London – The appointment of a torture advocate and participant in the CIA rendition, interrogation and detention programme as the new director of the CIA will provide cover and impunity to a legacy of torture that still remains unaddressed.

It has been widely reported that Gina Haspel ran the USA’s overseas torture programmes in Thailand where suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abdur Rahim al-Nashiri, who are both mentioned in the now infamous Senate Committee report into torture, were waterboarded, deprived of sleep and confined in coffin-like boxes for extended periods.

The resurgence of the torture debate can be traced back to the failure of the Obama administration to adequately hold torturers to account for the roles they played, as detailed in the Senate Torture Report in 2014.  

Trump has set the bar even lower, giving carte blanche for despots and dictators to adopt torture as the “new normal” while encouraging its use again domestically.

Moazzam Begg, outreach director for CAGE, said:

“Donald Trump has already made clear to the world that he believes “torture works” and that medieval techniques like waterboarding are the very least he would authorise if he had his way. With the appointment of Gina Haspel, his belief in torture and impunity for taking part in war crimes is now a reality.”

“Haspel was also stationed in Britain for many years and worked closely with British intelligence services. At a time when the role of foreign agents involved in criminality on British soil is headline news, the extent of MI5’s knowledge of and potential complicity in Haspel’s role needs to be made clear to the British public.”

“The nomination of Haspel as head of the CIA must be challenged at every level otherwise torture will become the new norm. If she is chosen to head the CIA, the world must know how the way was paved for an architect of the global torture program, to lead the world’s most powerful intelligence service.”

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)