Gina Haspel is the Right Spook at the Right Time for the Job of CIA Director


“And if they don’t want to do, that’s fine. If they do want to do, then I will work toward that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely, I feel it works,”

– President Trump

Gina Haspel is probably in for a fight. But I believe she will achieve confirmation. Why? Because after all the partisan hysteria is said and done, she appears to be the most qualified candidate to lead the CIA forward; and the one who really should have the most bipartisan appeal.

For the Republican base:

She reportedly gets along well with Trump.

She was “tough on terror”, as President Trump might Tweet. Simply by virtue of the fact that she had a hand of involvement in the CIA RDI program by having been in charge of Detention Green Site in Thailand at some point after Zubaydah had EITs approved and applied to him. No one (yet) knows the extent, degree, and manner in which she had involvement. For the torture alarmists with their fevered imaginations though, she personally waterboarded hundreds and oversaw and ordered torture and the illegal destruction of 94 CIA torture porn tapes. This is delusional. But those are the kind of hyperbolic and hysteria-driven comments that are being fueled by the critics of CIA “torture”. And a number of journalists writing articles who haven’t been paying attention and doing due diligence of fair and accurate reporting are still citing bad/wrongful information that spread through the media, even though ProPublica had made retractions over a month ago.

But having been involved in the CIA program puts her at the business-end tip of the spear; and so even if she wasn’t an interrogator herself, her involvement is a plus for pro-GWoT conservatives who appreciate that America is able to sleep peaceably at night because rough….er….persons stand at the ready to do CIA swim lessons on its behalf.

For Democrats:

She’s a woman.  Do they not like pushing women to be in charge?  Oh, right…just not conservative women.  The thing is, her politics are unknown.  Mike Morell has said that if he had to hazard a guess, even he couldn’t determine which way she leans, politically.

Diane Feinstein- the architect of the 2014 highly partisan, ideologically-agenda-driven, selectively cherry-picked, half-truth-telling SSCI Study on the CIA RDI program- said of Haspel when Trump announced her nomination,

“To the best of my knowledge she has been a good deputy director.”

Word is that she will testify at her confirmation hearing today that she will not be bringing back CIA swim lessons:

During her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, President Trump’s pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, plans on testifying that she will not reinstate waterboarding as a means of gathering intelligence.

Well, duh.  It’s a moot issue.  It’s been dead since 2006 (Mike Hayden as acting CIA Director reviewed the program over the summer of 2006 at a time when the program had self-suspended itself due to rising uncertainty in the wake of public scrutiny and changing legislation such as the 2005 DTA, 2006 MCA, and Rumsfeld v. Hamdan, bringing into question current legality) when Mike Hayden deemed the CIA interrogation program important enough that he restarted it, minus 2 or 3 of the original 13 DoJ-approved EITs.  This included waterboarding.  He decided it was too controversial and a political albatross; and no longer necessary (EITs in general were less commonly needed by 2006, when over half of what we learned about al Qaeda came out of the interrogation of high value terrorists.  In the early two years after 9/11, we knew very little about how al Qaeda worked- its financing, operatives, courier system, training, objectives, future plots, etc.  This at a time when there was a great deal of intell buzz regarding a second wave of attacks coming).  Only 3 HVD were ever even waterboarded:

Zubaydah, 83 pours/splashes.

al-Nashiri 3 times (it’s unclear to me if this is 3 sessions or 3 pours).

KSM, 183 pours/splashes over apparently 15 sessions (5 sessions by KSM’s account).   KSM proved to be resilient against CIA waterboarding.  He even figured out the limitations and time constraints that CIA interrogators operated under and would count off the seconds on his fingers.

KSM was the last to be waterboarded in March or April of 2003.  2003!!!!

All of this political brouhaha and moral posturing over 3 HVD, less than 2 years removed from 9/11, and over 15 years ago! (Issue of waterboarding and black sites first creeped into the public consciousness in 2005, after a WaPo issue broke rumors).  It’s beating the ghost of a dead horse.


This week, he [KSM] asked a military judge at Guantánamo Bay for permission to share six paragraphs of information about Ms. Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Nothing quite like giving the mastermind of 9/11 a public platform to speak truth to power, right?  [/sarcasm]

From the same link:

“She has indicated to the senators she has met with, and will reaffirm tomorrow, her commitment never to restart such a C.I.A. detention and interrogation program,” he said on Tuesday. “She remains fully committed to the U.S. laws and Army Field Manuals that govern interrogation — the legal framework in place today.”

And that’s to be expected.

This is not much different than how John Brennan had walked back his views on the CIA interrogation program when he was being confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Being the #4 guy at the CIA during the height of EIT usage, I don’t recall this level of opposition to his nomination prior to his hearing than Haspel has experienced, having served in a much lower position on the CIA totem pole at the time.  Why so much scaremongering and scrutiny?  Oh, yeah….Trump bad.  Obama good.  Politics and partisanship as usual.

Jack Devine:

“I mean, really. Much of the commentary about Gina is a distortion of her role at the time,” says CIA veteran Jack Devine, pointing out that she was not the “architect” of the Enhanced Interrogation program.

“At that point, she would have been equivalent to a major in the army, not a lieutenant colonel or one-star general, let alone a five-star general.”

John Yoo explaining how the legality issue wasn’t in Haspel’s paygrade, for those who criticize her for “just following orders”.

According to Mike Morell,

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel is telling senators in private meetings that she would “never let the CIA restart an interrogation and detention program.” She says that she will abide by the legal framework governing interrogations detailed in the Army Field Manual.


The content of Haspel’s conversations was revealed by former CIA deputy director and CBS News contributor Michael Morell, who on Friday spoke with former CIA director General Michael Hayden for his podcast, “Intelligence Matters.”  The podcast was previously produced by national security website The Cipher Brief and will be officially relaunched next week by CBS News.


Hayden argued that Haspel was a “brilliant” choice to lead the agency because, he said, “there is no way that an agency officer of Gina’s character and experience will send CIA officers out there to do this again.”

“She won’t do it because she won’t put her officers at risk the way they were put at risk when the nation was made to feel a bit more safe after 9/11,” Hayden told Morell. “If you’re worried about the future on this particular question, Gina Haspel,” Hayden said, “you can’t pick a better person.”

Morell voted for Hillary Clinton, btw.  I know this will piss conservatives off; but I think it strengthens his credibility for Democrats, liberals, progressives, and Trump-haters who otherwise would not give any defenders the time of day.  If he were rah rah Trump, they’d dismiss anything he had to say the way they poo poo FOX News.

From what I have gathered thus far, if accurate, I think Haspel will not return us back to the days of EITs. CIA was reluctant before; and after all the political brouhaha and almost being thrown under the bus after being assured what we were asking them to do would be legal, I doubt she will want to relive that and put the nation through the trauma and the drama again. I also think her views may be more in line with that of Mike Morell and Michael Hayden who are able to defend certain aspects of the CIA program while criticizing and opposing Trump’s cartoonish, Jack Bauer posturing and misguided beliefs regarding how interrogations and the CIA operates (Trump believes the same distorted narrative as the critics; only he loves it while they hate it).

Haspel probably undestands that not only are we in a different place in 2018 than we were in the early years following 9/11, but we’ve also seen legislative changes that make bringing back such things as waterboarding problematic. The 2005 DTA, the 2006 MCA, Rumsfeld v Hamdan, the 2016 NDAA (which didn’t actually ban any of the EITs- just restricts all agencies to abide by the techniques approved of in the current Army FM), for instance.

While over a hundred former military generals and admirals have come out against Haspel’s nomination, over 50 former intelligence officers and national security leaders have come out with a letter of support:

The Cipher Brief has obtained a copy of the letter, which was endorsed by eight former CIA directors or acting directors, three former directors of national intelligence, two former secretaries of state and numerous other well-known former officials.

In the letter, the officials say that Haspel’s “qualifications to become CIA Director match or exceed those of most candidates put forward in the Agency’s 70-year history.” They say she “has the integrity, experience and determination” needed to lead the CIA as it faces a world of threats


A former senior intelligence official, speaking anonymously to discuss why the letter was drafted, said the officials were concerned that media coverage focused on Haspel’s role in the now-illegal detention program, rather than on the full range of her career.

Among those signing the letter were officials who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Former CIA Directors John Brennan, Leon Panetta, Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet, and William Webster were among those signing. Other prominent names on the letter include former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former Democratic Senator and Medal of Honor recipient Bob Kerrey, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, and retired Admiral Bill McRaven, the former head of the U.S. Special Operations Command and is best known for being in command of the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.


Former CIA Director Michael Hayden: “Gina Haspel is precisely the kind of truth teller you want in the room when important decisions are being made.” (quote to CIA, 14 March 2018)

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “I think the world of Gina; she is capable, smart, very experienced, well respected by the Agency rank and file, and a great person.” (Haspel Nominated to Lead CIA, Pompeo to Replace Tillerson, The Cipher Brief, 13 March 2018)

Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: “I’m glad that they have a first woman as head of CIA and I’m glad that it’s Gina because frankly she is someone who really knows the CIA inside out.” — “She was a good officer. She served the CIA well…I’m glad that they have a first woman as head of CIA and I’m glad that it’s Gina because frankly she is someone who really knows the CIA inside out.” (CNN Interview, 14 March 2018)

Former Director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service John Bennett: “She is one of the most accomplished officers of her generation.” — “Obviously I am not an objective observer since Ms. Haspel served as my last deputy when I was director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service and succeeded me as Acting Director. That said, she is one of the most accomplished officers of her generation, having held a series of major field commands and headquarters positions…She has taken on some of the most demanding and least rewarding assignments in the War on Terror, not because she sought them out, but because she felt it was her duty during the time of greatest anxiety and uncertainty for the American people in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. She has a proven track record in multiple assignments of being able to work productively with key foreign partners as well as the FBI. She is extremely smart, strong and unfailingly honest. She is totally committed to the CIA’s mission.” (Haspel Nominated to Lead CIA, Pompeo to Replace Tillerson, The Cipher Brief, 13 March 2018)

Ambassador Henry Crumpton: “She is a natural leader. She has extraordinary self-awareness, knowing her strengths and weaknesses.” (Gina Haspel, the undercover spy picked to head the CIA, Financial Times, 16 March 2018)

“Fair” and “Objective”

Former CIA Director John Brennan: “She will be able to provide that unvarnished, apolitical, objective intelligence input to Donald Trump and to others.” — “Gina is an exceptionally well-respected professional within CIA. She has held a number of senior-level positions over the years and has [comported] herself very competently, and I think she has the experience—the breadth and depth—on intelligence issues in dealing with these meddlesome foreign policy issues for many, many years so that she will be able to provide that unvarnished, apolitical, objective intelligence input to Donald Trump and to others. (MSNBC Interview, 13 March 2018)

Former CIA Deputy Director and Twice Acting CIA Director Michael Morell: “She is highly capable, she has deep integrity, and she has the best interests of the country, the Agency, and the men and women who serve it at heart.” — “I applaud the President’s nomination of Ms. Haspel to be the Director of CIA. I am certain she will serve the President, the Agency, and the country with distinction. I worked with Ms. Haspel for well over a decade, often on a daily and hourly basis. She is highly capable, she has deep integrity, and she has the best interests of the country, the Agency, and the men and women who serve it at heart. She is widely respected both across CIA and from top to bottom, and she will be welcomed in the new job by both current and former employees. Ms. Haspel’s service as a career operations officer will serve the Agency well in what is its toughest challenge — stealing the secrets that our adversaries are trying to keep from us and that the President needs to know to protect the country.” (quote to CIA, 14 March 2018)

Former CIA Deputy Director and former White House Deputy National Security Advisor Avril Haines: “Gina Haspel is intelligent, compassionate, and fair.” — “Gina Haspel is intelligent, compassionate, and fair. Moreover, Gina has an unparalleled understanding of the institution, the Agency’s work, and she will support the workforce — all attributes the Agency needs from its Director.” (quote to CIA, 14 March 2018)

Former Assistant Director for Collection at CIA Charles Allen: “In a highly threatening world, she fully understands the crucial need to bring objective, all-source intelligence to the President and his Administration—independent of policy.” — “As a CIA officer who served 47 years at the Agency, I welcome the President’s decision to nominate Gina Haspel to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Gina is a consummate intelligence professional who deeply understands CIA’s extraordinary global capabilities, and the vital role it plays in helping keep the country safe. Resilient and trustworthy, she played a central role after 9/11 in helping to protect the nation fight back during one of the most challenging chapters in our nation’s history. In a highly threatening world, she fully understands the crucial need to bring objective, all-source intelligence to the President and his Administration—independent of policy.” (quote to CIA, 14 March 2018)

Former CIA station chief Daniel Hoffman: “She’s the kind of person who will listen in and want to hear what everyone will have to say.” — “She’s the kind of person who will listen in and want to hear what everyone will have to say… She’ll be a great consigliere on Russia.” (Gina Haspel, the undercover spy picked to head the CIA, Financial Times, 16 March 2018)

“Committed to the Rule of Law”

Former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Mike Rogers: “Her commitment to the mission and rule of law are unparalleled” — “I can say without hesitation that Gina Haspel is an exceptional leader and committed to the mission to keep America safe. She has demonstrated the grit and savvy needed in difficult situations that have earned her the respect of colleagues and adversaries alike. She will make an excellent Director of the CIA. Her commitment to the mission and rule of law are unparalleled.” (quote to CIA, 14 March 2018)

Former CIA Acting General Counsel and Senior Deputy General Counsel Robert Eatinger: “As a lawyer, Gina was great to work with.” — “If confirmed, Gina will be a great CIA director. She is a very experienced and thoughtful operations officer who has held a series of leadership posts…That strength in leadership, especially when learned in the ‘school of hard knocks,’ is today often undervalued by those seeking only the satisfaction of retribution…The senators are entitled to the information they need to vote for or against her confirmation. I hope they use their opportunity to learn what sort of leadership, insight, caution and judgment the Gina Haspel of 2018 would bring to the position of DCIA. If they do, I think they would find their interests in effective intelligence within the laws and values of the United States will be best furthered and protected with a CIA headed by Gina.” (Haspel Nominated to Lead CIA, Pompeo to Replace Tillerson, The Cipher Brief, 13 March 2018)

Partner at Arnold & Porter and former Counselor to the Attorney General Amy Jeffress: “She is thoughtful, conscientious and committed to the rule of law” — “I worked closely with Gina during my government service. She is thoughtful, conscientious and committed to the rule of law. She is very well respected within the Agency and is an excellent choice for Director” (quote to CIA, 13 March 2018)

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey: “Anyone concerned with protecting this nation’s security should welcome her nomination” — “Gina Haspel is superbly well qualified to head the CIA, not only by experience in directing the Agency’s operations but also by the well-earned esteem she has throughout the intelligence community. Anyone concerned with protecting this nation’s security should welcome her nomination.” (quote to CIA, 14 March 2018)


“She’s very capable, very bright, very personable, very good leader, all kinds of superlatives there,”

“My sense is an understanding that she is going to explain in her opening statement she gets it that this is now illegal and she would therefore never countenance it, and explain perhaps the context at the time,” he said.

Petraeus maintains that he does not support enhanced interrogation techniques and did not before they became illegal, but notes that “in the post 9/11 period, there was a sense of a ticking time bomb that people do need to remember.”

When asked if Haspel’s involvement in now illegal activities should bar her from top positions, including CIA director, Petraeus deferred.

“She’s going to have to explain what the context was. She’s going to have to explain what her actions were. She’ll have to explain why it was that she took certain actions, including the tapes that were destroyed later on,” he said.

The effectiveness of Haspel’s explanation, he said, will decide whether she sees an easy path to confirmation.

Robert Baer (former CIA Mid-East case officer and author):

“I supervised Gina Haspel when I worked at the Central Intelligence Agency. I found her to be smart, tough and effective. Foreign liaison services who have worked with her uniformly walked away impressed. Out of all of the chaos coming out of the White House these days, the one bit of promising news is the nomination of Haspel as the new CIA director….

…Confessing to a certain bias, I hope Haspel’s long tenure overseas will give the Trump administration an experienced, pragmatic view of the world it increasingly thinks it can do without.”

“Equally important, with all the rampant partisanship in Washington, D.C., Haspel’s political neutrality and fact-based intellect will, I hope, put a brake on President Trump’s worst impulses.”

“I do not know what Haspel truly thought or thinks about torture today, or even whether she, like me, believes it doesn’t work. She will be asked these questions when she testifies before Congress. But what her critics and Congress must accept is that the CIA operates under American law. “Enhanced interrogations” were not a rogue CIA program.

…What the far left and right can’t absorb is that the CIA follows political direction from the White House and the Hill. But more to the point concerning enhanced interrogation, the CIA takes its legal guidance from the courts, the Department of Justice and Congress. Like the police, an individual CIA officer does not get to decide what is legal and what isn’t, let alone come up with a personal interpretation of whether an interrogation violates the United Nations Convention against Torture or not.

…Haspel was not the architect of the CIA’s enhanced interrogations. This program was parachuted onto the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, made all the more ambiguous because it occurred in the panic of the opening days of the “war on terror.” Agreed, Haspel could have resigned and found an avenue of protest. But it seems to me that the real protesting should have been done in the halls of Congress and the Department of Justice. In any event, her experience in intelligence and ability to moderate the president’s worst instincts outweigh these failures.”

John Sipher, a former CIA veteran:

“I can say for certain that Gina will not allow the agency to again be involved in similar programs. She knows well that agency officers are left out to dry, while those who pushed for and supported the programs ran for the hills”

When the CIA was approached and asked to start up a detention and interrogation program shortly after 9/11, they were hesitant.  There was no infrastructure for it at the time.  Mistakes were made in those early days of CIA detentions and interrogations until the CIA contracted creation of an interrogation program to James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.  The CIA had lawyered up and only proceeded forward after they were convinced that their people had the proper legal protections in place; and the government had their backs.

Michael Hayden:

Hayden said that given the history and the “sense of betrayal that permeates the agency” on the issue of black sites and enhanced interrogation, “it is hard for me to imagine any director asking his officers to go back to that place.”

“Agency officers acting in good faith, with the full support of the executive branch and congressional leadership, opened black sites and conducted interrogations using enhanced techniques for several years with life-saving results,” Hayden wrote. “Their reward (in addition to a safer America) was investigations, grand juries, legal expenses, and public condemnation by some members of Congress. Given the sense of betrayal that permeates the Agency, it is hard for me to imagine any director asking his officers to go back to that place.”

James Mitchell:

As someone who was thrown under the bus by the Obama Justice Department, I believe it is unreasonable to expect CIA officers to put their lives at risk to protect a government that will not do its best to protect them in return. Overemphasize political correctness, and we will be standing on the moral high ground, looking down into a smoking hole that used to be several city blocks.


Jose Rodriguez:

In his book, Rodriguez recalls an unsettling prediction: “At least two of our people at the black site told me that KSM made an observation that would later prove eerily accurate. Talking about his interrogation and that of his colleagues, he said: “You know, some day your government is going to turn on you.”



The only former CIA officer I know of that isn’t on board the Haspel train and that some in the media are citing is the disgraced Kiriakou.  He’s libeled Haspel as “Bloody Gina“.  I have his book, “The Reluctant Spy”, and there are several things that make me question a number of claims he’s made and continues to make.

Maseena Ziegler at Forbes writes:

to hold Gina Haspel to account for the program, and to reject her nomination because it would appear to be a direct endorsement of torture and a repudiation of the agency’s history of enhanced interrogations, would relegate one of the finest public servants to the sidelines of an agency that deserves the best possible leadership right now.

Haspel has given 33 years of service to the country. As an undercover operations officer for the CIA in Africa, Europe, and Eurasia, she tracked terrorists, developed assets, and delivered intelligence back to CIA Headquarters. She would acquire information using classic trade craft such as “brush passes, dead drops, or in meetings in dusty back allies of third world capitals.” Years before 9/11 happened, she was fighting terrorism. In 1998, after a US embassy bombing in Africa, she helped bring two targets to justice. Then after a long period abroad, she reported for duty in her new role at the agency’s Counter Terrorist Center in Langley, VA. The date, in a twist of fate, turned out to be September 11, 2001.

When the planes hit the twin towers, she knew instinctively who was behind it: Osama Bin Laden. So when employees were told to evacuate from the building, she didn’t follow orders—she remained at her desk. Her mission was to stop further terrorist attacks and find the man responsible.

“Gina does not seek the spotlight. She’s been thrust into this because she’s so good. She has a low-key personality. She does things effectively and smartly. She’s not the person who self-promotes.”

Justin Jackson, former deputy director of the National Clandestine Service (now Directorate of Operations) says Haspel will bring to the role a rare combination of deep operational expertise and political savvy. “She understands operational risks, the complexities of relationships with foreign liaison services, the issues involved with working effectively with other members of the intelligence community, and the unique culture, values, and thought process of working men and women of the CIA.”

This operational mindset becomes useful when dealing with Russia, for example. Haspel may be one of very few who can go toe-to-toe with the man who combines the strategic mind of a former KGB chief, with the impish inclinations of an officer to confound his opponents. She’s fluent in Russian and served significant periods in the Soviet Union as an undercover operational officer.

Jackson, who was the highest-ranking African American at the CIA, served under five presidents and 10 CIA directors, says Haspel’s experience with policymakers is unparalleled. “She acquired political savvy through her many senior assignments at headquarters and in the foreign field. As a leader in an Executive Branch agency she has personal relationships with other agency heads who make up the National Security Council. She knows how to work with Congress as she is used to participating in hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill. She also understands the legal limitations and works closely with CIA’s office of General Counsel to make sure agency actions are consistent with U.S. laws.”

Haspel doesn’t fall apart in a crisis. She is much respected and liked by foreign allies, and across the board at the CIA, according to people who worked with her.

“One thing with Gina which is particularly amazing is that she is not just a top notch officer, but it is very hard to find an enemy of hers inside the Intelligence Community. Even former DCI and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates had people criticizing him during his confirmation hearing. But attacks on her are non-existent from inside the Intelligence Community,” adds Jack Devine, a legend at the CIA who served from the 60s to the 90s and who retired with the title of Acting Director of Operations.

I’m told there is widespread agreement on Haspel’s qualification for the role across the aisle, behind closed doors, but this cuts no ice with Senate Democrats who seem determined to make a point on principle based entirely on one small period in her career. Supporters of Haspel urge lawmakers to weight that period against all her accomplishments.

According to Devine, “When 9/11 came, she went to where the action was. This is a key trait of the best CIA officers. Many officers prefer to stand on the sidelines. When you go into the covert action arena you face heightened career and physical risks.”

In Haspel’s case, perhaps her involvement in the interrogation program served as a crucible in her journey towards a more authentic, ethical leadership.

“It matures your judgment. When you see the downside of covert action you become seasoned. The more you do it, the more you learn and the more balance you get.”

But Devine believes that Haspel’s role in the program has been “hugely blown out of proportion, out of context, out of time, out of role. You need to take the totality of the person in context and appreciate their career growth.”

One of the falsehoods that has been peddled out there is the charge that she was involved in a cover up by destroying evidence (92 video tapes).  The decision to destroy those tapes, which the CIA was under no obligation to make (they recorded sessions so as to transcribe accurate details in transcripts cabled back to headquarters; and an inspector general had reviewed the videos and transcripts and deemed the latter to be thorough).

Jose Rodriguez made that unilateral decision; and he had the legal and moral authority to do so.  It’s why John Durham and Eric Holder, after a 4-year investigation, decided not to pursue a criminal prosecution.  I believe all Mike Morell (acting CIA Director at the time) ended up doing was giving Rodriguez a slap on the wrist with a letter of reprimand (which Rodriguez proudly framed).  Moreover,

“She drafted the cable on the direct orders of Mr. Rodriguez; she did not release that cable. It was not her decision to destroy the tapes; it was Mr. Rodriguez’s.”- Mike Morell

Jeremy Bash:

“In 2007, I was serving as the Democrats’ chief counsel to the House Intelligence Committee, and as such was assigned to investigate the destruction of videotapes by the CIA documenting the interrogation of two suspected Al Qaeda operatives. We looked at Haspel’s role in that decision. She was serving as chief of staff to CIA Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez when the tapes were destroyed in 2005. What we found was that Haspel was not depicted on the videotapes and that she did not make the decision to destroy the videotapes. At the request of Rodriguez, she drafted a brief cable directing CIA officers in the field to destroy the videotapes. Rodriguez sent the cable to the field; Haspel believed Rodriguez had the legal authority to do so.

But importantly, Haspel believed that Rodriguez was going to seek the CIA director’s permission to send the cable. While Rodriguez had the legal authority, and while I believe his intentions were honorable — he wanted to protect the identities of agency personnel who were depicted on the interrogation tapes — the decision belonged to then-CIA Director Porter Goss.

The investigation by the Intelligence Committee was soon overtaken by a criminal investigation by George W. Bush’s administration. The Justice Department assigned a respected assistant U.S. attorney, John Durham, to lead it.

Later, under President Barack Obama, the Durham investigation expanded to review whether any CIA officers had committed crimes as part of the agency’s program of rendition, detention and interrogation. Durham concluded his tapes investigation in 2010, finding that no laws had been broken. In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder concluded the broader investigation and found that no CIA official should be prosecuted. This was the right decision.”


John Brennan:


Leo Panetta


James Clapper

Oliver North who says he’s been waterboarded and waterboarded up to 150 servicemen as a SERE instructor:


Will Rand Paul do the right thing and confirm Haspel?

If Paul maintains his opposition and McCain is absent, at least one Democrat must support her for her confirmation to pass.

There’s enough offered up already about Haspel to make both sides of the political aisle enthusiastic about her; or livid.  I believe she is the right fit.

Trump is wrong on the issue of torture, waterboarding, and CIA interrogations.  Essentially, he shares the same misperception about it as the critics- a Jack Bauer myth and caricature of how CIA interrogations had operated.  The difference between him and the torture alarmists being is that he’s all gung ho for it and they’re hysterically against.  The critics cheered when General Mattis stated,

“‘Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I’ll do better.’”

Brilliant point by James Mitchell:

“When General Mattis said he could get more out of a detainee with a beer and cigarettes…the beer would violate the Torture Conventions; because you’re not allowed- under the Torture Conventions- to give a mind-altering substance to someone you’re going to question. He could give him the beer, right; but he’d have to wait until he was sober to question him. Because giving him the beer would not be legal.”

Aren’t alcohol and smoking supposed to be haram for Muslims? Yet many do it. I wonder how many jihadis smoke and drink; and how many abstain as serious, devoted, religious nutjobs.

Another side note:  Zubaydah is said to have lost all respect for Ali Soufan when the sainted anti-torture FBI interrogator and go-to media darling expert (who, incidentally, has recently been accused of torture, himself) tried to bribe Zubaydah with something like a Snickers bar (according to Jose Rodriguez) or Pepsi and something else I forget (according to James Mitchell).  Zubaydah felt insulted that Soufan thought he would give up Allah for a Snickers bar.  It was Soufan and his partner’s attempt to turn Zubaydah into a double agent and one other incident that James Mitchell claims caused Zubaydah to shutdown and disengage.  (Along with the account that Zubaydah began to clam up once he recovered his strength from his injuries).

Apparently it was a myth that at the time, Mattis had changed Trump’s mind on “torture” or torture.  Be as it may, regardless of what Trump may believe today or how Haspel may influence his beliefs about it tomorrow, CIA won’t be getting back into the interrogation business anytime soon.

Let us hope that this is indeed a good thing.

One last thing:  The crazy, worn-out talking point that every torture critic makes (as if you’ve never heard this one before) regarding “people will tell you anything or whatever you want to hear when tortured to make it stop”; or “torture doesn’t work”.  First off, torture has sometimes worked.  It’s just morally repulsive (is it any more moral to allow 3,000 innocent lives perish if you could have prevented it by giving CIA swim lessons to one or three high value terrorists?) and unreliable in the manner in which torture techniques are traditionally applied.  CIA EITs operated differently.

James Mitchell on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques:

Partial transcript:

James Mitchell: “First and best option was always social influence techniques.”

Steve Hirsch: :What does that mean?”

Mitchell: “Social influence techniques are the kinds of things that anyone who was good at interacting with other people, like for example, a psychologist, might get a patient to tell them things they were uncomfortable talking about; to make it easy for them to do it by creating the right emotional tone; by shaping the person’s responsiveness during the session; by taking advantage of the emotions that the person is displaying; and couching what you’re asking them to do so that they get to act on those emotions by developing themes and contagious ideas that are based on their world views. And so EITs when they were used by me- by Dr. Jessen, were really used for only a brief period of time to get people engaged so that we could use these social influence techniques.

Hirsch: “You make that point in your book and it’s an important one. People don’t understand that, right?”

Mitchell: “People have the misunderstanding that EITs was supposed to work the same way that they imagine torture works; which is basically you hurt the person until they tell you what you want to know. And then you continue to hurt them to see if they change their story; and if they do, then they were lying to you. Because we knew that under certain circumstances, particularly if you’re asking lead in questions and the person is tired and you’re telegraphing the kind of answers that you’re looking for, people can and will make up stuff. And that’s of no value- no intelligence value at all. So what we needed was little bits of truth that could be fed into the larger matrix so that we can go out and capture people.

Hirsch: “To be clear, your view of the role of EITs- do you call them torture or not?”

Mitchell: “The EITs weren’t torture at the time; and I don’t believe they are torture now.”

Hirsch: “So to your mind, just to be clear, the role of EITs was as a prelude?”

Mitchell: “Well…’prelude’ is the wrong word. Here’s the problem you have with, um….uh…senior terrorists you don’t have with modern criminals: You know the chief priority of a western criminal is to stay out of jail. And once you catch them in the big lie and it’s obvious that they’re going to go to jail, their next chief priority is to negotiate the best sentence they can get; so that they’re not spending time in jail. Well, the chief priority of a senior terrorist like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed- the man behind 9/11- is to hold out long enough that the next attack can occur. And so he doesn’t even engage, for the most part; he’s really kind of snotty and confrontational. When they’re like that, they’re not even engaged in the questions- and so what we did with the EITs for him, specifically, was we used them and we used them in a very specific way; we did it in a way where we tried to end the session so that he was in a more positive mood than he was before. We always try and ask a bridging question between sessions. We always started a session with that bridging question. And we always ended a session with a bridging question. And then after the session was over we’d go back in and have a very non-confrontational conversation with the person regardless of how rough the session was.”

Hirsch: “You were pretty horrified by abu Ghraib when you saw the photos, right?”

Mitchell: “Dr. Jessen and I were both mortified because that’s the kind of crap that can shuts programs down.”

Also keep in mind that EITs were used on only 33-38 HVDs out of around 119 in CIA custody.  SITs were sufficient for 2/3rds of them.  Aside from the Jihadi mindset of martyrdom (different from the common criminal, as Mitchell pointed out in the above interview), the other reason why SITs were ineffective on some of these terrorists was because a number of them had received interrogation resistance training at terror camps and knew how to defeat common interrogation methods, like the ones favored by law enforcement (for obtaining confessions for the purpose of pursuing criminal prosecutions- CIA’s mission was gathering actionable intell in a timely manner) and those found in the Army FM (which can be found freely across the internet).

Looking forward to Haspel’s confirmation today.





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I wonder if Democrats ever think about why their positions are almost always the same as those of our most bitter enemies?

That nice man with the broom how about him for the job!

Also important to note that NO one in Congress (or very, very few) had a problem with the interrogations. As noted in the statements some, like Warner himself, wanted them to be tougher and Feinstein and Pelosi were being fully briefed. Only when it became politically profitable did liberals begin to have “moral qualms”. See, they only like to violate the rights of political foes, not national security threats.

Ms Haspel is not someone I know much about, but she’s very good at biting her tongue.
Put yourself in her place.
Sen Kamala Harris wanted a “yes, or no” answer to whether she thought the enhanced interrogation (legal) was moral or not.
(Pro-late term abortion) Kamala has the annual Folsom Pride parade in her old district.
During that parade perverts inflate their genitals and walk around naked among children!
When she uses the term, “moral,” you have to wonder what she could possibly mean by it.

@Nanny G: I am almost certain the left pulls this hypocritical BS for the sheer pleasure of enraging people who actually think.

John McCain calls on Senate to reject CIA nominee Gina Haspel

Sen. John McCain called on the Senate to reject Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the director of the CIA, citing her refusal in testimony on Wednesday to acknowledge “torture’s immorality.”

“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement Wednesday evening.

“However, 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,” his statement continued.

At this point in his life and career, I think we can safely assume that’s his honest opinion, devoid of any political ulterior motives.

Haspel, in her testimony:

“I’m not going to sit here with the benefit of hindsight and judge the very good people who made hard decisions who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances at the time,” Haspel said.

That’s part of the problem. Many people would have made the morally correct call, relying upon nothing more than their bedrock principles and a bit of foresight. Like many people, she doesn’t seem to get that the program ran afoul of our nation’s fundamental values.

She could have acknowledged that error without passing judgement on anyone, but she failed to do so; she doesn’t actually believe there was an error.


At this point in his life and career, I think we can safely assume that’s his honest opinion, devoid of any political ulterior motives.

At this point we can declare McCain, like liberals, simply opposes anything Trump does. He’s shown this with his vote to maintain Obamacare.

The left likes to talk about “morals” while they support an organization that cultivates and harvests human baby parts, putting grown men in restrooms with little girls, exploiting illegal immigrants for votes and keeping minorities in poverty and dependency for political support. A very IMMORAL thing would have been to have not taken every possible effort to prevent further attacks after 9/11. Many of the Democrats now claiming the “moral high ground” fully supported the enhanced interrogation… and more… after 9/11. That’s not morality; that’s hypocrisy.

All the Democrats are trying to do is get her to denounce the CIA. They want her to denounce something now they all supported then.

McCain recognizes Donald Trump for what he is, which is more than can be said for the Red Hat crowd. So do half of the elected republicans who fell in line behind him after he hijacked the GOP. McCain recognized Palin for what she is. He has a right to more bitterness than he has ever publicly demonstrated. But then he’s always been more of a patriot and statesman than either one of them, even when he’s been wrong.

@Greg: McCain was a patriot, but a very poor statesman. He was supposed to represent the people and he failed. As a pilot, he was responsible for sinking a US Ship and the death of over 100 us military lives due to his being a hot shot instead of doing is job as he was supposed to be doing. His military career was saved by his father. When McCain was wrong, he was really wrong and it negatively impacted this country.


So do half of the elected republicans who fell in line behind him after he hijacked the GOP.

The GOP doesn’t work like the DNC, where a small cadre of elitist, far left liberals decide who the candidate will be, then screw all the voters and other candidates. The PEOPLE chose the GOP candidate against the wishes of the establishment Republicans, who fought it tooth and nail. However, they yielded to the will of the people, which is how our system of government is supposed to work.

Not like the vision of Hillary, Wasserman-Schultz or Brazille.

@Randy: The left only sticks up for McCain when he bashes Republicans. Other than that, they despise him like they despise everyone else who doesn’t tow their line. Remember when he ran against Obama? They portrayed him as a white, racist warmonger and made fun of his disability that hindered his being able to type. They can shove their phony sympathy for him up their fourth point of contact. Unfortunately for McCain, a big part of his “legacy” will be that he either allowed himself to be played for a useful dupe by the left or that he relished their “approval”.

@another vet: Well, a useful idiot is a useful idiot, even if he used to be a Republican. I have a lot of respect for his service, but I think he has cracked.