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Home / Press Release / Bipartisan Group of 115 Retired and Former Career Ambassadors Warn Senate that Confirming Haspel Would Undercut the Work of Diplomats Around the World
May 09, 2018

Bipartisan Group of 115 Retired and Former Career Ambassadors Warn Senate that Confirming Haspel Would Undercut the Work of Diplomats Around the World

Washington, D.C.—One hundred and fifteen retired and former career and non-career U.S. ambassadors, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, today sent a letter to members of the Senate expressing their serious concern over the nomination of Gina Haspel for director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) due to Haspel’s involvement in the agency’s torture program and her subsequent role in the destruction of evidence related to the abuse. The letter comes as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds Haspel’s nomination hearing this morning.

"We have no reason to question Ms. Haspel's credentials as both a leader and an experienced intelligence professional. Yet she is also emblematic of choices made by certain American officials in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 that dispensed with our ideals and international commitments to the ultimate detriment of our national security," wrote the ambassadors. "What we do know, based on credible, and as yet uncontested reporting, leaves us of the view that [Ms. Haspel] should be disqualified from holding cabinet rank."

Gina Haspel ran a secret CIA “black site” detention facility at which at least one detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was repeatedly tortured, including by waterboarding. Further, she played a central role in advocating for, and ultimately carrying out an order to destroy 92 videotapes of individuals in U.S. custody being subjected to torture, despite the objections of multiple Bush Administration and congressional leaders.  
 
In their letter, the retired and former ambassadors note that Ms. Haspel’s confirmation would reduce the United States' moral authority and influence, and embolden foreign governments that rely on torture and other forms of inhuman treatment to maintain power.
 
“The message inherent in [Haspel’s confirmation] will be understood by authoritarian leaders around the world. They will welcome it, as it will allow them to proclaim, however cynically, that their behavior is no different from ours,” added the ambassadors. "Her confirmation will thus undercut the work of countless diplomats, military service members, and intelligence professionals who continue to engage with their foreign counterparts on why the United States believes that torture and other forms of abuse are not only morally wrong, but strategically shortsighted and legally impermissible. In an era in which the rule of law is under considerable strain around the world, this is a cost we can ill afford."
 
Haspel’s nomination is also opposed by 109 retired generals and admirals, who similarly addressed a letter to members of the Senate raising their concerns with her role in torture. Human Rights First has opposed Haspel’s nomination as well.
 
For more information on Gina Haspel’s record see this backgrounder.  For more information on the letter, or to speak with the signers, contact Corinne Duffy at duffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.