The Democratic Resistance came out in full force during the confirmation process of Gina Haspel, the new CIA director nominated by President Donald Trump. According to The Intercept and NBC News sources, however, it wasn’t Haspel that Democrats were resisting — it was “disturbing” documents that implicate her in Bush-era torture programs and destruction of evidence to protect the agency she now leads.
The Intercept’s journalist Ryan Grim published a Monday morning email from Elizabeth Falcone, the senior aide for Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who reigns as the top Democrat within the Senate Intelligence Committee. Within the email, provided by a Senate source, Falcone declared staff access to the controversial memo would no longer be granted without “urgent need,” regardless of security clearance status, adding Congressional officials could only view the memo if granted approval upon request:
“Folks — the classified Intel staff memo that has been available on Haspel is currently not at senate security and unable to be viewed. If you have urgent need to read it, please call me or have your chief call mine. Thx.”
Hiding CIA secrets is especially rich coming from Sen. Warner, a fierce RussiaGate peddler working for #TheResistance, who criticised the CIA for their “unacceptable” lack of transparency in the run-up to Haspel’s hearing:
“Given that we are only two days from the date of your confirmation hearing on May 9, 2018, this lack of transparency for the American people about someone nominated for a cabinet-level position is unacceptable,” Warner wrote, according to CNN. “As the acting Director of the CIA, it is in your power to order the declassification of relevant material or to hasten the process. I urge you to take immediate action to remedy these problems.”
Sen. Warner voted for her regardless—voting alongside fellow Democrats in Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
Three sources familiar with the memo, one a Haspel supporter, told NBC the memo was drafted by committee staffer Evan Gottesman, currently working for Haspel’s staunch Democratic critic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.
The sources went on to claim senators and cleared staff members were previously allowed to view the “disturbing” contents, which cites internal CIA messages that outlined “hard to read” cases of torture by the hands of U.S. officials and the destruction of evidence, as well as detailed passages regarding her role within the agency more broadly.
It was once CIA officers vetted the memo, declaring there were “factual issues” with how it described conduct within the agency, that the decision was made to briefly pull access to the document until a few hours before the vote.
Yasmine Taeb, senior policy counsel for the Center for Victims of Torture, told TYT Investigates that, contrary to opinions in Washington, the memo exposed crucial evidence that should have been reviewed by Congressional officials prior to Wednesday’s vote:
“This nomination fight is not over,” Taeb told the journalist. “There are several Republican offices that have expressed concerns over Haspel’s nomination. We hope that senators will read all the materials made available to them — not just documents provided by the CIA but also the memo prepared by the SSCI minority staff.”
Senate sources told The Intercept few senators actually read the memo, including those who had publicly announced their support for Haspel. Details within the memo seem consistent with TrigTent’s previous reporting on John Kiriakou, the former CIA officer turned jailed whistleblower who claimed he dealt with “Bloody Gina” on a personal basis and alleged she directly oversaw torture at a secret CIA “black-site” prison in Thailand code-named “Cat’s Eye.”
Speaking this week to Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman:
“Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information… it’s wonderful this president or any president wants to nominate a woman as head of the CIA — but not Gina Haspel. There must be 50 women across government who are more qualified to fill the position.”
According to The New Yorker, Haspel directly oversaw the abusive treatment of Saudi Arabian terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (alleged to have connections to Al Qaeda despite no trial conducted), who was forced to temporarily drown via waterboarding, a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and basic human rights codes. Other tactics used during this time include depriving prisoners of sleep, squeezing prisoners into coffins, as well as using food and water to anally ‘feed’ detainees.
Kiriakou said Haspel was the commanding official who ordered video evidence of all torture destroyed, a clear violation of the Freedom Of Information Act (FIOA), which resulted in an investigation from the Bush-era Justice Department without any charges served. Based on findings in Footnote 857 of the FBI torture report, experts believe evidence was destroyed to cover-up similar torture practices against men like Ibn Shaykh al-Libi, an Afghanistan national formerly detained in Egypt, who gave the CIA false information that was used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq — after being tortured, of course.