The Haspel Nomination and the Torture Question

What Her Confirmation Would Mean for Obama's Delicate Bargain

The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building in Langley, Virginia, August 2008. Larry Downing / REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump’s nomination of career officer Gina Haspel as director of the Central Intelligence Agency has precipitated a debate about whether her alleged role in the so-called enhanced interrogation programs green-lighted by former President George W. Bush in the months and years after 9/11 ought to be disqualifying. Those who oppose Haspel’s nomination have focused on her role in CIA interrogations that used torture—including as the supervisor of a “black site” in Thailand where enhanced interrogation techniques were used—as a prima facie disqualification. “Gina Haspel Is a Torturer. What Else Does the Senate Need to Know?” asked a recent headline for a Politico opinion piece by Alberto Mora. Other critics point out that Haspel’s role in destroying evidence underscores her culpability, as it suggests that she understood that her actions—and those of others who participated in the program—were at least morally

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