Donald Trump urges CIA pick with torture history to stay on board

Gina Haspel has a long career in the CIA's clandestine service and currently serves as its deputy director.

Published: 07th May 2018 06:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th May 2018 06:05 PM   |  A+A-

President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform at the Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Saturday, May 5, 2018. | AP

By AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted support for his controversial pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, after reports she might withdraw her nomination to avoid a Senate grilling over her past involvement in torture.

Gina Haspel -- who has a long career in the CIA's clandestine service and currently serves as its deputy director -- ran the agency's "black box" interrogation cell in Thailand after the September 11 attacks. 

She is set to face a tough confirmation hearing Wednesday after a number of lawmakers, including Republican senator John McCain --  who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam -- raised reservations over her past involvement in the torture of detainees. 

"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists," the Republican president tweeted early Monday. 

"Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!"

Citing senior officials, The Washington Post said Sunday Haspel herself had indicated she would withdraw her nomination over the prospect of a tough Senate hearing that could damage the top espionage body's reputation and her own.

Trump had decided to push her to stay the nominee, according to the paper.

Haspel, 61, is widely respected in the intelligence community as a disciplined, non-political field agent who took on hardship positions and unsavory jobs. After becoming the CIA's deputy director one year ago, Trump nominated her for the agency's top job to replace the former director Mike Pompeo, recently confirmed as the top US diplomat.

According to numerous reports, key Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were brutally interrogated, slammed against walls, and repeatedly waterboarded in 2002 in Thailand. Haspel was reportedly involved in the CIA's destruction of videotapes recording the interrogations.

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  • Nikos Retsos

    Gina Haspel's nomination to lead the CIA would increase anti-American hatred around the world -especially in the Muslim world. We know that torture in Abu Graib, Iraq, in Guantanamo, Cuba, in Vietnam, in Latin America in the 1960,s and 1980,s, and in Afghanistan now -regardless the U.S. claims that the CIA doesn't do it, but pays Afghans contractors to torture Taliban prisoners- has established a global belief that the CIA is a torturous and lawless organization. And, you guess it, that global U.S. dirt and inhumane brutality is owned by all Americans because people like Gina Haspel get promotions for torturing U.S. opponents around the world. Worst yet, the U.S. has signed the international treaties against torture! Isn't that hypocrisy to sign the International Prohibition of Torture, and then promote the Americans officials responsible for grossly violating it to top government jobs? Shame on the U.S. Congress if it approves her nomination! Nikos Retsos, retired professor (Pol.Sci)
    1 year ago reply
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