Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson took CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel to the woodshed on Saturday morning for using a Nazi defense to excuse her role in the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.
Earlier this week, Haspel testified during her confirmation hearing that she would not restart the torture program if she were ordered to do so by President Donald Trump. She said:
“Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program.”
But of particular concern was Haspel’s suggestion that torture was “technically legal” even though it has been outlawed for decades by the United Nations torture convention, of which our nation is a signatory. And it’s illegal under national law as well and goes totally against the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. Torture is also considered a war crime.
Haspel also excused her role in overseeing a black torture site by saying she was just “following orders.”
That didn’t fly with Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to retired four-star General Colin Powell.
During an appearance on MSNBC, Wilkerson pointed out that Nazi war criminals used the same excuse as their defense at Nuremberg.
“Gina Haspel has a record that I would entertain very carefully before I would appoint her to any position. One, she in fact said that she was only following orders. That was the defense of Nazis at Nuremberg. Two: she destroyed evidence of what she did … and if what she did was legal, why did she feel like she had to destroy the evidence?”
Indeed, Haspel ordered the destruction of interrogation tapes showing agents torturing detainees, an action that she was grilled for during her confirmation hearing.
But Wilkerson wasn’t done.
“Three — and this one bothers me the most because I’ve made a study and I teach the bureaucratic organization of the U.S. government since World War II — I would never, if I were president, never appoint a person who had been in the bowels of the CIA in covert operations; getting people to betray their countries for money essentially then running those people, having those people killed and then hiring new people. That’s what they do. We need them, but they need to stay in the bowels of the CIA, not as the director of the CIA. I would never appoint a person who had been in covert ops for 33 years as the director of that organization.”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
Haspel’s nomination is currently facing a tight vote in the Senate, especially after Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), a victim of brutal torture as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War urged them to vote against her in a powerful statement he issued on Wednesday.
“Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”
Letting Haspel lead the CIA would be like letting a Nazi war criminal lead a German military or intelligence agency all while knowing what they did to be tried at Nuremberg. Haspel watched as the agents under her supervision committed war crimes. She should be fired and prosecuted, not promoted to the highest position in the agency.
Featured Image: YouTube screenshot.