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May 09, 2018

Senate Committee Urged to Reject Haspel Following Hearing

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged members of the Senate intelligence committee to reject the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director in light of her refusal to acknowledge the immorality of the torture program she participated in, and her role in the destruction of 92 video tapes documenting the abuse of detainees. In Haspel’s testimony before the Senate committee, she repeatedly showed a lack of remorse for her involvement in the program.

“Torture is an affront to American values. It’s as simple as that. It was a moral aberration after the attacks of September 11 and it is now. The inability of Ms. Haspel to recognize that torture is a moral and national security failure makes her unqualified to run the CIA,” said retired General Charles C. Krulak, former commandant of the Marine corps. “Despite whether or not Ms. Haspel believed that these techniques were legal, she had a moral responsibility to uphold the values of the United States. Instead of advocating for and participating in the destruction of evidence, Ms. Haspel should have objected and respected the values of congressional oversight and the rule of law.  It’s not a matter of ‘deciding’ to hold yourself to a higher moral standard in hindsight, it’s a matter of standing true to your principles at the moment they are most being tested.”

General Krulak led an effort of 109 of the nation’s most respected retired generals and admirals who wrote a letter to senators expressing profound concern over Haspel’s nomination.

“Torture is illegal, immoral, and counterproductive. Despite what Ms. Haspel claimed in her testimony today, torture is ineffective at gaining actionable intelligence,” said former Colonel Steven Kleinman, a retired air force interrogator. “Americans are less safe as a result of our government’s embrace of cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees, of which Ms. Haspel certainly played a role.”

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.  

“Haspel showed no remorse about the CIA’s use of torture and admitted that she advocated for the destruction of evidence of torture despite knowing that senior officials in Congress and the White House objected. In a shocking new revelation, it seems in 2007 she may have pushed for continuing or expanding the program even after Congress and the courts took action that should have shut the program down. And now Haspel is singularly refusing to declassify information about her own record to shield herself from scrutiny. In this context, it is absolutely ridiculous to take any assurances she provides seriously,” added Human Rights First’s Raha Wala.

For more information or to speak with Gen. Krulak, Kleinman, or Wala, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.