Thanks to U.S. Senate, Torture Is 'Legal'

Curt Wechsler | May 17, 2018
UPDATE: Haspel Confirmed

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The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to support Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director Wednesday. Haspel's defense of torture practices she facilitated at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 -- that they were "legal" at the time -- disqualifies her from assuming the role of CIA director, argues professor emerita Marjorie Cohn. Failure to condemn the rescinded opinions of John Yoo invites a repetition of the brutality the professor authorized. Haspel provides little assurance that she wouldn't, like former vice president Dick Cheney says, "do it again."  

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture," the Convention Against Torture states unequivocally.

Cohn finds Haspel's moral compass "elusive." The nominee's non-responsive replies to questions about whether she would follow presidential orders, in particular to authorize waterboarding, she channeled John Yoo's response about executive priviledge to crush the testicles of detainee children: "I do not believe the president would ask me to do that." 

Congress may elect to find torture "legal," but they can't make it moral. Shame on Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Mark Warner of Virginia, and their approving constituency.

So much for the Democratic Party's commitment to human rights. 

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