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Donald Trump May Choose Bush-Era Torture Architect for CIA Chief

Jose Rodriguez is also infamous for destroying 92 tapes of CIA personnel torturing detainees—for which he was never prosecuted

Jose Rodriguez

Bush-era torture architect Jose Rodriguez defended his role in the clandestine program in a 60 Minutes interview in 2012. (Screenshot: CBS News)

President-elect Donald Trump may choose an architect of the George W. Bush administration's torture program, Jose Rodriguez, to head the CIA, The Intercept reported Friday.

The Intercept cites a post-election prediction from Dentons, a law firm where Trump confidante Newt Gingrich (himself a potential secretary of state) serves as an advisor. "Dentons was also retained by Make America Number 1, one of the primary Super PACs supporting Trump's candidacy," the outlet writes.

Rodriguez directed the National Clandestine Service and "helped develop the CIA black sites, secret prisons operated in foreign countries where interrogators used a range of torture tactics, including the use of 'waterboarding,' the simulated drowning technique once used by the Khmer Rouge and Nazi agents to glean information from detainees," The Intercept writes.

The horrific torture techniques used by the Bush-era CIA have been made public by former detainees and rights organizations in the years since the program ended. They include beatings, makeshift electric chairs, hanging detainees from ceilings by the wrists for days at a time, holding drills to detainees' heads and threatening their families with rape, as well as various forms of water torture.

Surviving the Trump Era

Trump campaigned on a promise to bring back waterboarding. "I like [waterboarding] a lot," he told a cheering crowd in June. "I don't think it's tough enough."


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Last month, a federal judge ruled that Rodriguez would be subjected to questioning in an ongoing ACLU lawsuit over the torture regime he directed.

Rodriguez is also infamous for destroying 92 tapes of CIA personnel torturing detainees. "I was just getting rid of some ugly visuals that could put the lives of my people at risk," the torture architect said in defense of the decision, according to his book published in 2012.

The Justice Department declined in 2010 to investigate Rodriguez for destroying the tapes.

Rodriguez expresses pride for his role in the torture program, telling 60 Minutes in a 2012 interview that "we did the right thing for the right reason."

Former detainees—that is, those who survived—continue to suffer from the debilitating psychological effects of severe trauma for years after enduring CIA torture.

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