Gina Haspel, US President Donald Trump’s nominee to become the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, has been described as “Bloody Gina” by former CIA colleagues for her reputation as the first person chosen to run a black site where the agency could torture alleged al-Qaeda militants.
While many news outlets have called Haspel a “seasoned intelligence professional” with 30 years of experience at the CIA across the world, “many of the rest of us called her ‘Bloody Gina,’ and we kept our distance,” John Kiriakou wrote in a February 2017 report for Reader Supported News.
Before becoming a co-host of Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear program, Kiriakou spent 15 years in the CIA and was chief of counterterrorism operations in Pakistan after the 9/11 terror attacks.
According to Kiriakou, Haspel was the “handpicked warden of the first secret prison the CIA created to handle al-Qaeda detainees,” who oversaw experimentation with so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and “videotaped the torture of Abu Zubaydah” in 2002 before destroying the tapes against the specific request of White House counsel in 2005.
In other words, Haspel obstructed justice and destroyed evidence, which are felonies. “This is a woman who has shown she is willing to break the law,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “That is the most disturbing thing about the nomination.”
Senate Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced opposition to Haspel’s nomination, as her past renders her “unsuitable” to run the agency. “Ms. Haspel’s background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director,” Wyden said Tuesday. “If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of US intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.”
At the black site she ran in Thailand, Haspel personally oversaw Zubaydah’s treatment, which included 83 waterboarding sessions. It turned out Zubaydah was not even a member of al-Qaeda, as the CIA had believed, and despite no useful information resulting from the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Haspel continued the practice anyway, according to the 2014 Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture.
”It’s grotesque that she’s being elevated to lead the CIA,” Jeremy Varon, a professor at the New School in New York, told Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear Tuesday. Haspel should “be in jail for having violated domestic and international laws prohibiting torture,” Varon noted.
The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), an NGO based in Berlin, called for German prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for Haspel in June 2017 for her involvement with the Thailand black site. “We think she should stand trial to defend herself against the allegations that she was involved in torture and she shouldn’t be appointed to any position,” the head of the ECCHR’s crime division told Al-Jazeera Tuesday.