In what critics are calling a bald attempt to help Trump’s controversial pick to lead the CIA get through a very difficult confirmation process, the CIA on Friday released a previously classifed memo in which Gina Haspel was “cleared” of any wrongdoing when she destroyed more than 90 videotapes of agency operatives torturing human beings.
According to the Associated Press, which first reported the story, the CIA on Friday “gave lawmakers a declassified memo Friday showing [Haspel] was cleared years ago of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes showing terror suspects being waterboarded after 9/11.”
“It’s completely unacceptable for the CIA to declassify only material that’s favorable to Gina Haspel while at the same time stonewalling our efforts to declassify all documents related her involvement in the torture program.” —Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)Written by then-acting deputy director of the CIA Mike Morrell, the eight-page memo, as the Washington Post reports, “does not weigh in on questions about Haspel’s involvement in the use of brutal interrogation methods at a black-site facility she supervised in Thailand. The memo does suggest, however, that there was general CIA support for the destruction of the tapes at the time Haspel drafted the 2005 memo, as officials were still heavily influenced by the experience of fallout from the 2004 scandal involving the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.”
Sen. Diane Feinstein, Democrat of California and member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, responded by saying that the CIA’s memo should be seen for what it is: an attempt by the agency to release information that makes Haspel look good while continuing to block the release of information that might serve to incriminate her or hurt her chances for confirmation.
“It’s completely unacceptable for the CIA to declassify only material that’s favorable to Gina Haspel while at the same time stonewalling our efforts to declassify all documents related her involvement in the torture program,” Feinstein stated.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) indicated the memo will do nothing to lessen his concerns and actually raises new ones.
“Unfortunately, the Morell report is highly incomplete, raising far more questions about Ms. Haspel than it answers,” Wyden said in a statement. “My concerns about Ms. Haspel are far broader than this episode or anything else that has appeared in the press.”
Staff attorneys for the ACLU—which for years has been fighting for the CIA, the White House, and Congress to come clean about the government’s torture program—said the agency’s memo on Haspel is the very least of what should be disclosed:
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