The Government Has Information on Gina Haspel’s Torture Record. The Senate Can’t See It.

In 2005, the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes that had depicted the torture of two detainees. The destruction took place over objections from the White House, the CIA’s legal counsel, and senior intelligence officials.

Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, drafted the cable ordering the tapes' destruction and lobbied for them to be shredded. She claims, however, that she did not think the cable she drafted would be sent before “making sure that we had all the stakeholders’ concurrence.”

Now, a bipartisan group of senators, including Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), are calling on the Justice Department to make a federal prosecutor’s report about the destruction of the videotapes available to senators before the chamber votes on Haspel’s nomination.

In 2008, then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate the destruction of the tapes. Durham’s inquiry was later expanded to look into “alleged CIA mistreatment of detainees” and “whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations.”

While an executive summary of the report has been made available to Senate Intelligence Committee members, the entire report has been kept a secret — including from the full Senate, which will be voting on Haspel if the committee approves her nomination. The New York Times lost a previous legal challenge to make the report publicly available.

The videotapes were destroyed in complete disdain for the rule of law. In 2004, one year before the tapes’ destruction, a judge ordered the CIA to “produce or identify” records relating to the treatment of detainees in CIA custody. That order came as a result of a legal challenge by the ACLU. One year later, a federal judge in a separate case ordered the government to search for video or audio recordings of detainee interrogations. In clear defiance of the courts, the CIA destroyed the tapes.

The tapes were shredded just one day after the Senate voted on a 2005 amendment which, had it passed, would have created an independent commission to look into the agency’s detention practices. According to the executive summary of an extensive report on CIA torture by the Senate Intelligence Committee — the full version of which has also been kept secret — that vote prompted “renewed interest at the CIA to destroy the videotapes” over fears that “such a commission would lead to the discovery of videotapes documenting CIA interrogations.”

Haspel’s nomination has prompted renewed urgency to release the Durham report. In her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel contradicted the CIA’s own documents when she claimed that there was only one detainee depicted in the tapes, not two.

The report may also shed light on conflicting statements from Haspel and her former boss, Jose Rodriguez, about her knowledge of his decision to order the videotapes destroyed. Rodriguez has implied that Haspel knew more than she has let on.

Durham ultimately decided not to bring any charges — part of a long and shameful pattern of impunity when it came to the CIA’s unlawful program. Because the basis for Durham’s decision has been hidden from the public, we have no assurances about Durham’s conclusions, and we continue to call for a comprehensive and independent investigation of the torture program. News reports indicate that his investigation includes precisely the kind of information about Haspel that the CIA has been effectively shielding from the public.  

According to NBC News, Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have prepared a “disturbing” document that addresses “comments by Haspel in support of the CIA’s brutal interrogation program at the time it was ongoing.” The Intercept further reports that information from Durham’s inquiry is included in the memo:

Relying on classified records, it goes into detail on Haspel’s role in torture, the destruction of evidence, and her tenure more broadly, according to people briefed on its contents.

The memo draws from the results of an investigation by special prosecutor John Durham, who looked into CIA activity following 9/11 and ultimately chose not to bring charges.

Every American should be wary of what Sen. Wyden has described as an “A to Z cover-up” of Haspel’s torture record. A vote on her nomination without access to her full record, including the Durham report, would be a failure of the Senate’s constitutional obligation to provide ‘advice and consent’ on nominations.

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Dr. Timothy Leary

Why are they making video tapes of that stuff anyway? Don't they know that it will come back to bite them in the ass?

Anonymous

The one thing police officers, FBI, NSA, CIA and anyone in authority all have in common is that they all voluntarily swore supreme loyalty to protect the constitutional rights of anyone in their jurisdiction.

If Haspel was interrogating anyone on U.S. soil a local district attorney has the authority to investigate it - if she was violating the constitutional rights of that person within their jurisdiction [Article VI of the U.S. Constitution]. If federal officials violate constitutional rights, local officials can "check & balance" those illegal acts (and vice-versa).

Anonymous

The ACLU should immediately start a petition drive to the DNC and RNC - pick your political party - asking that any member voting for a unindicted torturer face a strong "primary challenger" next time that Congressman is up for election. Each member of the CIA and Congress agreed to swear supreme loyalty to the U.S. Constitution - as a condition of holding authority. One cannot hold authority in the United States without taking the constitutional Oath of Office.

Proper loyalty is the #1 job qualification for anyone operating in exteme secrecy with little oversight and immense power. Haspel failed that test when it counted. The real job of a functioning CIA would have been to disrupt the Bush torturers - not join them. Officials with proven loyalty, like John Kiriakou or Thomas Drake, should run agencies like the CIA.

Torture and warrantless spying have always been felony crimes under federal law. It also violates legally-binding international treaties (which the USA is a signatory to). It also violates Ronald Reagan's Convention Against Torture.

Anonymous

Through no fault of the ACLU and the Robert's Supreme Court - guessing you guys got fooled big time! Just a guess, based on circumstantial evidence, maybe some of the so-called intelligence "leaks" are not leaks at all but testimony from war crimes victims.

For example: if someone like Gina Haspel tortured a native born U.S. citizen inside the continental United States and that U.S. citizen [with a guaranteed Bill of Rights under American law] reported being the war crime victim - that is NOT a leak - that's a crime report being made to voters and the proper authorities like John Roberts. In this scenario, the Executive Branch intel agencies have "0" authority to cover-up that so-called leak., since it's really a war crimes report.

The only real way to separate real leakers (sworn to secrecy) versus real crime victims is to confront these Americans in-person in court.

It also seems totally relevant to mention that Senator Leahy offered the intelligence agencies essentially a non-prison and non-felony ootion to the torture wing of those agencies. It was essentially a "Truth Commission" with "conditional immunity" from criminal prosecution for intelligence officials and contractors. The "condition" was telling the "whole-truth" to the ACLU and government watchdog agencies for the purpose of forcing constitutional reforms in the intelligence community. Part of the remedy would be issuing official apologies to Americans and others tortured, blacklisted or spied upon including financial compensation (this is vitally important due to "Employment Tampering" and "Defamation" tactics used against innocent people - many of America's war crime victims can't even fill out a job application due to the Bush torture and blacklising programs). Heroes like John Kiriakou (imprisoned for being too loyal), Thomas Drake and others also need to be made whole - including financially.

In 2018, America no longer has intelligence agencies - we are building a Cold War style Stasi (totalitarian secret police). Gina Haspel, the CIA and other agencies would actually benefit from a James Madison model instead of an "Erik Honaker" model. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes like torture and blacklisting. Modt war crime indictments happen 20-40 years later.

Haspel and friends should choose a "Truth Commission" and own up to their past war crimes (felonies under federal law).

Anonymous

Can you please check into the warrantless surveillance of Americans in the last couple of years. I believe that this issue is much more relevant today.

Anonymous

Over the past 15 years, the ACLU has acquired the government's own records that indicate there is likely extreme abuse of warrantless surveillance inside the United States. More than enough evidence for an official inquest, similar to the Church Committee Reports in the 1970's.

If you simply compare the total number of people on "Terrorist-Watchlists vs. Terrorism-Convictions", it appears that the conviction rate is less than 1%. A legitimate constitutional search should net at least a 50% terrorism-indictment rate and at least a 40% conviction rate.

In real practice, what that likely means is that officials are illegally misappropriating counter-terrorism tax dollars to be used on "non-terrorism" cases. Even if they exploited terrorism authoritaries for traditional criminal suspects, the criminal conviction rate is still less than 10%. How are the other 90+ % on watchlists being treated? Either way there is no "terrorism-exemption" to the U.S, Constitution [a wartime governing charter]. Calling something "terrorism" doesn't make it exempt from Bill of Rights protections.

Employment Tampering and blacklisting are the worst forms of torture - far worse than waterboarding and more lethal longterm (ex: East German Stasi). The above statistics (using the government's own records), in my opinion, likely indicate thousands of innocent Americans are being blacklisted with such a tiny conviction rate. It appears the profit-driven "Blacklisting/Surveillance Industry" itself is now driving the legislation in Congress and state legislatures, not the actual facts or conviction rate. Fusion Centers in each state collectively receive billions of federal tax dollars using similar conviction rates.

There is more than enough evidence for an official inquest into these programs. Perspective of a Bush war crime victim based ion over 15 years of first-hand experience, not the official view of the ACLU.

Anonymous

And ONE of them had the goddam nerve to ask to be "tried using Sharia Law." Which even hyis freakin' attorney's supervisor said NO to.
Anyone who feels sorry for the people who are actually guilty of torturing 2,989 people into deathj, for which they've never felt a single wisp of remorse, make me want to throw up on them.

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