CIA nominee says torture doesn’t work
President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee said Wednesday at her confirmation hearing that she doesn’t believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her “strong moral compass” would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.
Under questioning by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, acting CIA Director Gina Haspel said she would not permit the spy agency to restart the kind of harsh detention and interrogation program it ran at black sites after Sept. 11. It was one of the darkest chapters of the CIA’s history and tainted America’s image worldwide.
Senators asked how she would respond if Trump – who has said he supports harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse” – ordered her to do something she found morally objectionable.
“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” said Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency. “I would absolutely not permit it.”
When asked if she agrees with the president’s assertion that torture works, Haspel said: “I don’t believe that torture works.” She added that she doesn’t think Trump would ask the CIA to resume waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
She faces what will likely be a close confirmation vote in the full Senate. The CIA director position opened up after Mike Pompeo was named secretary of state. Haspel would be the first female CIA director.
Though she has deep experience, her nomination is contentious because she was chief of base of a covert detention site in Thailand where terror suspects were waterboarded.