Whether or not the Senate confirms Gina Haspel as CIA director, her very nomination defines Donald Trump as a fatally callous leader contemptuous of human rights and the rule of law, argues Robert Scheer.
By Robert Scheer
Leave it to Donald Trump, besieged by denunciations of his torturous behavior toward women, to have nominated a female torturer to head the Central Intelligence Agency. It was a move clearly designed to prove that a woman can be as crudely barbaric as this deeply misogynistic president. When it comes to bullying, Gina Haspel, whose confirmation hearing begins Wednesday, is the real deal, and The Donald is a pussycat by comparison. Whom has he ever waterboarded? Haspel has done that and a lot worse. Haspel is Trump’s ideal feminist, a point tweeted on May 5 by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
“There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel. Any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite.”
They call her “Bloody Gina,” and for some of her buddies in the torture wing of the CIA and their supporters in Congress, that is meant as
a compliment. For a decade after the 9/11 attacks, Haspel served as chief of staff, running the vast network of secret rendition torture prisons around the globe. As a definitive Senate Intelligence Committee report established, torture is not legal, according to U.S. law and international covenants signed by President Ronald Reagan, nor does it produce any actionable information in preventing acts of terror.
After the public revelation of the vast extent of the torture program horrified the world, Haspel deliberately destroyed 92 videotapes depicting the barbaric practice, violating a Justice Department order that the tapes be preserved, and thus clearly obstructing a criminal investigation. Yet in March, Trump chose to nominate Bloody Gina to be the new head of our super-spy agency.
Out of the ‘Dark Side’
Give Trump credit for consistency: He did campaign on the theme that torture—or “enhanced interrogation,” as his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, justified it—is only wrong when nations other than our own do it. And by nominating Haspel to head the CIA, Trump is clearly seeking to take torture out of the covert dark side, as former Vice President Dick Cheney termed his revival of the medieval dungeon art; Trump has branded it as a legitimate, made-in-America weapon, wielded by a woman, no less. Trump seemed to be saying, “Label me a bully; I’ll show you what a woman can do!” When it comes to authorizing the near-drowning of shackled prisoners and smashing their heads against prison walls, this lady is the equal of any macho man.
The best witness to the crimes of Bloody Gina is offered by a true hero of the real war against terrorism, former FBI agent Ali Soufan, who is credited with having done the most significant interrogation of captured terrorist suspects. Soufan shunned torture and skillfully gained the confidence of prisoners who went on to provide reliable information.
“It is a matter of public record,” Soufan wrote in The Atlantic magazine, “that Gina Haspel … played a key role in the agency’s now-defunct program of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ an Orwellian euphemism for a system of violence most Americans would recognize as torture. … I know firsthand how brutal those techniques were—and how counterproductive. … Unsurprisingly, the CIA’s own inspector general concluded that the torture program failed to produce any significant actionable intelligence; and I testified to the same effect under oath in the Senate.”
Obama Let Them Off
While there is no evidence that this indelible stain on America’s legacy produced any reliable information, the nomination of Bloody Gina sent a message to the world from this president that torture is to be rewarded. There are many, including Republican Sen. John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner in Vietnam, who raised questions about Haspel’s support of the torture program. “The use of torture compromised our values, stained our national honor, and threatened our historical reputation,” McCain said.
But even some Democrats may support Haspel’s nomination given that members of their party have been complicit in excusing the heinous practice of torture. After all, it was Democratic President Barack Obama who decided not to prosecute anyone for ordering or committing the torture that is one of the great stains on American history. In fact, Obama prosecuted former CIA agent John Kiriakou after he revealed the torture program’s existence to a journalist. He did so after President Bush’s memorable statement that the United States “does not torture people!” Ironically, the Bush Justice Department cleared Kiriakou of any charges, while Obama revived them two years later and sent the former agent to prison for 30 months.
LISTEN: Robert Scheer Interviews John Kiriakou: Torture Director Gina Haspel Is Wrong Woman to Break Glass Ceiling as CIA Head
Whether or not the Senate confirms Haspel, the very fact of her nomination defines Trump as a fatally callous leader totally contemptuous of basic human rights and the rule of law. Trump did not indelibly link America to torture; that disgrace is owned by George W. Bush, a “moderate” Republican, but it remained for this American president to brand torture as a favored American sport.
This article was originally published on Truthdig.
Robert Scheer, the editor-in-chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. He conducted the famous Playboy magazine interview in which Jimmy Carter confessed to the lust in his heart and he went on to do many interviews for The Los Angeles Times with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and many other prominent political and cultural figures. Between 1964 and 1969 Scheer was Vietnam correspondent, managing editor and editor in chief of Ramparts magazine. From 1976 to 1993 he served as a national correspondent for the L.A. Times, writing on diverse topics such as the Soviet Union, arms control, national politics and the military.
I think it is misleading to vilify trump without emphasizing the fact that he is the logical culmination of the presidents who came before him.
Dumb, fat, and stupid, is no way to go through life, PE.
“”Unsurprisingly, the CIA’s own inspector general concluded that the torture program failed to produce any significant actionable intelligence; and I testified to the same effect under oath in the Senate.””
This was one of the most important reveals in Douglas Valentine’s important book about the Phoenix Program.
Anyone else wonder why there’s an almost unrelated picture of Kiriakou next to the headline?
The article is about Gina Haspel.
Edit: Now I get it, every article is about Gina Haspel.
Since the founding of the USA, there have been only 21 years when the government of the USA was NOT engaged in some type of hostile action against other peoples or nations. A proud record for some; indicative of a “Christian” nation for others; a sad story for most… As for me, excuse me while I go vomit…
I believe that anyone that advocates torture is sick and satanic and should be tried as war criminals. See link below.
When you say satanic, do you mean literally?
Having checked your site I guess you do, but just so we’re clear are you saying that every excess of evil in human history was carried out by literal satanists?
Former CIA analyst dragged from Haspel hearing by Capitol Police after anti-torture protest
Published time: 9 May, 2018 17:29Edited time: 9 May, 2018 20:21
Former CIA analyst and anti-war activist Ray McGovern was forcibly removed from the US Senate hearing where Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director, was answering questions about her record on torture….
[read more at link below]
Our own Mr. McGovern was just dragged off by goons while engaging in a righteous protest against an A-1 torturer.
What she did is illegal under international law and she’s a war criminal.
Illegal under US law also.
Donald Trump is really such a nice guy – especially in spite of his being a racist, fascist warmonger who loves torturing people. I bet he’s really a barrel of fun when he’s planning a nice genocide. I can just hear him cracking jokes about his screaming victims. Kinda like Hillary gloating over Gaddafi’s gruesome murder.
Trump and Gina could have a great time with each other, cooking up new fiendish torture methods, etc. I bet they would cook up a real Witch’s Sabbath together!
I bet he’s really a barrel BOMB of fun when he’s planning a nice genocide.
The CIA uses torture, yep, fact.
They also collect and/or fabricate information (very easily now with the Patriot Act and NDAA) to blackmail those in Congress, SCOTUS, POTUS, or anyone who dares to oppose the DeepState plan to control the world.
It’s beyond time to break the CIA and the NSA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind.
#AbolishTheCIA #AbolishTheNSA #AbolishTheDeepState
We cannot forget that, by and large, the American people support torture as a legitimate way of obtaining information even though it isn’t. But I think the deeper reason is Americans both in government and in the culture believe in dominance and submission as a way of life. The powerful thrive the average person around the world is to bow in submission. We are due for a paradigm shift and maybe the absurdities of Trump may help that happen.
As an Empire begins to come apart, the veneer of supposed morality cracks and begins to disappear. The truth about the evil US Empire is beginning to be apparent to more and more people every day now. We must continue broadcasting this ugly reality no matter how people turn away and refuse to hear us. Gradually that denial of the truth is becoming harder to maintain, and we are being heard by more and more of our brainwashed fellow citizens. For example, how can anyone see what Israel is doing murdering innocent protesters, and still support that racist state?
Hi Tina, Joe comments a lot actually, just did to Ray McGovern’s recent article. I note, more than anyone, the loss of Dave P.’s good observations. Recently Zachary Smith has not been here, his comments are edifying, maybe he’s away. I miss Annie’s comments, too, she said she was frustrated by moderations. We are at a crisis point in history, i feel, and we must all speak out. I believe we all must start getting people to understand the sway of the Israel lobby on US foreign policy. Many people don’t think about how much foreign policy drives domestic policy. Be well, Tina.
It’s becoming abundantly clear, to the majority of the Worlds citizens, that America, far from being a benign, benevolent superpower & champion of democracy is really this generation’s Nazi Germany! The murderous facade is slipping with every poisonous action of this scandalalous Porn President Trump & every horrible US Govt appointment such as this torture queen Gina, to the warmongering appointments of Pompeo & others? What is really coming to light is the reality that America is really the greatest threat to World Peace, not Russia, Iran or any other Nation! The US along with its Terror allies Israel, Saudi Arabia are the greatest sponsor & supporter of Terrorist groups that has ever existed in Human history judging by their meddling interference & illegal regime change agendas conducted on a Worldwide scale? How many millions have died & will continue to die as a result of this rogue US Nations satanic ways through its illegal use of economic sanctions & direct military confrontations in Countries that they have no right under International law, to be in? I can see a time when other Countries will come to the realisation that the US is really the main obstacle to peace & stability, & they will have to unite to stop this evil American empire? America is a death dealing virus & needs to be dealt with like a virus? Isolation, containment then destruction!
That dems won’t argue against the viscous woman speaks of the viscousness of usa leaders.
Money and reëlection point to the ignorance, fear and greed of congress.
I think you forget that the American people, inundated by Hollywood movies praising torture actually favor torture. Trump genuinely represents in his bearing and his callous approach the American people just as Bibi represents the Israeli people in his general belligerence. We live in not only dark political times but dark cultural times.
About 10 years ago I made a comment denouncing violence in a specific movie, while a niece was present. Her response was quite telling: “What’s the big deal? It’s just killing.” She was not being provocative. Rather, it was no big deal to her.
She reminds me of Nurse Ratched (or however it was spelled) in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. That film, though examining insane asylums, was sort of an analogy for how things work generally in the yankee system, just like Cool Hand Luke used the prison system for a similar examination. What works like these reveal is that claims that the yankee power structure is engaged on behalf of the general public and follows the rule of law and is not based on the mere exercise of power for its own sake are false. Over the period since these films came out, things they exposed have only become far more pronounced. It seems that what the Haspel appointment shows is that modern yankee fascism has conquered sexism. The evildoers can be of either sex, as was indicated by the odious record of arch war criminal Hillary Clinton.
I absolutely love this comment.
The use of film/movies brings to mind the term, ‘unintentional learning’ — movies are, or can be a “reveal” or, “eye opening” revelation to folk with curious/truth seeking minds / ‘Thinkers’.
There aren’t enough meditative, ruminators who give (or have) time to deep or sincere Thought and Concern for these events that shape our society, let alone, events in the larger world.
We’re Addicted to regurgitated “news” and all-of-the-latest scandal and ad homonym car-chases as ‘Breaking News’.
Cuckoo’s Nest is an excellent example of the creative life force snuffed out by the MEAN SPIRITED AUTHORITY of Compassionless Overseers with vindictive, malevolent minds.
They are the evil in this world. Haspels’ grotesque record shows she is in that group. …
The US as a rogue state is well known to other nations and the US has been cited in polls as the country that is the greatest threat to world peace. The fact that John Kiriakou was sent to prison for exposing torture while torturers went free, shows exactly what a criminal mafia the USG has become. Donald Trump is the latest mafia don who really plays the role of a confirmed psychopath. Boss Tweet! The only good possibly to come from his swagger on the world stage may be his assistance in ending US “exceptional” imperial hegemony.
I have missed more reasoned discussions. I noticed an absence of usual conversation. I believe that Robert Parry would want a dialogue. I miss Joe tedesky. I know you and Joe bantered, and your correspondence kept us enlightened. Jessica, please keep me posted about Joe. Love , tina
I’m doing well tina, and hope you are to. I’ve written here about my being found by my biological family members after being adopted 68 years ago. I’m also in touch a lot with two of my daughters who were casualties of a bad divorce a longtime ago…. so I couldn’t be better.
I’m hoping your father is doing well also.
I agree wholeheartedly with Jessika that the U.S. is a rogue government posing as a world leader. This is what happens when your government goes corporate, and forgets (as if they ever did remember) the people who it’s suppose to serve.
Sadly the U.S. is investing in so much war, that it is passing up doing all of the things it should be doing to prepare our country for the ever changing 21st Century. Every bit of these wars on terrorism is built upon some kind of lie or other, and torturing captive indigenous to get the right answers required to support retaliation against terrorism is the ticket…. where have we gone Oh America, where are we now, and where are we heading?
Nice to hear from you tina. Joe
Well, I don’t think you can call the US a “world leader” it is the center of a global Empire that seeks complete world-domination through coercion.
If you want to be the shining city on the hill, you’ve got to, you know, BE honorable, honest, fair, square dealing, and all those other attributes that one normally associates with someone that one would wish to emulate. Attributes that seem to have been missing from the behavior of the US government for time out of mind. The United States had better damn well hope that the rest of the world doesn’t decide to try to emulate our actual behavior.
Again, the U.S. seeks world-domination through coercive means not popularity. It believes it can continue to operate the Empire through force and, so far, it has worked pretty well.