President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Monday morning to defend his choice of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel as CIA Director and managed to defend torture at the same time.
After Trump picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become the new Secretary of State, he nominated Haspel to replace him. Unlike her appointment as deputy, which does not require Senate confirmation, her nomination to be CIA Director does need Senate approval.
And that’s a problem for Trump because Haspel oversaw the use of torture at a CIA black site in Thailand and also ordered the destruction of video tapes showing the torture of suspected terrorists.
But Trump is whining about Democrats holding up her confirmation and argued that torture is just being “tough on terror.”
My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
Torture, which includes waterboarding, is considered a war crime, which would make Haspel a war criminal under international and national law.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross:
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 contain a number of provisions that absolutely prohibit torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment and outrages upon individual dignity.
For example, torture is prohibited by Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions, Article 12 of the First and Second Conventions, Articles 17 and 87 of the Third Convention, Article 32 of the Fourth Convention, Article 75 (2 a & e) of Additional Protocol I and Article 4 (2 a & h) of Additional Protocol II. In international armed conflict, torture constitutes a grave breach under Articles 50, 51, 130 and 147 respectively of these Conventions. Under Article 85 of Additional Protocol I, these breaches constitute war crimes. In non-international armed conflict, they are considered serious violations.
The United States is also a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Torture, which we signed in 1988.
Is has been known that torture is an ineffective interrogation technique for 400 years now, as reported by the Scientific American last year.
Waterboarding is also torture. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who suffered torture during his time as a POW in Vietnam, says that waterboarding is torture. So did journalist Christopher Hitchens, who actually volunteered to experience it firsthand.
“When the late journalist Christopher Hitchens underwent waterboarding for one of his Vanity Fair columns, he was forewarned (in a document he had to sign) that he might “receive serious and permanent (physical, emotional and psychological) injuries and even death, including injuries and death due to the respiratory and neurological systems of the body,” Scientific American reported. “Even though Hitchens was a hawk on terrorism, he nonetheless concluded: “If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”
Even Fox News host Sean Hannity must know that waterboarding is torture. After all, he once offered to be waterboarded for charity to prove that it is not torture, but nine years later, Hannity has not followed through with his offer.
Haspel should be rejected by the Senate. The CIA Director should not be someone who oversaw torture in violation of national and international law. Our nation needs to punish those who commit torture, not reward them. Letting Haspel be the head of the CIA would set a dangerous precedent and open the door for torture to resume, and would further erode our reputation around the world.
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