For Immediate Release
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CIA Torture Architects Ordered to Testify Over Cover-up Involving Trump Appointee
Guantánamo's military court will reportedly call CIA witnesses to explain the Agency's destruction of torture evidence - an act carried out in part by the new Deputy Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel.
In a one-page ruling cited by the Miami Herald, judge Air Force Col. Vance Spath authorized defense lawyers to call four witnesses to explain the CIA's shredding of 91 videotapes depicting the experimental torture of prisoners in the Agency's black sites.
Ms Haspel, who has not been called, was instrumental in both the torture and the shredding of the tapes - the latter of which triggered the Senate's inquiry into the CIA's rendition and torture program. No official has faced prosecution over either the torture itself or the destruction of the tapes. Ms Haspel was recently promoted by President Trump to the number two position at the CIA.
The court wants to hear about the tapes as part of the defense case against Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, who is facing charges based on torture evidence and is likely featured in the tapes. It will call former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez Jr., the clandestine service chief who in 2005 ordered the destruction of tapes against Rizzo’s advice — as well as James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, psychologists who designed and implemented the interrogation techniques recorded in the videos. None of those men has ever testified in a court.
The CIA's torture 'guinea pig' Abu Zubaydah was held with Al Nashiri in the CIA black site in Thailand overseen by Ms Haspel, and likely featured heavily in the tapes. Unlike al Nashiri, Abu Zubaydah has never been charged with an offense; he was waterboarded 83 times in one month before the CIA concluded that he was not a member of al Qaeda. He remains in Guantánamo after Ms Haspel reportedly sought assurances during his torture that he would “remain in isolation and incommunicado for the remainder of his life.”
Reprieve attorney Shelby Sullivan Bennis said: "The CIA's abuse of prisoners and destruction of evidence is no longer merely historical. We now have a key player in these crimes, Gina Haspel, in a top post at the Trump's CIA. We cannot learn from history unless we know what it is. And we cannot know what Ms Haspel is capable of doing with our CIA unless we know the truth about her. This testimony will be a welcome first step towards a long-overdue public reckoning with the past and the future of the CIA."
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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.