President Trump’s nomination today of Gina Haspel to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency brought back some very dark, unhappy memories for Col. Morris Davis. During the Iraq war, the now retired officer served as Chief Prosecutor at the Guantanamo prison in Cuba, where prisoners of war were bought for interrogation and military trials.
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I resigned as Chief Prosecutor at #Guantanamo after I was directed to use evidence derived partly thru Haspel’s torture program. Rather than being held accountable, those like Bybee, Bradbury & Haspel who OK’d torture moved up. Those who spoke out against torture did not. https://t.co/8BFdozpU17
— Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) March 13, 2018
Haspel first entered the CIA in 1985, and later was held accountable for the use of torture techniques most Americans thought had gone out with the Middle Ages, waterboarding being only the most well-known among them.
She was one of those in charge of a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002, recalls Senator John McCain, who, as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, was on the receiving end of the most horrific forms of torture imaginable.
The ACLU, according to McCain, said Haspel was “up to her eyeballs in torture, both in running a secret torture prison in Thailand and carrying out an order to cover up torture crimes by destroying videotapes.”
More from Senator McCain:
“The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history. Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process.”
The Bush, administration, added McCain, “squandered precious moral authority” to get intelligence.
After she was promoted to a position back at CIA headquarters, Haspel worked to destroy evidence of the torture crimes committed at the prison she ran. The CIA must declassify and release every aspect of Haspel's torture record before considering the nomination.
— ACLU (@ACLU) March 13, 2018
Now Trump has given broad hints he is ready to put aside curbs put in place by President Obama to stop the worst practices and open the door to using all forms of torture again.
That means that, even if Haskel comes clean and promises to obey the law, Trump may make new laws which will have her once again ordering forms of torture few Americans would agree are ever acceptable.
Trump’s CIA Director pick, Gina Haspel, oversaw Bush-era torture practices, including the waterboarding of one suspect 83 times in a single month. Also ramming his head into walls to the point where he lost sight in one eye. https://t.co/LHvUvuxirB
— Nick Knudsen (@DemWrite) March 13, 2018
Col. Davis is among those who believe there is never a reason to use extreme forms of torture. “For two years” at Guantanamo, he recalled in an October 2017 opinion article in the Los Angeles Times, “my policy had been that the prosecution would not use evidence obtained by torture because evidence obtained by torture is tainted.”
When two officers were put over his head who wanted him to use the torture evidence, which was authorized by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Morris resigned.
“I wish I could say that, in the following decade, the U.S. recovered from the shock of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, recognized the errors it made and regained its legal and moral standing on the issue of torture,” wrote Davis.
“That would be fake news.”
When President Obama was elected, Morris was hopeful but disappointed when the new president said he would not punish those who used torture in the past, even though it would be banned under his administration.
“The government officials who had sanctioned torture enjoyed eight years of impunity during the Obama administration,” continued Morris.
“This set the stage for Donald Trump to claim during the 2016 campaign that “torture works” and that if he were president, he would bring back “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
While Trump’s pro-torture position has not yet been become policy, Morris argues that the issue “should not even be open for discussion anymore.”
However, we know with Trump, it could easily be revived, especially with experienced torture experts like Ms. Haspel taking a powerful position like the Director of the CIA, the organization which for years ran secret prison camps all over the planet with little or no interference.
The only answer is to stop Haspel from being confirmed by the Senate, but with the Republicans holding a commanding majority, that too seems unlikely.
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) March 13, 2018
So Col. Morris is among the majority of Americans who do not believe the response to the barbaric is to be even more barbaric. We are about to have our consciences tortured once again, as the bottom feeders of the Trump administration use every dirty trick and then give themselves awards, medals, and promotions for what they get away with.