In 2002, the CIA captured a man in Afghanistan who had been working at a “terrorist training camp” that had originally been founded by — the CIA. They accused him of being a member of al Qaeda. He wasn’t, but he had lots of information about the organization, which he willingly supplied under ordinary questioning. But factions in the CIA were convinced he knew more. So they ordered him to be tortured, horrifically, relentlessly. The agent in charge of the torture mocked the victim for only “acting” like he was losing his mind as the torture went on. The agent’s office made plans on how to dispose of the body if the torture went too far.
When they finally accepted that the prisoner wasn’t lying — that he wasn’t al Qaeda, that he knew nothing of any terror plots, that he had been working with jihadi groups organized by the US during the Afghan-Soviet war — the agent in charge sought to destroy the evidence of his torture. Eventually, she and another CIA bigwig illegally destroyed all the tapes. This led to a Senate investigation — which the CIA tried to subvert by hacking the computers of Senate staffers.
That CIA torturer, mocker and destroyer of evidence has just been named Deputy Director of the CIA. Her name is Gina Haspel. The whole story is told, in damning detail, by ProPublica here.
At any time in the previous eight years, she could have and should have been prosecuted. But we were told by Obama that we shouldn’t prosecute CIA torturers and lawbreakers; we should “look forward, not backward.” Well, here we are, in the “forward” time, and what do we see? Lawbreaking torturers formally enthroned in the top ranks of the intelligence “community.” What horrors await us now, with an avid, mocking torturer at the center of power under a president who says he loves torture even if it “doesn’t work,” because “they deserve it anyway”?
I certainly don’t want to cast any aspersions on the beloved former president, who was so cool and rational and reasonable and moral and good and all, but I do think we might possibly have been better off had he actually faithfully executed the laws of the United States as he swore to do, and rooted out the torturers and lawbreakers who have now, like fetid scum, risen back to the top.