President Donald Trump‘s pick to become the next CIA director, Gina Haspel, said Wednesday that she doesn’t believe torture works, despite Trump’s repeated statements otherwise.
Haspel made the admission during a question and answer period with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). Harris serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is charged with holding hearings for the president’s nominees for CIA director.
During the hearing, Harris first asked Haspel if she believes that torture is “immoral” in an exchange that became increasingly heated.
Haspel responded to Harris’ question: “I believe that CIA officers to whom you referred-”
“It’s a yes or no answer,” Harris interjected. “Do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral? I’m not asking do you believe they were legal. I’m asking do you believe they were immoral?”
“Senator, I believe that CIA did extraordinary work to prevent another attack on this country given the legal tools that we were authorized to use,” Haspel replied.
“Please answer yes or no. Do you believe in hindsight that those techniques were immoral?” Harris pressed.
“Senator, what I believe sitting here today is that I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to,” Haspel responded.
“Can you please answer the question?” Harris asked.
“Senator, I think I’ve answered the question,” Haspel asserted.
“No, you’ve not,” Harris shot back. “Do you believe the previous techniques, now armed with hindsight, do you believe they were immoral? Yes or no?”
“Senator, I believe that we should hold ourselves to the moral standard outlined in the Army field manual,” Haspel said.
Moments later, Harris noted the president’s previous assertions that torture works.
“Do you agree with that statement?” Harris then asked Haspel.
“Senator, I don’t believe that torture works,” Haspel replied. “I believe that in the CIA’s program – and I’m not attributing this to enhanced interrogation techniques – I believe as many people, directors who have sat in this chair before me, that valuable information was obtained from senior Al Qaeda operatives that allowed us to defend this country and prevent another attack.”
“Is that a yes?” Harris sought to clarify.
“No it’s not a yes,” Haspel reiterated. “We got valuable information from de-briefing of Al Qaeda detainees and I don’t think it’s knowable whether interrogation techniques played a role in that.”
Haspel’s assertion that torture does not work is the exact opposite of what Trump said during the campaign. Asked in February 2016 if he would approve of waterboarding, Trump said, “absolutely,” CBS News reported.
“I said I’ll approve it immediately…I said they’re chopping off our heads in the Middle East. They want to kill us. They want to kill us. They want to kill our country. They want to knock out our cities. And don’t tell me it doesn’t work. Torture works, OK folks? Believe me, it works,” Trump said.
[image via screengrab]
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