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Kiriakou writes: "Last week, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified what at first glance appears to be an innocuous transcript of a request for discovery and witnesses made by Guantanamo defense attorneys during a hearing in the 'trial' of 9/11 suspect Khalid Shaikh Muhammad."

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

Newly Declassified Documents Shed Light on Gina Haspel's Involvement at Guantanamo

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

08 January 19


ast week, the Central Intelligence Agency declassified what at first glance appears to be an innocuous transcript of a request for discovery and witnesses made by Guantánamo defense attorneys during a hearing in the “trial” of 9/11 suspect Khalid Shaikh Muhammad. In the transcript, the attorney complains to the judge that the defense team has not been able to interview the witnesses they want and need, and that they are not receiving the discovery necessary to mount an adequate defense. I say the transcript is innocuous because, while much of it is redacted, including entire pages, what is left is generally pro-forma back-and-forth between the judge and the attorneys. I learned nothing — until, that is, I got to the bottom of page 22,088. That’s right, page 22,088.

On that page, one of the defense attorneys is arguing that CIA Director Gina Haspel changed classification guidance for the identification of CIA officers and others who had served at Guantánamo once she became director in order to protect the identities of any CIA officers who served there. The attorney told the judge, “So what incentive would she have to change the classification guidance? By doing so, it makes it impossible to find out more about her involvement. It makes it impossible to find out other people who saw her there. It makes it impossible for people at Guantánamo, who may have seen her when she was here as chief of base [emphasis added], to identify her and talk about it. Because the classification guidance means that we can’t go talk to those people.”

If true, this is blockbuster information. It has never before been public. That torture took place at Guantánamo is not in dispute. We know it thanks to the courageous whistleblowing of former Navy Department General Counsel Alberto Mora. And it’s all entirely plausible.

Don’t forget that Haspel was in charge of a secret site where al-Qaeda prisoners were tortured mercilessly. There were credible reports that she personally supervised the torture of USS Cole bombing mastermind Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. During her Senate confirmation hearings, Haspel refused to say that the torture program was a mistake. She also refused to say whether she had personally participated in the torture.

Don’t forget that Haspel destroyed videotaped evidence of the torture of Abu Zubaydah. Abu Zubaydah was the first al-Qaeda prisoner to be tortured. CIA officers waterboarded him, deprived him of sleep, beat him, kept him in a coffin-sized box for weeks at a time (throwing insects in with him because he had an irrational fear of them), kept him in a dog cage for weeks at a time, and twice tortured him so severely that his heart stopped beating and he had to be revived. All of this was filmed. But Gina Haspel put those tapes in an industrial grinder, despite the fact that the Justice Department and the White House Counsel had specifically ordered her to preserve them. Again, she showed no contrition in her Senate confirmation hearings.

According to the recently-declassified court transcript, the defense attorney complained to the judge that what the CIA “is not willing to talk about is the names of the people involved in the torture.” She then specifically named Haspel. The CIA and Defense Department agreed to the declassification. Would they have declassified the information knowing it was false? Probably. Would they have declassified it knowing it was true? That’s impossible to say. But most of Haspel’s CIA career is still shrouded in mystery. Her official CIA biography notes that she has served overseas for most of her 30-plus years at the Agency and that she likes movies and ice hockey. Any specifics about her career have come from dogged journalists.

This new revelation raises an entire host of questions. When was Haspel at Guantánamo? Did she oversee the torture of prisoners there? Did she have personal contact with prisoners, including Khalid Shaikh Muhammad? Was there also video evidence of prisoners being tortured at Guantánamo? If so, did she destroy that, too? Did she disclose her time at Guantánamo to the Senate Intelligence Committee prior to her nomination hearing? Why was the information classified in the first place? Why was it declassified now? Was it an accident?

The CIA, of course, has no comment on the document. One former CIA officer with whom I spoke simply said, “I can’t believe they would declassify that. Maybe it’s not true.” I have no idea if Gina Haspel served as the CIA base chief at Guantánamo. The attorney may have misspoken or may have been misinformed. Either way, the CIA owes the American people an explanation. It owes the Senate Intelligence Committee answers to the above questions.

I have long maintained that Gina Haspel has no business running the CIA because of her deep involvement in the torture program. She has no business running the CIA because of her direct involvement in the destruction of evidence of the torture. This revelation only strengthens the argument that Haspel’s appointment as CIA Director was a mistake in the first place. That mistake can be corrected by sending her into a quick retirement.

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John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+52 # Moxa 2019-01-08 15:08
Maybe Gina Haspel is not the aberration, not the exception but the rule. Maybe she is not a mistake. Maybe she is exactly what the CIA is all about.
+13 # ktony 2019-01-09 06:29
Quoting Moxa:
Maybe Gina Haspel is not the aberration, not the exception but the rule. Maybe she is not a mistake. Maybe she is exactly what the CIA is all about.

Just drop the "maybe." It is clear that Haspel is an unrepentant monster. Her nickname in the agency is "Bloody Gina."
+13 # JKiriakou 2019-01-09 09:20
I'm afraid you're exactly right.
+13 # dandevries 2019-01-09 14:33
JK: Good to see you reading and responding to comments. Boardman also does this from time to time. Very helpful.

And many thanks for your courageous stands, and your writing.
+9 # bobaka 2019-01-08 23:44
The question is whether the supposed progressives push for her removal. She is a beast among many beasts, and the beasts always protect each other. Maybe the grand jury in New York investigating 9-11 will put all the beasts on death row.
+12 # jwb110 2019-01-09 10:52
There was a time, in my living memory, when the US took a moral highroad that was the envy of most of the world. It seems that has gone away and what may loom in future is our own version of the Nuremberg.
+14 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-09 17:10
jwb -- "There was a time, in my living memory, when the US took a moral highroad that was the envy of most of the world."

Let's see. You must be very old. The US is now and always has been an empire. That means it expands the territory it controls and do that it must suppress the people who live in that territory. First it was native Americans, and torture, murder, genocide, and all the rest of imperial methods of conquest were used a plenty.

Then the US went global. In its conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, it tortured millions of people and murder outright as many as 2 million people. These were called "our little brown brothers" who had the choice to submit to die.

The US did a good job is promoting a mythology about itself. But all empires do that -- Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, British, French. Empires always seem great until you peel back the covers and look at them naked.

No empire has ever taken the moral highroad. You can't dominate people and be moral.
+5 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-01-10 12:15
I want to add that there are some very good things about the US. There is a lot of idealism about democracy, human rights, and human equality. But the US is not now and never has been a nation about those ideals. Rather those ideals have been pursued and worked for by people at the bottom of the social structure who struggled and often gave their lives to make the US a better nation. The civil rights movement is one prominent example. MLK and all the rest of them were considered traitors, criminals, communists, and terrorists by the FBI and most local police departments. COINTELPRO was a massive program to exterminate them. And yet they accomplished a lot. There's still much more to do. But it is not coming from the US or any of its governmental institutions, which are all still committed to imperialism and white supremacy.
+11 # lfeuille 2019-01-09 12:59
Trump won't remove her. We have to remove him first.
+13 # elizabethblock 2019-01-09 15:44
I am so thankful for the existence of people like John Kiriakou who are ready, willing, and able to read a 22,00+ page document and make sense of it. I couldn't do it!
-4 # 2019-01-09 18:01
Click the link JK posted.

It's only 211 pages long. The vast majority of those are redacted at least partially (many almost fully redacted).

I expect better, JK, than misleading your readers to believe you slogged away at over 22,000 pages of text.
+7 # JKiriakou 2019-01-10 08:57
I've gone through every single page of that document. It has taken years to compile and is released in batches. I never claimed to have read it in one sitting.
+3 # Anne Frank 2019-01-09 17:03
Deep state again protects its criminals, and so proves law is impotent and meaningless.
+11 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-01-09 18:51
Alll of the reasons in this article are probably why she was chosen to head the CIA.
Once again, THANK YOU John Kiriakou

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