Statement from September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows Concerning the Nomination of Gina Haspel as Director of the CIA

Torture is immoral and illegal. No one who played an operational role in torture, oversaw a “black site” where torture was committed, or destroyed evidence of torture rather than promote transparency and accountability should hold the office of Director of the CIA. That is why September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows opposes Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee for CIA Director, and urges all U.S. Senators to vote NO.  

As 9-11 family members, we know all too well the cost our nation now pays for having violated our prohibition against torture. It is the central reason that there has not been, and may never be, justice for the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, their families, and America’s citizens.

After six years of Military Commission hearings at Guantanamo Bay, there is still no trial date for the five men alleged to have planned the 9-11 attacks. Why? Because these five defendants were tortured. Details of cruel and degrading treatment at CIA black sites remain classified for reasons of national security, which has led to years of legal arguments. There is now serious question as to whether evidence gathered in later interrogations by FBI “clean teams” will be admissible in court. The 9-11 hearings could be on a collision course for a mistrial, an outcome no one wants.

There were good reasons the U.S. ratified the 1984 Convention against Torture and encouraged other nations to do so. By universally condemning cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, we ensure that our military personnel and citizens do not suffer torture.

We must ask, if the practices that Gina Haspel allegedly supported and protected were carried out on an American soldier, would they be described as torture?  Further, we know torture does not work. Declassified portions of the Senate ‘Torture Report’ show that interrogations conducted without torture produced actionable information, while torture often led victims to fabricate information or to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear.

Gina Haspel is alleged to have had an operational role in the torture of one al-Qaeda suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, while at a CIA black site. Such practices have caused irreparable harm to our international standing and to the integrity of the Rule of Law in our nation.

It is time to once and for all put this tragic and immoral chapter of our national history to rest. All U.S. elected officials, indeed all American citizens, need to answer for the torture carried out in our name. Gina Haspel must answer today as well. Ms. Haspel’s role in government gave her the opportunity to project a beacon of American jurisprudence. She chose a shadowy path instead, one that must not lead to the position of Director of the CIA.

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