On Capitol Hill Wednesday, President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, announced she would not restart the CIA’s interrogation program. But she repeatedly refused to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral. Haspel’s comments came in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, as she made her case to become the first woman to head the agency. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. At least two Republican senators have come out against her—Rand Paul and John McCain, who said her “role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing & her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” But Haspel may still be confirmed with the help of Democratic lawmakers. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has already announced he will back Haspel. We speak with Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept and host of the weekly podcast “Intercepted.”
"This hearing was a farce, where, unfortunately, some of the Democrats and all of the Republicans engaged in a collective endorsement of what is, in my view, quite clearly, a CIA propaganda operation," said Scahill. "It’s a coup of sorts to have someone like Gina Haspel, who has been involved with destroying evidence, torture, kidnapping, and refuses—refuses—to denounce any of it. I mean, it’s incredible that 17 years after 9/11 and—and, I’m sorry, Obama plays a huge role in how this happened. The moment Obama said, 'We need to look forward, not backward,' was the moment that Gina Haspel was able to become a viable candidate for CIA. And, I mean, this is a very, very serious development and the result of a probably extralegal propaganda campaign and an operation aimed at the domestic American public."