The most familiar and widely-used euphemism for the CIA's torture of human beings—misleadingly deployed by human rights violators, lawmakers, and many uncritical journalists over recent years—has been "enhanced interrogation techniques."
"Being responsible for torture doesn't make you tough on terrorism. It makes you guilty of crimes against humanity."
But early Monday morning, in order to defend his troublesome pick to lead the CIA Gina Haspel—who played a key role in the agency's post-9/11 torture program—President Donald Trump simply described Haspel as someone who was "tough on terrorists" to explain the reason she is "under fire" by human rights defenders, lawmakers, and the voting public who oppose her nomination.
My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
Clearly, coming from a president whose capacity for lying and ignoring facts remains rather unparalleled in modern times, it was a statement so distant from reality—and divorced from human decency—that critics quickly fired back:
Gina Haspel is complicit in torture, a criminal act under domestic & international law (no matter what the torture memos said). Not even a #Trump nominee should be able to withstand that. Withdrawing is the minimum of what we should expect. Prosecution should be next. https://t.co/8V5eEivhqc— Natasha Lycia Bannan (@lyciaora) May 7, 2018
The President is defending his CIA Director nominee *because* she participated in illegal, immoral torture. That's a true danger in these times. https://t.co/arURjaXXZA— Hina Shamsi (@HinaShamsi) May 7, 2018
Being responsible for torture doesn’t make you tough on terrorism. It makes you guilty of crimes against humanity.— OneTabletDaily (@OneTabletDaily) May 7, 2018
With Haspel facing a scheduled confirmation hearing in the Senate on Wednesday, critics of her nomination are ramping up their campaign to make sure every senator is under pressure to oppose approving someone so intimately involved in the CIA's mistreatment and abuse of the people it detained: