After Giving It Some Thought, Gina Haspel Thinks Torture Was a Bad Idea and Thank You for Your Vote

Illustration for article titled After Giving It Some Thought, Gina Haspel Thinks Torture Was a Bad Idea and Thank You for Your Vote
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It should be pretty easy to declare that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the CIA after 9/11 were morally wrong, but CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel repeatedly declined, during her confirmation hearings, to do so. Oops, that was bad, and now, a week later, she has modified her stance.

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In a letter to ranking Senate intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner, who now supports her nomination, Haspel sings an ever so slightly more regretful tune, while still (falsely) claiming, as the CIA does, that “valuable intelligence” was (or, as she put it in her Senate testimony, may have been) collected. From NBC:

“While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote in the new letter. “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.”

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I’m not entirely sure why we’re taking so deeply to heart a desperate last-minute turnaround from the former head of a Thailand black site who spent a week equivocating on whether or not torturing terrorism suspects was morally wrong, but here we are, trapped inside a failed Cartoon Network pilot about evil bureaucrats. Welcome back, girl! You made it!

Ellie is a freelance writer and former senior writer at Jezebel. She is pursuing a master's degree in science journalism at Columbia University in the fall.

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DISCUSSION

This has always been a simple argument for me whenever I face off with anyone trying to defend torture. If torture worked, then with everything that went on in those days, there’s got to be one piece of intel they got then acted upon, that they couldn’t have gotten from another source, that they can reveal by now. Any of the last three presidents could have declassified it and shown the world. No one in favor of these programs, even the ones who knew everything about it, has been pressing for that to happen.

I’m not even asking them to prove a negative, and show something they then used to save lives. If they’re right, there’s got to be at least one data point they got from torture that they then used, and can be revealed now in a way that wouldn’t compromise sources, contacts, and methods.

People who believe torture works are just as full of crap as people who claim climate change is perfectly normal and humans have nothing to do with it.