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Excerpt: "Putting Haspel in charge of the CIA would undo attempts by the agency - and the nation - to repudiate torture. The message this would send to the CIA workforce is simple: Engage in war crimes, in crimes against humanity, and you'll get promoted. Don't worry about the law."

Gina Haspel. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Gina Haspel. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Letter on Nomination of Gina Haspel

By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Reader Supported News

08 May 18


MEMORANDUM FOR: Members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: Opposition to Gina Haspel as CIA Director

e, the undersigned intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, and military professionals, are writing to urge that you vote against Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Putting Haspel in charge of the CIA would undo attempts by the agency — and the nation — to repudiate torture. The message this would send to the CIA workforce is simple: Engage in war crimes, in crimes against humanity, and you’ll get promoted. Don’t worry about the law. Don’t worry about ethics. Don’t worry about morality or the fact that torture doesn’t even work. Go ahead and do it anyway. We’ll cover for you. And you can destroy the evidence, too.

Described in the media as a “seasoned intelligence veteran,” Haspel has been at the CIA for 33 years, both at headquarters and in senior positions overseas. Now the deputy director, she has tried hard to stay out of the public eye. Former CIA director Michael Pompeo has lauded her “uncanny ability to get things done and inspire those around her.”

That is true for those of Haspel’s mindset. But many of the rest of us who knew and worked with Haspel at the CIA called her “Bloody Gina” because of her direct involvement in the CIA’s torture program.

The President’s appointment of Haspel hurts morale among CIA officers who recognize that torture is wrong, inefficient, and counterproductive. It comforts people at the agency who still believe that “enhanced interrogation” is somehow acceptable.

The message it sends to our friends and allies (and the countries we criticize in the State Department’s annual human rights reports) is this: We say we’re a shining city on a hill, a beacon of respect for human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. But that simply is not true. We say those things when it’s expedient. We say them to make ourselves feel good. But when push comes to shove, we do what we want, international law and the 8th Amendment to the Constitution be damned.

The meaning of Haspel’s nomination won’t be lost on our enemies, either. The torture program and similar abuses at military-run prisons in Iraq were among the greatest recruitment tools that al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other bad actors ever had, according to legal experts, U.S. lawmakers and even to the militants themselves. It energized them and gave them something to rally against. It sowed an even deeper hatred of the United States among militant groups. It swelled their ranks. It was no coincidence that the Islamic State paraded its prisoners in front of cameras wearing orange jumpsuits (like those worn by Guantanamo Bay detainees) before beheading them. Haspel and the others at the CIA who engineered and oversaw the torture program are at least partially responsible for that, because they showed the world how the United States sometimes treats captives.

Do we Americans want to be a rogue nation that tortures people, like North Korea? Do we want to be a nation whose CIA Director will not be able to visit the heads of counterpart services for fear of arrest under the principle of universal jurisdiction for the torture she is known to have led? Are we proud of the era when we snatched people from one country and sent them to another to be interrogated in secret prisons? Do we want to be the country that cynically preaches human rights and then violates those same rights when we think nobody is looking?

Do we want to be a government that lies to its own people and then punishes the truthtellers who have exposed official activities that are illegal, immoral, unacceptable, and incompatible with our values, even when classification of embarrassing or illegal conduct is expressly forbidden? (Full disclosure: The drafter of this memo, John Kiriakou, spent 23 months in federal prison for revealing that torture had been approved at the highest levels of government.)

Our country cannot afford that. We cannot look the other way. We cannot reward the torturers. Gina Haspel has no business running the CIA. Please vote against her nomination.

On March 25, 2018, we sent President Trump a Memorandum urging him to withdraw Haspel’s nomination, citing a long list of cogent, compelling reasons to do so. We have had no response. You and your staff may wish to review it.

Matthew Alexander, U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (retired)
Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (retired) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader, Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (retired)
Philip Giraldi, CIA Operations Officer (retired)
Michael S. Kearns, Captain, U.S. Air Force, Intelligence Officer, and former Master SERE Instructor (retired)
John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Karen Kwiatkowski, LTC, U.S. Air Force (retired)
Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, U.S. Army (retired)
Ray McGovern, Army/Infantry Intelligence Officer and CIA Presidential Briefer (retired)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council (retired)
Diane Roark, Republican Professional Staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (retired)
Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (retired)
Greg Thielmann, former Director, Office of Strategic, Political, and Military Affairs, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, U.S. Department of State and former staff member, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Peter Van Buren, former diplomat, U.S. Department of State
Sarah Wilton, Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve (retired) and Defense Intelligence Agency (retired)
Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army reserve colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War
Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, U.S. Army (retired), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State; Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary
Thomas Drake, former senior executive, National Security Agency
Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer your social media marketing partner


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+48 # Moxa 2018-05-08 12:38
Great letter. Does anybody receiving it care?

I think people who promote torture are unlikely to respond to a memo which correctly explains that it is wrong, instills hatred toward the U.S. and is ineffective. I think they just like to do it and they build their rationale from there.

I hope that I am wrong.
+44 # librarian1984 2018-05-08 13:07
I'd feel much better if John Kiriakou headed the CIA, at which point I hope he'd dismantle it.

I will work against any Democrat who supports or votes for Haspel. She should not even be considered. She should be in prison, preferably one that waterboards.
+21 # PCPrincess 2018-05-08 14:08
It saddens me that the overwhelming majority, if not all signers to this document are retired. No one is willing to take a stand that isn't already enjoying the fruits of their labor with a rogue agency.
+19 # Benign Observer 2018-05-08 19:15
Probably there's a reason they're retired.

These is the same group that issued the report about the DNC hack. You can check out their web site and see all their memos, a few a year, stretching back a ways. They're fascinating, and these guys have a good track record. I think the first couple were not to go to war with Iraq.
+7 # harleysch 2018-05-09 04:20
You are right about the VIPS. They have also written about the overall fraud of Russiagate, with sharp, effective polemics against their former colleagues, such as Brennan and Clapper, who are largely responsible for many of the VIPS being retired from the intelligence community, often having been prosecuted for their honesty.

I do wonder, though, why their compelling interventions/l etters attacking the fraud of "Russian hacking and meddling", and of the attempted coup by the intelligence community against Trump, have not appeared on RSN?
+2 # librarian1984 2018-05-09 18:00
I wonder about that too. Here's the 42 memos from VIPS:
+21 # Realist1948 2018-05-08 19:27
I am pleased to see the name Karen Kwiatkowski among the signatories. LTC Kwiatkowski was a primary source for "The Lie Factory," a detailed look at how key people in the George W. Bush administration cooked up the bogus reasons for waging war on Iraq. When Mother Jones published this article in early 2004, not many insiders had come forward with details about the lies and the liars. Kwiatkowski was one of the few people willing to speak up.
+4 # economagic 2018-05-08 20:34
OMG! I looked right past her in the list. Her story makes clear to an extent that some others do not the extent to which this country has been governed by persons with no respect for the law or human decency for 45 of the past 40 years (look 'em up).
0 # angelfish 2018-05-08 19:45
These are Dark Days in America, my friends. I remember a gentler, more reasonable America, BEFORE Cold Wars, and Atrocities by those we called our Enemies. Sad to see we have BECOME them! With an Outright Moron in our White House, a man (?) without Empathy, Humanity OR Conscience, who is Championed by his Congressional Majority, makes us realize it will take a concerted effort on the Partof ALL of us who RePudiate Haspel and her "methods". Rebel! Resist! and RePudiate these Imbeciles and Knuckle Draggers who are trying to drag us, not back to the Swamp, but into Trump's Sewer from whence he Crawled! WHERE are the Saner heads in Washington, D.C.? Is there NO ONE to call a halt to this Insanity? Help and Save us from this Nightmare, dear God.
+2 # laborequalswealth 2018-05-11 09:27
Hate to disillusion you, but what you are seeing now is EXACTLY what the USA has been doing for at least 70 years. We have always been run by a greedy plutocracy. We are just finding out now how utterly corrupt our rulers have been. Ok as long as they would SHARE, y'know, like the Mafia taking care of its own.

But now the 2,000 billionaires in the world have decided that there are just to damn many of us and America is imploding. What you are witnessing is Slow Genocide.
+3 # ahollman 2018-05-08 22:30
I have 3 thoughts/reactions.

1) Haskel joined the CIA shortly after graduating college and has spent 30 years there. She did many stints of duty in many places. Among those stints was one where she supervised torture and destroyed videotaped records. What did she do during the other stints?

2) Does her stint supervising torture and destroying its evidence, by itself, constitute sufficient reason to conclude that she should not head the CIA? If yes, then case closed. If not, then perhaps the other things she did might still qualify her.

3) If not Haskel, then who -should- head the CIA? Perhaps those who signed the letter opposing Haskel's candidacy could suggest other candidates that they'd consider more satisfactory.
+2 # elkingo 2018-05-08 22:41
This reads like a Declaration of Independence against torture. The document itself should have historical significance whatever the asshole administration does about torture.
+10 # ahollman 2018-05-08 22:56
I posted earlier wondering whether Haskel's other experiences over 30 years might qualify her to run the CIA, despite her running a torture site and ordering incriminating videotapes to be destroyed.

I've read more and have changed my mind. I am convinced Haskel's involvement in torture renders her unfit to head the CIA. Beyond that, she not only followed orders regarding torture (not a valid defense), she also gave orders regarding torture.

At the very least, she should be charged with violating legal prohibitions on torture. She certainly should not head the CIA; President Trump should withdraw her nomination.

The "I" in "CIA" stands for Intelligence. The CIA's mission is to gather, assess and report on intelligence, in particular, intelligence which affects US national security. As many writers have noted, not only is torture a legally and morally unacceptable way of gathering intelligence, it is also an ineffective one, and thus detracts from the CIA's mission.

The US leads the world in many ways. Torture, and promoting people who engaged in torture, should not be among them.
+10 # janie1893 2018-05-09 00:42
I thank the signers of the letter for being ethical enough to speak out. Few people have the guts to call out the crazies.
+4 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-05-09 08:40
Until these vile issues are resolved through justice in the courts, the USA must be considered a Failed Rogue Nation.
+4 # elizabethblock 2018-05-10 07:37
I just heard an interview on the CBC's The Current (look for it), first with John Kiriakou, then with Michael Hayden, who defended Haspel. Why? Because her strict sense of morality would mean that she would DEFEND THE CIA FROM ANY HARM, meaning that if Trump gave orders that a subsequent administration might reverse, thereby putting in legal jeopardy the CIA officers who carried it out, she would have the guts to say no.
He also claimed that torture was legal because the Bush Justice Dept. said it was. Kiriakou, of course, had pointed out that both the Supreme Court and treaties the US has signed say it isn't. The US executed Japanese officers who waterboarded Americans. Why, he asked, was waterboarding illegal torture in 1946 but legal in 2002?
+4 # Benign Observer 2018-05-10 10:12
This looks like payback for her willingness to disobey Congress and destroy evidence. Why Congress would confirm her is beyond me.

I've heard pundits and politicians say they should confirm her because the next nominee might be worse!! THAT's how banal the excuse of torture has become?
+6 # librarian1984 2018-05-10 07:40
Sen. Angus King (ME): Who's deciding what's classified and what isn't in terms of what's released to this committee?

Haspel: Senator, we are following the existing guidelines --

King: Who's deciding?

Haspel: We are following the existing --

King: Who's 'we'?

Haspel: I .. I have chosen to follow the guidelines that --

King: So YOU are making the classification decisions about what material should be released to this committee?

Haspel: I am electing not to make an exception for myself.

King said that in a later, closed session Haspel was even less forthcoming.

We heard that Haspel 'oversaw' torture. What exactly does that mean? Did she watch? Did she herself torture people? Did she pose for pictures with victims?

Did she oversee the torture of women? How many prisoners' torture did she 'oversee'? Who were her advisors?

Is this nomination payback for being a good soldier and destroying evidence?

I am sick of bureaucrats, pundits and politicians telling us why this and that atrocity is really okay, as we sink further into a quagmire of corruption and evil.

No one should profit from criminal acts. The torturers, and anyone who ordered torture, should be in prison -- not promoted.

There are clarifying moments. I believe this is one of them. I won't forget who votes to legitimize a war criminal.

It's as if the Allies made Himmler CEO of GE after WW2.
+1 # ThorunnPS 2018-05-11 08:55
Unfortunately, the Allies DID employ the services of war criminals, some of whom deserved to be executed for their crimes, if they saw a good use for them in the development of the Cold War. Many of these criminals became naturalized Americans.
+3 # laborequalswealth 2018-05-11 09:30
What is even more revolting is that we are even having a discussion on "whether" torture is "moral" or not! WTF???????????? ?????????????

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