Archive for the ‘CIA’ Category

Gina Haspel Behind CIA Water Torture, Evidence Destruction

March 15, 2018

Gina Haspel Behind CIA Water Torture, Evidence Destruction

President Donald Trump has nominated CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to be the next CIA Director, replacing Mike Pompeo. Ms. Haspel would be the first woman to head the intelligence agency, but her Senate confirmation is in doubt. Gina Haspel was involved in the CIA torture program at the “Cat’s Eye” secret prison in Thailand in 2002, and authorized the destruction of recordings of the brutal interrogations in a 2005 cover-up.

While those activities put her in good stead in the Bush-era CIA, and Mr. Trump believes “torture works” even though the facts say otherwise, Ms. Haspel’s confirmation hearings will be contentious. In the Senate, Republican John McCain (R-AZ), who was subjected to torture while a Vietnam POW, has some tough questions for Gina Haspel, and Rand Paul (R-TN) will not vote for  a nominee who “took joyful glee at someone who is being tortured.” So far, Ron Wyden, (D-OR) a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is the first Democratic Senator to flatly oppose the Haspel nomination because of the nominee’s involvement in the now-outlawed “enhanced interrogation techniques.” If the nomination moves forward, expect strenuous interrogation in the Senate.

Gina Haspel’s CIA torture program included several “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but we expect President Trump to repeat his claim that waterboarding isn’t torture. Look it up. Waterboarding is considered torture by the U.S. Army Field Manualinternational law, and U.N. Treaty. Many authorities believe waterboarding is forbidden under Title 18 of the U.S. legal code.


“Gina Haspel, Trump’s CIA director pick, oversaw the torture of dozens of people,” Alex Ward, Vox

“The CIA’s new nominee director Gina Haspel once ran a torture site and destroyed evidence,” Max de Haldevang, Quartz

“Haspel, poised to become first female CIA chief, ran controversial ‘black site’ prison,” Critiano Lima, Politico

“Gina Haspel, Trump’s Pick for CIA Director, Ran a Black Site for Torture,” Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

“‘She Should Be in Jail’—Rights Groups Rally to Stop Torture Overseer Turned Trump CIA Pick Gina Haspel,” Spencer Ackerman, Daily Beast

Washington Breaks Out the ‘Just Following Orders’ Nazi Defense for CIA Director-Designate Gina Haspel,” Jon Schwarz, The Intercept


“Trump’s CIA Pick Took Part in Silencing Torture Suspect,”  Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

“German NGO seeks arrest warrant for Donald Trump’s deputy CIA director,” Deutsche Welle


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Pentagon Won’t Punish ‘Pillow-Talk’ Petraeus

February 4, 2016

Pentagon Won’t Punish 'Pillow-Talk' Petraeus
David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director after revelations he’d shared classified information with his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, won’t be punished any further by the Pentagon, reported the Washington Post. General Petraeus pleaded guilty to a single count of unauthorized use of classified material last year in a …, um, “sweetheart deal.” Now he won’t even be demoted and will continue to receive a four-star general’s retirement benefits, including a pension of nearly $220,000 a year.


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Psychology Association: Okay, We’ll Stop Helping Torturers

August 8, 2015

Psychology Association: Okay, We'll Stop Helping Torturers

“The American Psychological Association voted Friday in favor of a resolution that would bar its members from participating in national security interrogations.

The resolution by the country’s largest professional organization of psychologists passed overwhelmingly. The only dissenting vote came from Col. Larry James, a former Army intelligence psychologist at Guantanamo.”

— “Psychology Group Votes To Ban Members From Taking Part In Interrogations,” Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News

“The association’s ethics director, Stephen Behnke, coordinated the group’s public policy statements on interrogations with a top military psychologist … and then received a Pentagon contract to help train interrogators while he was working at the association, without the knowledge of the association’s board. Mr. Behnke did not respond to a request for comment.”

— “Outside Psychologists Shielded U.S. Torture Program, Report Finds,” James Risen, New York Times


“Larry James,” Center for Torture Accountability

“US torture report: psychologists should no longer aid military, group says,” Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian


Petraeus: Probation for Pillow Talk Leaks

April 27, 2015

Petraeus: Probation for Pillow Talk Leaks

Former CIA Director David Petraeus was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $100,000 for leaking military secrets to his mistress/biographer Paula Broadwell. General Petraeus could have been sentenced to a year in prison; the fine is less than the fee he gets for a single speech.

That’ll teach him.


“Petraeus receives no jail time for leaking. Whistleblowers face decades in jail.” Trevor Timm, BoingBoing

“7 whistleblowers facing more jail time than Gen. Petraeus,” Ben Branstetter, DailyDot

“Gen. David Petraeus: From hero to zero,” Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post


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Top image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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Petraeus Pillow Talk Plea

March 3, 2015

Petraeus Pillow Talk Plea

David Petraeus, who resigned as CIA director after 2012 revelations that he’d shared classified information with Paula Broadwell, his mistress and biographer, will plead guilty to a single count of unauthorized use of classified material, and faces up to a year in jail. Perhaps General P. can continue to advise the White House on Middle East policy from prison, since that’s a pretty secure location.


CIA: Whitehouse-Sanctioned Torture

December 10, 2014

CIA: Whitehouse-Sanctioned Torture

“5 questions about the CIA detention and interrogation report you wish you didn’t have to ask,” Adam Goldman, Washington Post

“Senate report on CIA torture claims spy agency lied about ‘ineffective’ program,” Spencer Ackerman, Dominic Rushe, and Julian Borger, The Guardian

“10 appalling findings in the Senate’s torture report,” Luke Brin, Salon

“16 absolutely outrageous abuses detailed in the CIA torture report,” Dylan Matthews, Vox

“The Most Gruesome Moments in the CIA ‘Torture Report,'” Shane Harris, Daily Beast


General Petraeus: ‘I’ve Got a Secret’

November 9, 2012

General Petraeus: 'I've Got a Secret'

David Petraeus, retired four-star general and married man of 37 years, stepped down as CIA Director on Friday, admitting to an unwise extramarital affair. President Obama accepted his resignation.

Upon learning that a government official committed adultery, the American people had two questions. The first: “So what?” Expect plenty of questions from Republican congressmen, though, particularly those who’ve been caught in bed with women not their wives.

 Everyone has a second question ….


A Child’s Garden of Drones

June 7, 2012

A Child's Garden of Drones

“I can feel it in the air tonight, oh Lord” — Phil Collins

“Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Drones,” Cora Currier, Pro Publica

Almost 1 in 3 U.S. Warplanes is a Robot,” Spencer Ackerman and Noah Schachtman, Wired Danger Room

“Rise of the drone: From Calif. garage to multibillion-dollar defense industry,” Peter Finn, Washington Post


Who’s to Blame for Destroying CIA Tapes?

November 10, 2010

Who's to Blame for Destroying CIA Tapes

A few years ago, U.S. agents tortured people and videotaped these “enhanced interrogations.” They also made people disappear at “black sites” around the world. When investigators started poking around, the recordings disappeared, too.

 Why destroy the tapes? Despite assurances from the Department of Justice and the White House, waterboarding and similar practices are torture, against federal, military, and international law. The cover-up shows the interrogators knew this.


Cheney’s Secret Spy Program

July 12, 2009

Cheney's Secret Spy Program

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

— “Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project,” Scott Shane, New York Times (more here)

Details of the CIA program remain secret; what has leaked is information about the former Vice President’s role in concealing the activities from Congressional intelligence oversight committees. This comes a day after inspector generals of five intelligence agencies reported that Mr. Cheney’s office restricted knowledge about a warrantless eavesdropping program of questionable legality, and the excessive restrictions diminished any usefulness the data might have had.