FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Return of the Torturers: Back to the Crime Scenes of the Past

by

The Trump administration has signaled that it is willing to return to the heinous crimes of the past two decades, including torture and abuse, secret prisons, and extraordinary renditions. The appointment of Gina Haspel as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency clearly indicates that the use of torture, including the use of waterboarding, which has been endorsed by the President, the national security advisor, and the CIA director, could once again be a major part of the U.S. campaign against international terrorism.

Haspel was a central figure in the CIA’s criminal behavior during the Bush administration.  She ran the CIA’s first secret prison in Thailand, where the brutal interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri took place.  No intelligence was gleaned from the use of torture in these interrogations.  When the head of the Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the destruction of the videotapes of the torture, it was Haspel who drafted the cable that ordered the destruction.  This was clearly evidence of obstruction of justice in view of the investigation of torture and abuse that had already begun.

When former CIA director John Brennan tried to make Haspel the deputy director for operations in 2013, the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, blocked her assignment.  Currently, the Senate intelligence committee is under the stewardship of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), who has blocked all attempts to circulate Feinstein’s authoritative account of the CIA torture program.  And the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, does not even believe that waterboarding is an act of torture and has referred to those who conducted waterboarding as “patriots.”

Haspel was also a leading voice for extraordinary renditions, which involved the “capture” or kidnapping of individuals suspected of acts of terrorism.  When the CIA concluded that these victims had no important information to reveal, they were turned over to foreign intelligence services, such as those in Syria and Jordan, that conducted their own methods of torture and abuse.

Nevertheless, the New York Times refers to the promotion for Haspel as an example of the CIA’s “ambivalent attitude” toward torture and abuse because former intelligence officials, such as intelligence tsar James Clapper and acting director Michael Morell, have praised the appointment.  But Clapper has been known to lie to the Senate intelligence committee about the massive surveillance program of the National Security Agency, and Morell used his own book to lie about the so-called intelligence that was gleaned from so-called “extraordinary interrogation techniques.”

There is no ambivalence here.  This is simply one more example of the CIA promoting those officers who committed crimes on behalf of the agency.  The intelligence officers who were held accountable in the Inspector General’s report on the 9/11 intelligence failure ultimately received promotions and rewards from the agency.  The intelligence officers who participated in the politicization of intelligence in the 1980s similarly received promotions and rewards.  And now we have another example of the “worst of the worst” at the CIA becoming the second most important official of our leading civilian intelligence agency.  There is no better way to create cynicism within the intelligence community and the larger political community than to reward the very people who tarnish the moral compass of the CIA.

The title character of John le Carre’s The Honorable Schoolboy never wanted to deal with problems of ethics and morality.  “Point me and I’ll march,” he said to spymaster George Smiley.  “Tell me the shots, I’ll play them,” he added.  Once again, the CIA is being led by officials who have never accepted or understood the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that declared CIA’s torture program a violation of Geneva Conventions.  This decision should have made those who conducted torture subject to the federal War Crimes Act.  Perhaps if former president Barack Obama had sought accountability and responsibility for the crimes of torture, then we would not be witness to the return of war criminals to positions of responsibility.

More articles by:

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. His latest book is A Whistleblower at the CIA. (City Lights Publishers, 2017).  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail