“These cables confirm the findings of the Senate Intel report, and show why the release of a nominee’s FULL record before confirmation is absolutely necessary. We shouldn’t rely on restricted & incomplete records to evaluate nominees – whether to the Cabinet or the Supreme Court.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein — Twitter (August 10 2018)
“11 cables withheld during Haspel’s confirmation to be CIA Director reveal the brutal and ineffective torture she oversaw.”
Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) — Twitter (August 10 2018)
“Torture remains an unconscionable act ordered by immoral cowards and carried out by the timid whose wicked souls seek the thrill of power wielded over the defenseless. Torture drains the honor of a nation. Torturers stain the soul of a nation.”
Steven Kleinman — Former Intelligence Officer
August 11 2018 — Newly released cables obtained by the National Security Archive detail torture techniques the CIA used to interrogate Qaeda captives at a secret prison in Thailand. These cables were written by the current CIA Director Gina Haspel who oversaw these interrogations while she was the chief of Station in Thailand.
UPDATE October 18, 2018 – The National Security Archive’s Freedom of Information lawsuit against the CIA has won release of the previously censored dates and times on cables sent by future CIA director Gina Haspel when she commanded a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where interrogators tortured and waterboarded an al-Qaeda suspect, according to the new documents posted on the Archive’s Web site today. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
UPDATE (October 18 2018) — The new versions of the Haspel cables now provide a detailed chronology of the CIA torture, which began on “Day One” of the suspect’s confinement at the site, November 15, 2002, and continued even after his removal to a different black site, in Poland, on December 4, 2002.
The CIA had previously redacted the dates and times along with large portions of the texts when the Archive won release of the cables in August 2018. The CIA claimed that these details would reveal still-sensitive sources and methods of intelligence gathering that were exempt from the FOIA.
But Archive staff, working through pro bono counsel Peter Karanjia and Lisa Zycherman at Davis Wright Tremaine, demonstrated to the CIA and the U.S. Attorney’s office that precisely such dates and times had been released in other FOIA cases with no damage to national security, thus casting serious doubt on the CIA’s indiscriminate use of the “(b)(1), (b)(3)CIA Act, (b)(3)NatSecAct” claim to turn major portions of the released cables into Swiss cheese.
One of the newly released portions documents Haspel’s own intelligence failure in believing the al-Qaeda suspect had imminent attack information (what defenders of torture call the “ticking time bomb” rationalization). Cable 11258 sent on November 16, 2002 admitted that the second torture session “produced little actionable threat information” but “left base officers guardedly optimistic that the aggressive procedures may already be having an impact on subject’s resistance posture.”
Haspel wrote, “Although base has little doubt that subject is withholding actionable information, the shock of his first hours at [black site] appears to have focused him on our interests and on the severity of his predicament.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee report declassified in 2014 documents that the suspect in fact did not have imminent threat information, and had already confessed any useful intelligence during his prior captivity in Dubai.
“The Freedom of Information Act gives leverage to citizens to hold their spies accountable at least to the judgment of history,” said Archive director Tom Blanton, who identified the Haspel cables in an obscure footnote to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, and filed a FOIA for them after Haspel was nominated by President Trump to be CIA director. Read the documents
END of UPDATE
On April 16, 2018, the National Security Archive filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against the CIA in federal district court in Washington.
The case was seeking 12 specific cables from November and December 2002 that were authored or authorized by Gina Haspel, the then acting director of the CIA. The cables describe the torture of a CIA detainee under her supervision.
Despite the clear public interest in the documents, the CIA denied the Archive’s request for expedited processing. The Archive went to court on April 27 and won the FOIA lawsuit this week.
“The Haspel cables detail conditions the public has only seen in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs from Iraq of detainees hooded and shackled, forced nudity, wall slamming, and box confinement, as well as “enhanced techniques” never photographed such as the simulated drowning of suspects on the waterboard.
Waterboarding is a war crime under both U.S. and international law, dating back to U.S. prosecution of Japanese solders for torturing U.S. POWs during World War II.”
One cable — #11359 dated December 1, 2002 — uses remarkably vivid language to describe the torture sessions:
“The interrogators strode, catlike, into the well-lit confines of the cell at 0902 hrs [redacted], deftly removed the subject’s black hood with a swipe, paused, and in a deep, measured voice said that subject – having ‘calmed down’ after his (staged) run-in with his hulking, heavily muscled guards the previous day – should reveal what subject had done to vex his guards to the point of rage.”
According to the National Security Archive researchers, the biggest mystery in the released cables is whether Gina Haspel wrote ‘Cable 11359’.
On May 2 2018, I published Gina Haspel Career Timeline which was at the time, a perhaps still is, the most detailed biography in the public domain. Two entries will help answer the NSA mystery.
After graduating from high school in England, Gina Haspel returned home to attend the University of Kentucky, where she studied languages and majored in journalism.
2002 — Between October and December 2002, Haspel was assigned to oversee a secret CIA prison in Thailand, code-named Cat’s Eye, that housed persons suspected of involvement in Al-Qaeda. The prison was part of the U.S. government’s extraordinary rendition program after the September 11 attacks, and used enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding that are considered by many to be torture. According to a former senior CIA official, Haspel arrived as Station Chief after the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, but was chief during the waterboarding of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
According to this timeline, Haspel was indeed the Chief of Station at the Thailand CIA ‘black site’ in December 2002. And the person who wrote that cable appears to have a journalism background. It is almost certain that Haspel wrote that cable herself.
“She Tortured Just for the Sake of Torture”: CIA Whistleblower on Trump’s New CIA Pick Gina Haspel
Former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou personally knew CIA director nominee Gina Haspel when he worked at the CIA. But their careers have taken very different paths over the past decade.
Haspel, who was directly involved in torture at a secret CIA prison in Thailand, has been promoted to head the agency. Kiriakou, who blew the whistle on the torture program, ended up being jailed for 23 months.
For more, we speak with John Kiriakou, who spent 14 years at the CIA as an analyst and case officer.
CIA & Torture — Gina Haspel Thailand Cables Declassified
CIA & Torture — Gina Haspel Thailand Cables Declassified (UPDATE: Detailed Chronology Released)