Posted by Wordsmith on 10 May, 2018 at 9:47 am. 26 comments already!


“My moral compass is strong, I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral even if it was technically legal — I would absolutely not permit it.”

-Gina Haspel

Gina Haspel, when asked at her Senate confirmation hearing yesterday about President Trump’s previously stated idea that torture “absolutely works,”:  “I don’t believe that torture works.”

Later, Kamala Harris used her opportunity to question Haspel with a bit of grandstanding and moral posturing:

“One question I’ve not heard you previously answer”?  Well….In one sense Haspel did answer it when the question was framed as “torture”; but Harris was smart enough to reframe it as “the previous interrogation techniques were immoral”?  For so many of the torture alarmists, they see the two as one and the same thing and that “enhanced interrogation technique” is a euphemism for “torture”.  Like Bush, Rumsfeld, James Mitchell and the CIA interrogators, they don’t condone torture.  EITs however?

Good on Haspel for not falling for the “yes” or “no” trap.  It’s deceptive and dishonest.  If Kamala Harris had framed her question, “Do you believe torture is immoral?”, Haspel would have answered “yes”. How do we know this? Because earlier in the Hearing, she already stated it.

Perhaps one day Harris will be put into a position where she will have to answer a “yes” or “no” question like:  “Do you find it immoral to kill unborn babies, ‘yes’ or ‘no’?”  See the inherent problem in this?  So Kamala Harris is against torture- or more accurately enhanced interrogation techniques applied to terrorists; yet has no qualms about supporting late term abortions?  There’s a moral disconnect somewhere in there.

How is the moral compass of Democrats who confirmed John Brennan (the #4 “spy” at the Agency when EITs were called up, and so in a position much higher up the totem pole than Haspel at the time) under President Obama?  Yet were already raising political manure over her nomination, before the hearing? I suppose one difference is the attention President Trump has drawn to this with his past statements on waterboarding and torture.  If he hadn’t, then only the Code Pink clowns would have shown their consistency colors by showing up for vocal opposition to Haspel’s nomination.

If giving CIA swim lessons could have prevented 3,000 innocent lives from perishing horrible, painful deaths, how is refusing to do so a morally superior position?   Which way is the moral compass pointing in that scenario?

“You know, some day your government is going to turn on you.”

-Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Senator Diane Feinstein, architect of the 2014 SSCI highly partisan, ideologically-agenda-driven “torture report”:

On May 26, 2002, Feinstein was quoted in the New York Times saying that the attacks of 9/11 were a real awakening and that it would no longer be “business as usual.” The attacks, she said, let us know “that the threat is profound” and “that we have to do some things that historically we have not wanted to do to protect ourselves.”

Senator John Rockefeller:

After extraordinary CIA efforts, aided by information obtained through the enhanced-interrogation program, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks, was captured in Pakistan. Shortly afterward, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on CNN’s “Late Edition” on March 2, 2003. Rockefeller, who had been extensively briefed about the CIA’s efforts, told Wolf Blitzer that “happily, we don’t know where [KSM] is,” adding: “He’s in safekeeping, under American protection. He’ll be grilled by us. I’m sure we’ll be proper with him, but I’m sure we’ll be very, very tough with him.”

When Blitzer asked about how KSM would be interrogated, Rockefeller assured him that “there are presidential memorandums that prescribe and allow certain measures to be taken, but we have to be careful.” Then he added: “On the other hand, he does have the information. Getting that information will save American lives. We have no business not getting that information.”

And that’s not all. Blitzer asked if the United States should turn over KSM to a friendly country with no restrictions against torture. Rockefeller, laughing, said he wouldn’t rule it out: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table where he is concerned, because this is the man who has killed hundreds and hundreds of Americans over the last 10 years.”

Let’s not forget Nancy Pelosi and her complicity.

Senator McCain has been fairly consistent in regards to his position on “torture”; but in one respect, he caught flak from the Left and that was when he voted against a bill that would have placed restrictions upon the CIA where interrogations were concerned.

Rand Paul and John McCain:

In a break with President Trump, McCain urged his Senate colleagues to vote against Haspel, charging that “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”

No, Senator McCain.  She hadn’t.  What she avoided was an entrapment question that would have her throw under the bus CIA interrogators who had employed enhanced interrogation techniques.  Not “torture”.

“Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked. I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty,” McCain said in a statement Wednesday.

“But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”

McCain said that he believes Haspel “is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense.”

“However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,” he continued. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

John McCain is a great American and patriot.  Lousy Senator.  And terrible Republican.

Paraphrasing and updating what I had previously written:

John McCain is intimately familiar with torture, having endured it at the hands of his Vietnamese captors during his years as a POW.

But he was never waterboarded. Not by the Spanish Inquisition. Not by the Japanese military. Not by the restrictive nature of the program as run by our CIA. And to be clear, he was tortured not to extract information that might save lives; he was tortured out of cruelty for torture’s sake; and he was tortured to elicit a false confession for propaganda purposes. EITs are not used to obtain either confessions or information.

Nor was McCain ever an interrogator. Not in the FBI. Not in the CIA. Not in the military.

Yet McCain, like “Matthew Alexander” (i.e, Anthony Camarino), commands “authority” and respect on the topic matter because of their respective experiences.

Well, what happened to John McCain wasn’t the same thing that happened to 119 HVD in the CIA program (of which only 33-38 had received one or more EITs at any point in their detention and interrogation).

EITs weren’t meant to work in the same manner as “torture“. It wasn’t the same purpose as torture techniques. Questions weren’t asked during EIT sessions that the interrogator didn’t already know the answers to. Their purpose was to induce a state of hopelessness and cooperation so that information-gathering could occur during debriefing.

No question that some of the EITs were harsh. Why were they called up at all? Because for a third of these HVD, SITs were insufficient. Some of these jihadis had received interrogation resistance training and knew how to defeat common methods, like the rapport-building techniques favored by Ali Soufan and the FBI to achieve confessions for the sake of criminal prosecutions- not for the purpose of timely, actionable intell-gathering. So at a time when there was a great deal of intell buzz regarding a second wave of attacks (KSM: “Soon you will know”), EITs were called up by the CIA (others were approved of for military usage; but waterboarding wasn’t one of them). James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen favor social influence techniques in 99% of cases. Mitchell believes some techniques used by others (by military interrogators and some CIA interrogators who were actually not a part of the RDI program setup by Mitchell and Jessen) were never approved; and were wrongfully applied to mid-level and low-level terrorists/detainees.

Btw, for those who like to cite McCain as the moral authority on torture because he experienced REAL torture: McCain was never waterboarded by the CIA. CIA waterboarding sessions (only 3 HVD were ever waterboarded, with KSM being the last one in March or April of 2003), in purpose and in execution, were vastly different than the water torture often alluded to by those Japanese officers who were prosecuted in WWII for a host of crimes.

I believe the fact that McCain was brutally tortured has distorted his ability to objectively and rationally see the CIA program for what it is and not for how it’s imagined to be- which was not a rogue, out-of-control operation that wantonly “tortured“. McCain is seeing it with his emotions; not his head, imo. BECAUSE of his nightmarish experience at the hands of his Viet Cong captors. The fact that he suffered REAL, bone-shattering types of torture for more than 5 years as a POW may be a detriment and not an asset in his subjective opinion on CIA EITs. Certainly his opinion carries with it great weight, as it should; but it could also be clouding his ability to see the program for what it actually was and not for the hysteria and hyperbole and false narrative and distortions that it became.

Someone who doesn’t share his opinion on CIA waterboarding but whom you will not find cited by the critics is Leo Thorsness, who recently passed.

George Everett Day, Leo Thorsness, Jeremiah Denton are highly decorated war veterans and former POWs who experienced REAL torture at the hands of their Viet Cong captors. They scoff at the notion that what the CIA subjected 33-38 HVD to amounts to the definition of “torture“.

There is some honest arguments on whether or not EITs arise to a definition of “torture“. However, it’s a far cry from “real” torture like pulling off fingernails, beating, breaking bones, drilling holes, etc. And if one is going to cite McCain as backup to the torture narrative, then it’s only fair to mention POWs like him who disagree with him.

McCain’s personal connection is precisely what makes him a uniquely unreliable witness rather than expert witness when it comes to characterizing the CIA RDI program with any level of accuracy and honest perspective.

The totality of Gina Haspel’s 33-year CIA history and selfless service to this country is impressive.

Without Rand Paul’s vote or McCain’s (due to his health, it doesn’t appear he will be present to vote), I believe Haspel will need all other Republican votes and one Democrat vote to be confirmed.

Let’s hope their moral compass is working.

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