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CIA releases memo clearing Gina Haspel in torture tape destruction

CIA releases memo clearing Gina Haspel in torture tape destruction

CIA releases memo clearing Gina Haspel in torture tape destruction
April 21
09:54 2018

The Central Intelligence Agency has declassified an internal memo clearing US President Donald Trump’s choice to head the spy agency of wrongdoing for the destruction of videotapes depicting the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005.

The CIA released the review in response to demands by members of Congress for more information on the career of Gina Haspel, who faces a rocky confirmation hearing in the Senate on May 19 over her involvement in the agency’s harsh interrogation program and torture.

Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Martin Heinrich and Ron Wyden have sent several letters to the CIA demanding a public accounting of Haspel's record.

The declassified memo is the conclusion of a “disciplinary review” conducted in 2011 by former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell. It came after the Justice Department demanded a review of the waterboarding incident as a special prosecutor failed to bring charges against anyone involved.

After interviews with top legal advisers at the CIA, along with a review of documents and phone call records, Morell decided that Haspel and others had done nothing wrong.

Morell said in a statement that Haspel drafted a cable, under instruction from her boss former clandestine service chief Jose Rodriguez, ordering the destruction of the videotapes.

“I have concluded that she acted appropriately in her role as Mr. Rodriguez’s chief of staff, including in her efforts to press for and facilitate a resolution of the matter, as well as in her drafting of the cable that authorized the destruction of the tapes,” Morell wrote

Haspel, who at the time served as Rodriguez’ chief of staff, has been reported as having strongly advocated for the move.

The CIA said it believed the declassified memo should satisfy skeptical Senate Democrats.

However, Democrats were not pleased with the release, according to reports.

Much of what Haspel has done during her 33-year tenure is classified. The most controversial part of her career came after the 9/11 attacks, when she was put in charge of a secret CIA black site in Thailand, where at least two al-Qaeda suspects were tortured during interrogation.

Haspel, 61, has never held a political appointment and would become the first woman the head the CIA if confirmed by the Senate.

President Trump nominated Haspel to lead the agency, after he tapped current CIA director Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state.

Progressive groups are pushing back against Haspel’s nomination, saying her involvement in the CIA’s torture program should “disqualify her” from the top position.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has 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.”

Despite her controversial past, Haspel’s rise is not entirely surprising. She previously served as the CIA deputy director and led undercover spying operations across the world.

 

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Alexander Ionov

Alexander Ionov

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