Gina Haspel Should be Prosecuted, Not Confirmed to Run the CIA

Debra Sweet | May 8, 2018

The CIA nominee supervised detainee torture at a “black site” in Thailand 

Gina Haspel arrived to run “Detention Site Green” in late October 2002, after the harsh interrogation of Abu Zubeydah that reportedly reduced attendant personnel to tears. 

She supervised the interrogation of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques during at least four separate periods.

Interrogators at the site sought to make terror suspects talk by slamming them against walls, keeping them from sleeping, holding them in coffin-sized boxes and forcing water down their throats — a technique called waterboarding. 

Haspel drafted the cable ordering destruction of videotape evidence

In 2005, Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s counterterrorism chief, ordered the destruction of some 92 videotapes of the harsh methods being used on al-Qaeda suspects at that the black site Haspel had once run.

Haspel drafted the cable, and has been described, along with Rodriquez, as the biggest advocate in the agency for destroying the tapes.

She helped feed repeated lies about effectiveness of torture to CIA superiors, Congress, and two Presidents.  Internal documents and CIA cables show Haspel was an enthusiastic supporter of the “enhanced interrogation": (torture) program.

As a senior officer in the CIA Counterterrorism Center and then at the National Clandestine Services (where she was chief of staff in 2005), Ms. Haspel played a leading role in the creation and perpetuation of the CIA’s false claims that torture uniquely produced actionable intelligence that saved lives.

The documents include a listing of 12 specific cables Ms. Haspel authored or authorized as chief of base at Detention Site Green in Thailand that, according to the CIA Inspector General report, accurately describe the torture sessions that were documented on the now-destroyed videotapes.

The torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in Thailand

Ms. Haspel became chief of base at Detention Site Green when Abd al-Rahim Al Nashiri arrived from being tortured by the CIA in Afghanistan, on November 15, 2002.

Al-Nashiri is now a forever prisoner at Guantanamo. He is a physical and mental wreck. Torture has likely and irremediably tainted his military commission trial. His condition is Exhibit A that enhanced interrogation caused severe and permanent damage — the statutory definition of torture.

He was waterboarded at the black site in Afghanistan, then again at another site in Thailand, where Haspel was physically present.

One agent described a particular site set up after Haspel’s directive to “turn up the heat.” He thought it was good for interrogations because it was the closest thing he had seen to a dungeon. The dungeon was kept in total darkness at all times, and the guards wore headlamps. The prisoners were in cells, kept completely naked, and were shackled to the walls and sometimes ceilings. They were given buckets for their waste. When they were subjected to sleep deprivation, they were tied to a bar on the ceiling so that they had to stand with their arms above their heads, and would have their limbs painfully pulled out of their sockets if they passed out.

In Afghanistan, this is what that entailed, according to the lawyers assigned to Nashiri’s case at Gitmo: “A rag was placed over his forehead and eyes and water poured into his mouth until he began to choke and aspirate. The rag was then lowered, suffocating him with the water still in his throat, sinuses, and lungs. Eventually the rag was lifted and the water expurgated, allowing him to take three to four breaths before the process was repeated.” Other techniques were used, this time at a black site in Poland: “ On at least one occasion, they placed a broomstick behind petitioner’s knees as he knelt and then forced his body backwards, pulling his knee joints apart until he started to scream. On another occasion, agents cinched petitioner’s elbows behind his back and hoisted him to the ceiling, causing onlookers to fear that they dislocated his shoulders. On still other occasions, petitioner was [redacted] and deprived of sleep for days on end.”

Nashiri was later transferred to Poland. We don’t know what Haspel’s involvement was with what happened there, but the prison was hellish and depraved beyond belief. Constant nudity, cold cells and cold water dousings, total darkness at all times, sleep deprivation by being shackled above the head and made to stand for 72 hours at a time. Rectal feedings. At one point, Nashiri was threatened with a pistol, another time with a revved-up cordless drill.

Abu Zubaydah

The CIA established Detention Site Green on March 31, 2002 to house Abu Zubaydah, the first “high value detainee” captured by the CIA, which mistakenly assumed Zubaydah was a high-ranking Al-Qaeda operative.

In 2002, Haspel was in charge of a secret “black site” prison in Thailand where detainees were subject to abusive interrogation techniques. Current and former CIA officials say Haspel arrived to take the helm at the prison after its most famous detainee, Abu Zubeydah, was waterboarded in a manner so horrific, according to a Senate report, that it reduced some CIA personnel to tears.

From August 4, 2002, through August 23, 2002, the CIA subjected Abu Zubaydah to its enhanced interrogation techniques on a near 24-hour-per-day basis.

After Abu Zubaydah had been in complete isolation for 47 days, the most aggressive interrogation phase began at approximately 11:50 AM on August 4, 2002. Security personnel entered the cell, shackled and hooded Abu Zubaydah, and removed his towel (Abu Zubaydah was then naked). Without asking any questions, the interrogators placed a rolled towel around his neck as a collar, and backed him up into the cell wall (an interrogator later acknowledged the collar was used to slam Abu Zubaydah against a concrete wall). The interrogators then removed the hood, performed an attention grab, and had Abu Zubaydah watch while a large confinement box was brought into the cell and laid on the floor. A cable states Abu Zubaydah “was unhooded and the large confinement box was carried into the interrogation room and paced [sic] on the floor so as to appear as a coffin.”

From 4 August, for at least 20 days, he was subjected to harsher treatment by CIA agents; confinement for more than 200 hours in a narrow, coffin-like box, and nearly 30 hours in a smaller box only 50cm wide.

He was also slammed against the wall, and "waterboarded" 83 times - strapped naked to a bench, his face covered with a cloth, which was then saturated with water, causing him to choke and vomit.