By Aaron Kesel
Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern who used to brief Ronald Reagan was thrown out of Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing to become the second CIA director under U.S. president Donald Trump, replacing Mike Pompeo, Vice News reported.
Former CIA officer Ray McGovern was just forcibly removed from a Senate hearing for protesting Trump’s CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. Haspel has been linked to the use of torture at CIA black sites. pic.twitter.com/osTQgQ6Sd0
— VICE News (@vicenews) May 9, 2018
It all started when Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), asked Haspel about the morality of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (TORTURE) and how she would react if one of her own CIA officers were tortured by terrorists. Would she consider a CIA officer being waterboarded by “terrorists” to be immoral?
“Sorry to interrupt here,” McGovern lambasted as he stood up in the audience. “Senator Wyden, you deserve a direct answer.” Although, Wyden wasn’t the Senator questioning Haspel at the time.
At that point, Sen. Richard Burr, who was appointed as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, ordered Capitol Police to escort McGovern out of the hearing, while threatening that everyone would be removed if there were any more interruptions.
McGovern yelled and demanded that Haspel answer questions about the waterboarding of terror suspects at a CIA “black site” in Thailand.
In a video uploaded to social media, McGovern is seen being escorted out of the hearing and police can be heard telling the former CIA officer to “stop resisting.”
— Katie Bo Williams (@KatieBoWill) May 9, 2018
Due to the hectic situation, it was unclear exactly what McGovern said to Haspel.
McGovern recently wrote an opinion piece headlined, “Will a Torturer Become CIA Director?” ahead of the nomination hearing, claiming that the torture is not only immoral but fails to give the correct intelligence.
The Department of Justice sought to block the deposition of Haspel as a nominee for deputy director of the CIA last year when President Trump and the former CIA director Mike Pompeo appointed her.
Gina Haspel, a career CIA officer, was selected by Trump and appointed as deputy director by the agency’s head, Mike Pompeo, on February 2nd. That same day last year it was revealed that Haspel, during the post-9/11 Bush era, ran one of the CIA’s black sites in Thailand where prisoners were waterboarded.
To give you a little refresher, Derrick Broze reporting for Activist Post wrote last year:
In October 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, former U.S. military psychologists who created the CIA’s torture program. The lawsuit accuses Jessen and Mitchell of operating a “joint criminal enterprise” and seeks compensatory damages of at least $75,000. The ACLU is representing Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ben Soud, two survivors of the CIA torture program, and Gul Rahman, who died as a result of his torture. The plaintiffs are suing Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute — which allows federal lawsuits for gross human rights violations — for their commission of torture; cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment; non-consensual human experimentation; and war crimes.
James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen served in the U.S. military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape program (SERE), teaching U.S. troops how to resist and survive torture in the event of capture by foreign nations. SERE was supposed to help troops understand torture techniques while Jessen and Mitchell supervised their mental state. After 9/11, the psychologists were tasked with designing and developing the CIA’s detention, rendition, and interrogation operations. Using their knowledge of how to resist torture, the two reverse-engineered the SERE program to create a new program that would break detainees’ mental state in the hopes of creating loose-lipped zombies. According to the 2015 Senate report on CIA torture, “neither psychologist had experience as an interrogator, nor did either have specialized knowledge of al-Qa’ida, a background in terrorism, or any relevant regional, cultural, or linguistic expertise.”
It was also reported that, under orders, Haspel aided in the destruction of videotapes capturing the torture taking place at the black site. Jose Rodriguez, the CIA official who ordered CIA officers to destroy the cache of videotapes that had documented the treatment of two terror suspects, says he told Gina Haspel what he intended to do.
Rodriguez’s chief of staff, none other than Gina Haspel, has even directed at least one instance of waterboarding on a suspect herself according to Rodriguez who gave an account at Haspel’s confirmation hearing.
Former deputy CIA director Michael Morell, another harsh critic of the inquiry, has also written that Haspel did so “at the request of her direct supervisor and believing that it was lawful to do so. I personally led an accountability exercise that cleared Haspel of any wrongdoing in the case.”
According to an article by John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, Haspel was responsible for allowing some of the most brutal torture methods. Kiriakou also accuses Haspel of directly overseeing the staff in Thailand, including Mitchell and Jessen. Kiriakou himself served 23 months in prison after pleading guilty to blowing the whistle about Bush administration waterboarding and torture of detainees.
Last year, CIA officials testified how and why they authorized brutal torture methods in a series of historic court deposition videos that can be seen here. Derrick Broze highlighted one area of particular note that gives insight into who was behind the torture program and its subsequent attempted cover-up:
When questioned about why he ordered the videos destroyed, Rodriguez offers nothing but a sad excuse. “It would make the CIA look bad, and almost, in my view, destroy the clandestine service because of it.” No regard to morality or even law, but rather, acting from what will or will not make the State and its spy agencies look good.
Earlier this year, Senator Ron Wyden, expressed that Haspel had been in charge of the same black site where a man “was waterboarded 83 times; stuffed into a wooden box barely bigger than a coffin; and had his head slammed into walls.”
“If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from the past,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the intelligence committee who opposes her nomination, told The Daily Beast.
Haspel promised not to create another torture program, but she also wouldn’t condemn the torture that took place at a CIA black site under her watch in the years after 9/11. When McGovern spoke up, at least five Capitol Police officers quickly detained him, warned him to stop resisting, and threw him out of the hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. However, Haspel expressed in her hearing that torture doesn’t work and she wouldn’t restart the program.
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.
“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” Haspel, said. “I would absolutely not permit it.”
McGovern was there representing VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) who previously on March 25, 2018, sent President Trump a Memorandum urging him to withdraw Haspel’s nomination, citing a long list of cogent, compelling reasons to do so. The organization noted that they have had no response from the Trump administration or the president, Consortium News reported.
Further, more than 100 former U.S. ambassadors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents sent the Senate a letter opposing Haspel, saying that despite her credentials, confirming her would give authoritarian leaders around the world the license to say U.S. behavior is “no different from ours,” The Hill reported.