Friday, March 16, 2018
Citing Gina Haspel’s Role in Destruction of Torture Videos, OTG Leads Joint Letter Calling on Senate to Halt Her Nomination
America Needs a CIA Director Trusted to Send People Undercover to find the Truth, Not Someone Who Covers Up Torture to Conceal the Truth
WASHINGTON – Open the Government led a coalition that signed a joint letter today calling on the Senate not to advance Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA Director until all records of her past involvement in a CIA torture program are declassified and released to the public. OTG is particularly concerned that Haspel participated in the destruction of video evidence of her role overseeing a clandestine detention site in Thailand that tortured detainees. The letter cited Haspel’s “concerted effort to escape embarrassment and legal consequences” by eliminating video proof of waterboarding, slamming detainees against walls, enforced sleeplessness, and confinement inside coffin-shaped boxes.
“America needs a CIA director trusted to send people undercover to find the truth, not someone who covers up video evidence of torture to conceal the truth,” said Open the Government Executive Director, Lisa Rosenberg. “A CIA Director’s broad powers make it imperative that the nominee is reputable, transparent, and fully accountable to the public. Gina Haspel unequivocally fails this test, at least until further records detailing her participation in the torture program come to light. Until that occurs, we call on Senators to hold her nomination.”
According to the letter:
In November 2005, amid increasing public outrage over revelations of torture at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility, the CIA destroyed 92 videotapes of interrogations at clandestine facilities elsewhere. While the CIA maintains that the decision to destroy the tapes was made by then-Director of the National Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez, Rodriguez says in his 2013 book that Haspel drafted the order herself. Former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo says Haspel and Rodriguez were the “staunchest advocates inside the building for destroying the tapes.”
“Gina Haspel does not appear to fully respect the rule of law, which is alarming for someone who is nominated to lead a spy agency,” added OTG’s Lisa Rosenberg. “Her actions appear to be a clear violation of the Federal Records Act, and she apparently thinks it’s acceptable to destroy evidence, even if doing so violates court orders.”
Open the Government is an inclusive, nonpartisan coalition that works to strengthen our democracy and empower the public by advancing policies that create a more open, accountable, and responsive government.