00:43 GMT26 January 2021
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    CIA Director Gina Haspel is facing a new wave of criticism over the excessively colorful description of enhanced interrogation techniques under her supervision at a Thailand black site in 2002, which prompted WikiLeaks to ask whether the current CIA chief "has a sexual response to torture."

    New CIA documents, declassified at the request of the National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institution, and released on August 10, have shown the agency's director Gina Haspel in a new light.

    "HVTI and linguist… strode, catlike, into the well-lit confines of the cell at 0902 hrs… 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," one of the cables reads describing the interrogation process of a detainee named Abd Al-Rahim Husayn Muhammad 'Abdu Nashir.

    Make no mistake, this excessively colorful language that would be more appropriate for a spy novel or the "Shades of Gray" series describes "potentially criminal behavior by CIA employees," the non-profit organization remarked.

    "50 Shades of CIA: Does CIA Director Gina Haspel have a sexual response to torture? Haspel leading suspect in erotic torture reports cabled to Washington DC," WikiLeaks tweeted on August 13.

    ​However, according to the National Security Archive, it remains unclear whether Haspel was still the chief of the Thailand base on December 1, 2002, when the aforementioned cable was written.

    "Current CIA director Gina Haspel described graphic acts of deliberate physical torture including the waterboarding of a suspected al-Qaeda terrorist under her supervision when she was chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002," the institution wrote in a preamble to the newly-declassified CIA cables.

    According to the foundation, most of the documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, were written or authorized by Haspel and evoke strong memories of the scandalous sexual abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in the early 2000s.

    Haspel's appointment as the first-ever female CIA director on May 17, 2018 prompted a wave of criticism due to her controversial attitude toward torture. During the confirmation hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel refused to directly answer the question "Do you believe that the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?"

    "Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying," Senator John McCain said in an official statement on May 10; he and Senator Rand Paul voiced their opposition to Haspel's nomination.

    On May 17, The Intercept revealed that Sondra Crosby, a US Navy reserve doctor who had done medical evaluation of a high-profile prisoner, Abdal Rahim al-Nashiri, subjected to the so-called enhanced interrogation under Haspel's supervision urged Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner to oppose her confirmation as CIA chief.

    "[Al-Nashiri] is irreversibly damaged by torture that was unusually cruel and designed to break him" and "presents as one of the most severely traumatized individuals I have ever seen," Crosby wrote in a private email to Warner obtained by The Intercept.

    The CIA has a long record of controversial torture practices adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. In December 2014, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report shedding light on the agency's interrogation techniques which turned out to be more brutal that the CIA had ever portrayed. The 6,700-page report championed by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein was the result of a six-year inquiry. After fierce debates a heavily-redacted 500-page edition was published. Feinstein has repeatedly called upon the Trump administration to make the whole document public.


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    black sites, CIA torture, WikiLeaks, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Gina Haspel, John McCain, US, Thailand
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