USA must closely scrutinize CIA deputy director’s alleged torture links

Following the Trump administration’s appointment of Gina Haspel as Deputy Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

“Reports that Gina Haspel directed the alleged CIA ‘black site’ in Thailand, at a time when detainees held there were subjected to torture and enforced disappearance, as well as a possible role in the destruction of evidence of such crimes under international law, raise extremely serious concerns.

“This announcement comes on the heels of President Trump’s recent vocal support for torture, and means all indicators are flashing red.

“These allegations are serious and must be subject to close scrutiny. No one should be appointed to a position where they could interfere in the investigation of or facilitate the concealment crimes under international law.

“With all the Trump administration’s talk of ‘extreme vetting’, they must not fail to vet public officials for their ability to uphold the US constitution and international law.

“The Obama administration’s failure to conduct investigations into alleged torture, enforced disappearance and other crimes under international law committed in the CIA’s secret detention programme does not mean that those suspected of involvement in these crimes are in the clear. Rather, it now falls on the Trump administration to order independent and impartial investigations and hold those responsible to account, irrespective of rank or status.”

Background

Various reports indicate that Gina Haspel directed the alleged CIA “black site” in Thailand, where two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and ‘Abd al Nashiri, were held in 2002 and subjected to torture as well as to enforced disappearance – crimes under international law.

Videotapes were made of the men’s interrogations, including recordings of waterboarding, a torture technique which amounts to mock execution by interrupted drowning. These tapes were destroyed by the CIA in November 2005, in a move approved by José Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center and National Clandestine Service. Gina Haspel is reported to have also been involved in the destruction of the tapes.

Concealing evidence of a crime by state agents may constitute criminal complicity.

No one has been held accountable for the crimes under international law committed in the CIA detention programme.

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