The CIA Black Sites Program and the Gina Haspel Nomination

Will the Hearings Fill in the Redacted Blanks in the Record?

by John Prados, Wendy Valdes, and Tom Blanton
May 9, 2018

Today’s nomination hearing for Gina Haspel to be CIA director provides an opportunity for the agency and Haspel to fill in the blanks on the CIA “black sites” and interrogation program.  The National Security Archive has already identified key questions about Haspel’s record [see box below]. Today, the Archive provides the basis for an evidence-based review of the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program, posting a selection of the most recent versions of declassified documents that reveal the RDI’s background.

Classification and redaction still cover key facts in the Gina Haspel torture story.

* Was she still the chief of base when the Green site closed on December 4, 2002?

* Did she supervise the November 27, 2002 waterboarding sessions of Nashiri?

* What was her specific role in perpetuating the false claim that Nashiri’s information had come from torture (what the CIA euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques”) rather than the Dubai interrogations?

* Did she ever ask any questions about the qualifications and motivations of the contract psychologists, Mitchell and Jessen, to whom the CIA outsourced the entire torture program to the tune of $81 million in contracts? (Apparently not, because they still had their sole source contracts when Ms. Haspel served as chief of staff to the head of the CIA National Clandestine Service in 2005.)

* Did she volunteer, or just accept assignment, to command the Green site starting in October 2002?

* Did she review the cable traffic from the Green site in August 2002 before she took command, in which CIA officers complained about the brutality of the torture of Zubaydah and raised questions about the legality? Was she aware of the complaints?

Read also:
Playing with Nuclear Fire and World War

* Did she ever object to the torture, or express any qualms?

* Did she ever review the CIA cables reporting on the torture sessions, compared to the CIA’s disseminated intelligence and the timing of information collected, to judge whether the claims of torture’s effectiveness were true or false – as the Senate Intelligence Committee did?

* What was her role in reducing the amount of information in cables from the black sites circa December 2002?