News & Politics

Newly Released Cables Reveal Cruelty and Pointlessness of CIA Torture Under Gina Haspel

Trump's CIA director played a role in Bush-era torture of terror suspects. Newly released cables reveal more information.

Photo Credit: C-SPAN

When Trump nominated Gina Haspel to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, she was confirmed despite public outrage over her involvement with Bush-era CIA torture operations at a black site prison in Thailand, as well as her role in helping the CIA cover up the practice.

Now, 11 newly released top-secret cables described by the New York Times detail a grim picture of a detainee at the facility she ran in 2002, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, and the treatment he received on her watch.

Specifically, Nashiri's interrogators waterboarded him, relentlessly pushing harder and harder as he suffocated and cried out in pain. At various points, he was also shaved, locked in a box, and slammed against a wall. National Security Archive Director Tom Blanton told the Times that Haspel, in her role as chief of the base, would have written or approved the cables detailing these practices.

The unredacted portions of the cables suggest that Nashiri, who was accused of masterminding the 2000 terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, gave interrogators no useful information. He admitted to his involvement in the Cole bombing and named some aborted plots against other ships in the Strait of Hormuz, but divulged nothing that would have helped the U.S. government avert an imminent attack or save lives.

Haspel, though she told the Senate she regrets her role in the torture program and disavowed its use, maintains that the program yielded usable intelligence. But the Senate's 2014 report on the torture program failed to find any evidence that the techniques produced anything.

Trump has endorsed bringing back torture, and during the 2016 campaign, he advocated for killing the families of suspected terror suspects, both of which would constitute war crimes.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.