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"Torture is wrong"

A clear message displayed at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 8, 2013. (Photo: Justin Norman/flickr/cc)

#BlockHaspel: As Clock Ticks, Groups Ratchet Up Pressure to Stop Torturer Gina Haspel From Heading CIA

"Gina Haspel was complicit in torture and must not be promoted to CIA director," says the Center for Victims of Torture

Andrea Germanos

As the White House steps up its defense of Gina Haspel with a 27-page talking points memo, advocacy groups are staging a last-ditch effort to block her nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

With just days before she faces the Senate Intelligence Committee, dozens of groups—including CodePink, ACLU, Indivisible and VoteVets—are taking to social media to highlight her role in the CIA's covert torture program and to urge constituents to demand their senators vote against her nomination.

Torture experts are also taking to op-ed pages in major news outlets to say that if she is confirmed by the Senate, it will be nothing short of an endorsement of torture.

Writing at the Washington Post Thursday, Léonce Byimana, executive director of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, argued that President Donald Trump "openly embraces torture, and he wants to name a CIA director who has followed orders to use it on people. There's no telling what future orders Trump might give. But we can be sure that Haspel would follow them."

Yet "the agency's ruthless disregard for human dignity and fundamental rights in the Americas"—as well as "collective amnesia regarding the agency's abuses"—may be exactly what makes the CIA think Haspel is "perfect for the job," asserted James Cavallaro, a Stanford Law School professor and the director of the school's International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic and Human Rights Center.

Opposition to Haspel comes not only from anti-war and human rights experts but from retired members of the military as well. Last month, 109 retired generals and admirals wrote to members of the U.S. Senate to caution against her nomination, saying it "would send a terrible signal to confirm as the next Director of the CIA someone who was so intimately involved in this dark chapter of our nation's history."

The White House acknowledges that it'll be a close vote at her confirmation hearing May 9.

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