The New York Times has finally acknowledged Gina Haspel’s direct involvement in the Central Intelligence Agency’s policy of torture and abuse. On June 4, 2022, an article provided details of Haspel’s role as chief of the CIA base twenty years ago that was known for conducting the most sadistic acts of torture and abuse. At her confirmation hearings to become CIA director in 2018, Haspel refused to answer any direct questions about her role in the policy of torture and abuse, which included the waterboarding of a Saudi prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The CIA stopped me from writing about Haspel’s role in my 2018 memoir, “Whistleblower at the CIA.”
As a result of CIA’s censorship, I joined a lawsuit with four former federal employees to end the government’s suppression of our writings on national security issues. Last month, the Supreme Court allowed to stand a court ruling that denied our case, which had been presented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union. The government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide secrets, but the CIA’s review system is opaque, exceeding legitimate security boundaries, and compromising free speech. The Haspel case exposes the dangers of government censorship; the failures of the Senate’s confirmation process; and the CIA’s ability to avoid accountability for its transgressions.
At the closing of Haspel’s hearing, the chairman of the intelligence committee, Richard Burr (R/NC), told her that “you have acted morally, ethically and legally over a distinguished 30-year career.” Surely the members of the committee knew of Haspel’s role in torture and abuse. This would be particularly true for the senior Democrat on the committee, Diane Feinstein, who led the committee’s investigation of the CIA program.