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Tell the Senate: Reject torturer Gina Haspel as CIA director

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The petition to the Senate reads:

"Block and resist Trump's nomination of torturer Gina Haspel for CIA director."

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    Tell the Senate: Reject torturer Gina Haspel as CIA director
    Donald Trump is assembling a war cabinet.

    John Bolton is such an extremist that a Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm him as ambassador to the United Nations in 2005.1 Trump just made him national security adviser. CIA Director Mike Pompeo wants to destroy the Iran deal and supercharge domestic spying. Trump just nominated him to be secretary of state. Longtime CIA officer Gina Haspel ran a secret "black site" prison in Thailand and later destroyed the videotaped evidence of brutal waterboarding sessions.2 Trump has nominated her to take over as CIA chief.

    Trump does not need Senate approval to appoint Bolton, but Haspel must be confirmed. We have a chance to block her nomination and stop Trump’s war machine, but we have to make sure every Senate Democrat holds the line and that Republicans of good conscience join them.

    Tell the Senate: Block and resist Gina Haspel's confirmation as CIA director.

    Gina Haspel ran a secret prison in Thailand where CIA personnel brutally interrogated detainees with waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in boxes and other torture techniques.3 In 2005, she signed off on an order to destroy videotapes of the torture sessions.4

    A 2009 Senate report found that the torture that Haspel and other CIA officials oversaw after Sept. 11 never led to "imminent threat" intelligence that the CIA used to justify the practice.5 Tortured detainees made up information and often gave more useful information without being tortured.6 The report also criticized the CIA for "inadequate and deeply flawed" management of the interrogation program, including improper screening and poor training of interrogators.7

    Tell the Senate: Block and resist Gina Haspel's confirmation as CIA director.

    As of today, Haspel could not legally order CIA personnel to resume torturing suspects. A 2015 law reinforced that these interrogation techniques are illegal.8 But extraordinary rendition, in which prisoners are sent abroad to be held and possibly tortured by foreign governments, remains legal today.9 Just as disturbing, Trump has repeatedly said he wants to bring back waterboarding "and a hell of a lot worse."10 We need government officials who will stand up to Trump's violent impulses and push for legal and effective intelligence gathering.

    If the United States is going to live up to its ideals of respecting human rights at home and around the world, we must draw a line somewhere – we cannot reward torturers with top government jobs.

    Yet Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he has not advised Democrats to oppose Haspel.11 Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who once opposed Haspel for a CIA appointment because of her past role in torture, has now said this of Haspel: "To the best of my knowledge she has been a good deputy director and I look forward to the opportunity to speak with her again."12

    The comments from Sens. Schumer and Feinstein make it clear that without massive pressure, the Senate will confirm Haspel in a heartbeat. We need to stand up for human rights and block anyone who tortured detainees from being director of the CIA.

    Tell the Senate: Block and resist Gina Haspel's confirmation as CIA director.

    Note: An earlier version of this campaign stated that Gina Haspel oversaw the torture of Abu Zubaydah. This is incorrect according to a retraction published by ProPublica on March 16, 2018. We have updated this page accordingly.

    References:

    1. The New York Times Editorial Board, " Yes, John Bolton really is that dangerous," March 23, 2018.
    2. Matthew Rosenberg, "New C.I.A. Deputy Director, Gina Haspel, had role in torture," The New York Times, Feb. 2, 2017.
    3. Adam Goldman, "Gina Haspel, Trump’s choice for C.I.A., played role in torture program," The New York Times, March 13, 2018.
    4. Matthew Rosenberg, "New C.I.A. Deputy Director, Gina Haspel, had role in torture."
    5. NBC News, "Senate report finds CIA interrogation tactics were ineffective," Dec. 9, 2014.
    6. Ibid.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Rupert Stone, "Has Obama banned torture? Yes and no," Al Jazeera America, Dec. 1, 2015.
    9. Ibid.
    10. Sarah Margon, "Giving Up the High Ground," Foreign Affairs, Feb. 13, 2018.
    11. Deirdre Shesgreen and Erin Kelly, "Trump turmoil: Contentious Senate confirmation hearings await Pompeo and Haspel," USA Today, March 13, 2018.
    12. Patricia Zengerle, "Senate Intel Chairman Backs Haspel to Head CIA, Democrats Concerned," US News & World Report, March 13, 2018.