US Senators Blast CIA Blackout of Director Nominee ‘Bloody Gina’ Haspel’s Career

The CIA will allow the US Senate to review some classified information pertaining to Gina Haspel, the current deputy director of the agency and the Trump administration’s nominee for its next director, following blowback from Democrats over a lack of information about her professional past.

The CIA informed lawmakers on Tuesday that the agency is "actively working towards sharing additional information with the public to the greatest extent possible."

On Wednesday, three Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — still weren't satisfied by the CIA's response and issued a scathing joint statement

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"We find the CIA's response to requests for information about Gina Haspel to be wholly inadequate. Ms. Haspel is not an undercover operative, she's the deputy CIA director seeking a cabinet-level position," the statement said. "It's unacceptable for the CIA to hide her behind a wall of secrecy, particularly when such secrecy is unnecessary to protect national security."

"Concealing her background when no sources and methods are at stake shows nothing but contempt for the Senate and the public," the lawmakers said.

"[The CIA] remains committed to transparency with the full Senate by providing a complete picture of Deputy Director Haspel's 33-year career at CIA, to include her time working in the Counterterrorism Center, to help Senators fulfill their constitutional responsibility of providing advice [sic] and consent on her nomination," the agency said in their letter. "This transparency is especially critical in light of her serving undercover for the bulk of her career." 

This March 21, 2017, photo provided by the CIA, shows CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel - Sputnik International
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Haspel's confirmation process is extraordinary for US politics. While former CIA directors have served in clandestine roles, they've also been experienced in public office, while Haspel spent 32 of her 33 years with the agency entirely undercover.

In late 2002, Haslep took over the operation of Cat's Eye, a CIA extraordinary rendition blacksite in Thailand under the agency's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) Program, and it is known that under her watch a suspect was waterboarded three times. Haspel later oversaw the destruction of videotapes documenting torture undertaken there before and after she arrived, including that of Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times and is currently held in Guantanamo Bay.

According to a 2014 report led by Sen. Feinstein, Zubaydah was left by the torture "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth." It was originally believed Haspel also oversaw the torture of Zubaydah, however that information has been retracted by the newspaper that published it.

"Although a large amount of information about the former RDI Program has already been publicly acknowledged, CIA still protects information regarding CIA personnel involved in the RDI Program as well as information about the operation and location of any overseas detention facilities," the agency said in its letter to the senators. "This includes the name of any country in which the detention facility was located."

The CIA's letter came in response to an April 13 joint letter from the same three senators. They reminded the agency that it was the "fifth time" they had asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to declassify information related to Haspel. "To date, we have received no responses to letters written by one or more of us," the letter said. 

This photo reviewed by the US military and made during an escorted visit shows a US naval medic explaining the feeding chair procedures at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, April 9, 2014. - Sputnik International
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"In the absence of any meaningful declassification of her career, this public campaign on behalf of Ms. Haspel does a great disservice to the American people, who expect and deserve to understand the backgrounds of their government's leaders," the Democrats lamented in the mid-April letter. "Indeed, the more we review the classified facts, the more disturbed we are, both by the actions she has taken during her career and by the CIA's failure to allow the public the opportunity to consider them."

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