There’s a lot of buzz around Donald Trump’s pick for CIA Director, but not all of it is positive. Gina Haspel is potentially the first woman ever to hold the role, should the Senate confirm her appointment. But she’s also comes with a past many are calling into question — but now you can decide for yourself because one publisher is making the CIA Torture Report, which includes information on th programs with which Gina Haspel was involved, available for free.
Why are we talking about Gina Haspel?
Let us quickly catch you up: Tuesday morning, Trump dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by way of a tweet. The president, needing to back-fill this position, declared his intentions to have CIA Director Mike Pompeo fill the role, which means that the CIA top directorial position also needs backfilling. That’s where Gina Haspel comes in.
Trump tapped Haspel as his pick for the top spot. She’s currently the CIA Deputy Director and was the first woman to reach this high rank. But many are opposing the nomination because, well, she was deeply involved in a torture program.
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What do we know about Gina Haspel’s role in the torture program?
We know that Haspel oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects in a “black site,” a secret American overseas prison. (For the record, there are several black sites.) The kinds of torture Gina Haspel oversaw included waterboarding, confinement in small boxes and sleep deprivation, according to the New York Times.
The black sites, and the methods used in them, have been deemed "deeply flawed" by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Perhaps even worse, the same report labelled them "far more brutal" than they had been presented.
We want to be clear, though. These black sites, which are known for their "enhanced interrogation techniques," were authorized by the George W. Bush administration post-9/11, but were closed during the Obama administration. So we’re talking about Haspel’s history of conduct in the CIA, not any current or recent actions. Still, you can find her critics on both sides of the political aisle.
Haspel is directly connected with a black site in Thailand, where she was stationed in 2002. She oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects there, and the program had one suspect, Abu Zubaydah, waterboarded 83 times over the course of just one month. He had to be revived by doctors and ultimately lost sight in one eye.
Haspel’s been working with the CIA for over 30 years, some of which were spent in the National Clandestine Service, the “undercover arm” of the CIA. So there’s really only so much the public can know until more information is released. Luckily, there’s an easy way to brief yourself on Gina Haspel before the Senate votes on her confirmation. It's the CIA Torture Report — and one publisher is making an e-book version available for free.
How to get the CIA Torture Report
Melville House, an independent book publisher, took action in response to Gina Haspel’s nomination. On Wednesday, they made an e-book version of the CIA Torture Report that’s “fully searchable in digital format” available for free online through their website.
“What’s clear from the Torture Report,” wrote Melville House sales manager Peter Clark in an entry on the company’s blog, “is that Haspel helped develop, authorize, and oversee what became one of the worst and most inhumane programs in US government history. It tarnished the reputation of America and disgusted sensible people everywhere. It was evil and wrong. And it didn’t work.”
But you can decide for yourself thanks to Melville House. Download the CIA Torture Report here to read more about Gina Haspel and the black sites. The deal’s available until the end of the week, so get your free copy while you can.