McCain Presses Trump CIA Nominee Over Harsh Interrogation Record

Nominee Gina Haspel, who oversaw a "black site" prison in Thailand, may have had connections to the use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation techniques widely seen as torture for years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


(Reuters) — U.S. Sen. John McCain on Friday pressed President Donald Trump’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, for information about her ties to the agency’s past use of harsh interrogation techniques, underscoring challenges she faces winning confirmation.

Trump nominated Haspel, currently Central Intelligence Agency deputy director, to become director last week.

The announcement prompted objections over connections Haspel, who oversaw a “black site” prison in Thailand, may have had to the use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation techniques widely seen as torture for years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

McCain was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Republican lawmaker is a strong opponent of the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

“We now know that these techniques not only failed to deliver actionable intelligence but actually produced false and misleading information,” McCain said in a letter to Haspel. “Most importantly, the use of torture compromised our values, stained our national honor, and threatened our historical reputation.”

He asked for an account of Haspel’s role in the detention and interrogation program, including whether she directed “enhanced interrogation techniques” or could have stopped them, and if she was directed to destroy tapes or other potential evidence of the use of such techniques.

Haspel helped draft a cable ordering the destruction of such a videotape, although her backers said another official sent it without consulting her.

CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said Haspel received the letter and would respond directly to McCain.

Haspel could have trouble winning enough votes for Senate confirmation. Trump’s fellow Republicans hold 51 of the chamber’s 100 seats, but one, Rand Paul, has already announced that he will not support her nomination.

McCain, who is being treated for brain cancer in Arizona, has not been in Washington to vote this year.

Even if he cannot vote, opposition from McCain, a respected former presidential nominee and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, could help solidify opposition to Haspel.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who led the Intelligence Committee’s 2014 report on rough interrogation methods and co-sponsored an anti-torture law with McCain, demanded the release of classified CIA documents related to the practice.

She released another statement on Friday expressing concern, saying, “To promote someone so heavily involved in the torture program to the top position at the CIA, the agency responsible for one of the darkest chapters in our history, is a move that I’m very wary of.”

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One comment

  • It’s laughable how white people like McCain falsely believes that AmeriKKKa has a great “historical reputation”! AmeriKKKa’s reputation was STAINED from its inception beginning with mass slaughter of indigenous people here, Hawaii, Mexico, and all the Arab countries in the Middle East, except Israel. It’s the most terroristic country on Earth, but old geezers and young patriotic dummies like McCain refuse to read an accurate account of AmeriKKKan history and choose to remain in DENIAL about their DEVIOUS demoCRAZY.

    Considering AmeriKKKa’s history of torture [scalping, lynching, and raping], an evil white woman like Haspel is perfect to aid and abet diabolical white men. White women cried and whined about being “victims” and “minorities” of white male oppression, but they have always been better at oppressing, torturing, and discriminating than their evil white fathers, brothers and other male kin. Haspel looks as evil as her prez tRump.

    She received lots of practice on Blacks in AmeriKKKa before she operated a “black” site (it should be called a WHITE site) in Thailand. That white witch is perfect for this job–torture will come as natural to her as breathing fire.

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