Citing her alleged role in torture, Amnesty International on Monday called on President Donald Trump to withdraw his nomination of Gina Haspel to head the CIA, and said that rather that sit before Senate for a confirmation hearing, she should face a Justice Department investigation.
The rights group warned that having her at the helm of the spy agency could pave the way for the president's "rhetoric on torture" to become reality.
"If there is sufficient admissible evidence that she is criminally responsible for crimes under international law, including torture or complicity in torture, [Gina Haspel] must be brought to trial." —Amnesty InternationalShe oversaw a secret "black site" in Thailand where torture took place, and allegedly was directly involvedin the agency's efforts to destroy evidence of torture.
Given her background, Margaret Huang, executive director at Amnesty International USA, said, "Gina Haspel should be investigated, not nominated."
In a document (pdf) outlining the group's stance, Amnesty says that impunity "remains all but total" for those who committed abuses including torture authorized under President George W. Bush, and though "the use of classification renders it impossible to get at the full truth, there are serious and credible allegations that Gina Haspel was closely involved in aspects of the CIA secret detention program."
"If there is sufficient admissible evidence that she is criminally responsible for crimes under international law, including torture or complicity in torture, she must be brought to trial," the group added. "Her nomination to head the very agency which has a festering impunity scandal at its heart—which she may have an interest in perpetuating—should be withdrawn pending this investigation."
If the president fails to withdraw her name, and if a DOJ investigation doesn't begin, Amnesty argues that the Senate should refuse to hold a confirmation hearing.
"We cannot allow a backslide into serious human rights violations like torture or rendition. Without full declassification of information about her alleged role and pending the results of a proper investigation, Amnesty is calling on the Senate to vote against Haspel's appointment as CIA director," Huang said.
"President Trump's dangerous rhetoric on torture is profoundly troubling. In this role, Haspel could be tasked with making this rhetoric a reality. There is too much at stake to entrust this role to someone whose alleged role in crimes under international law is being shrouded in secrecy," she added.
Despite the background that reportedly earned her the nickname "Bloody Gina," it's not clear at this point if Haspel will face much opposition from Democrats if she makes it to a hearing, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week he was not calling on his fellow party members to oppose her.