[News] U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor on Gina Haspel Torture Victim: “One of the Most Severely Traumatized Individuals I Have Ever Seen”

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 17 12:41:40 EDT 2018


  U.S. Navy Reserve Doctor on Gina Haspel Torture Victim: “One of the
  Most Severely Traumatized Individuals I Have Ever Seen”

Jeremy Scahill - May 17 2018

_An American doctor_ and Naval reserve officer who has done extensive 
medical evaluation of a high-profile prisoner who was tortured under the 
supervision of Gina Haspel privately urged Sen. Mark Warner, the vice 
chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to oppose Haspel’s 
confirmation as CIA director, according to an email obtained by The 

“I have evaluated Mr. Abdal Rahim al-Nashiri, as well as close to 20 
other men who were tortured as part of the CIA’s RDI [Rendition, 
Detention, and Interrogation] program. I am one of the only health 
professionals he has ever talked to about his torture, its effects, and 
his ongoing suffering,” Dr. Sondra Crosby, a professor of public health 
at Boston University, wrote to Warner’s legislative director on Monday. 
“He is irreversibly damaged by torture that was unusually cruel and 
designed to break him. In my over 20 years of experience treating 
torture victims from around the world, including Syria, Iraq, and the 
Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. al-Nashiri presents as one of the most 
severely traumatized individuals I have ever seen.”

Nashiri was snatched in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 and 
“rendered” to Afghanistan by the CIA and eventually taken to the Cat’s 
Eye prison in Thailand that was run by Haspel from October to December 
2002. He was suspected of involvement 
in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen. He is 
currently being held at Guantánamo Bay prison.

Despite Crosby’s pleas, Warner and five other Democratic senators have 
announced their support for Haspel. Warner backed Haspel after she sent 
him a carefully crafted letter designed to give the impression that she 
had changed her position on torture while simultaneously continuing to 
defend its efficacy. “While I won’t condemn those that made these hard 
calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program 
ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” 
Haspel wrote. “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a 
senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the 
CIA should have undertaken.”

Haspel stated that she “would refuse to undertake any proposed activity 
that was contrary to my moral and ethical values.” But Haspel has 
refused to renounce torture, her role in its use or to condemn the 
practice of waterboarding. In fact, under questioning from Sen. Kamala 
Harris during her confirmation hearing, Haspel explicitly refused to say 
that the “enhanced interrogation techniques” she oversaw at a secret CIA 
prison in Thailand were immoral. That fact renders her pledge to Warner 

“It took her 16 years and the eve of a vote on her confirmation to get 
even this modest statement, and again, she didn’t say she had any 
regrets other than it offended some people,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, 
D-Ore., a member of the Intelligence Committee.

/Listen to Jeremy Scahill’s interview with Sen. Wyden on the latest 
episode of Intercepted:/

“I urge Senator Warner to oppose Ms. Haspel, who did not have the 
courage or leadership to oppose the RDI program,” wrote Crosby. She 
stated that some of the techniques used against Nashiri are still 
classified. In her letter to Warner, Crosby stated that among the known 
acts of torture committed against Nashiri at the site that Haspel ran 
and other U.S. facilities included:

  * suffocated with water (waterboarding)
  * subjected to mock execution with a drill and gun while standing
    naked and hooded
  * anal rape through rectal feeding
  * threatened that his mother would be sexually assaulted
  * lifted off ground by arms while they were bound behind his back
    (after which a medical officer opined that shoulders might be

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell informed senators 
that he was fast-tracking the vote in an executive session. “If 
confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the 
table; the President be immediately notified of the Senate’s action, 
that no further motions be in order, and that any statements relating to 
the nomination be printed in the Record,” read an internal 
email obtained by The Intercept sent to Democratic staffers.

“Today we’re seeing what amounts to a secret confirmation,” Wyden said. 
He told Intercepted 
“I’m worried that if you have a proceeding like this, a nominee 
confirmed this way with zero meaningful declassification, this is not 
going to be the last secret confirmation. You will see other nominees 
coming up, and their record will be covered up as well.”

Wyden blasted the CIA and Haspel for refusing to grant the Senate full 
access to Haspel’s record and choosing instead to provide carefully 
declassified information intended to burnish Haspel’s image. “I want the 
American people to know that the agency is covering up her background. 
They’re covering it up because they’re trying to prevent what I think is 
the threshold issue of accountability … because if the American people 
knew what I know, I believe the Senate would have no choice but to 
reject her confirmation,” he said, pointing out that as acting director, 
Haspel is in charge of what the senators see and don’t see about her 
record. “She started with an enormous institutional advantage — I don’t 
know of a similar instance where the nominee gets to decide what is 
declassified about her and what isn’t.”

In a statement provided to The Intercept, Yasmine Taeb, senior policy 
counsel at the Center for Victims of Torture, said, “It’s outrageous 
that Republican leadership is fast tracking this vote. The Senate cannot 
fulfill its constitutional ‘advice and consent’ responsibilities when 
the Senate lacks meaningful access to all the documents relevant to this 
nomination, and when the public — whose job it is to hold their elected 
representatives accountable — remains largely in the dark.” Senators 
have also asked for more detailed information on Haspel’s role in the 
destruction of 92 video recordings of “enhanced interrogations” 
conducted in Thailand.

_In a May 7 briefing_ to Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, also 
obtained by The Intercept, Crosby asserted that during Nashiri’s torture 
“unauthorized techniques were always used with authorized techniques.” 
Crosby stated that she could not discuss these “unauthorized techniques” 
because they remain classified. She cited a public statement from one of 
the CIA contractors who developed the enhanced interrogation program, 
psychologist James Mitchell, who said he witnessed an interrogator 
“dousing Nashiri with cold water while using a stiff, bristled brush to 
scrub his ass and balls and then his mouth and then blowing cigar smoke 
in his face until he became nauseous.” She offered to brief senators 
with appropriate security clearances on other classified unauthorized 

“The bottom line on the Haspel nomination,” said Wyden, “is that the 
vast amount of information about her background could be declassified 
without compromising sources and methods, and that really does a 
disservice to the American people.”

Crosby told Senate staffers that the CIA’s “methodology consisted of 
strategic assaults — multiple traumas inflicted simultaneously, as well 
as consecutively, in a manner designed to instill terror and maximize 
harm in the prisoners.” The interrogation program, she stated, showed 
that “torture is not just a crime of physical violence, but a way of 
destroying someone’s humanity.” Crosby added: “It is important to note 
that the barbarity of the torture methods used were shrouded and 
concealed in sterile euphemisms.”

In the briefing, Crosby described the torture in graphic, albeit 
unclassified, terms:

    The terror of being kept naked in pitch-black, shackled to the
    ceiling while music blared, covered in urine and feces while insects
    crawled on their bodies, in dank cells that were freezing cold or
    unbearably hot. The horrific conditions in between interrogations
    were in some cases as bad as the interrogations. These torture
    methods were inflicted for hours and days, for weeks at a time, over
    the course of years. The men became disoriented with no sense of
    when the abuse would stop. Some of the men wished for death.

She concluded her briefing: “The devastating human cost to this torture 
program cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, this toll is largely hidden 
due to ongoing secrecy and control that the CIA exercises. This is what 
I can say due to security restrictions.”

Crosby, who is currently at the Guantánamo prison examining Nashiri, 
told The Intercept that she could not offer further details because they 
are classified and, for the same reason, cannot speak about Haspel’s 
specific role in Nashiri’s torture. However, a brief prepared by 
Crosby’s organization, Physicians for Human Rights, asserts:

    The CIA site in Thailand formed the blueprint
    for the rest of the CIA torture program. After her assignment there,
    Haspel continued to hold senior operational roles in the program,
    where presumably she would have been in a position to know about
    other abuses at other sites
    Moreover, she was an enthusiastic supporter
    of the program and worked to protect it from criticism. This
    included drafting a cable ordering the shredding of videotapes
    depicting torture sessions, despite a court order staying their
    destruction. This act of cover-up should have led to Haspel’s
    dismissal – and should most certainly disqualify her from the role
    of leading the CIA.

On Monday, The Intercept reported 
that a senior Warner adviser wrote an email to Democrats on the 
Intelligence Committee informing them that a classified memo compiled by 
the committee’s minority staff and aimed at examining Haspel’s full 
involvement with torture and destruction of evidence was removed from 
the Senate. It was supposed to be housed in a secure facility inside 
Congress, so senators and their staff could read it before voting on 
Haspel’s nomination.

That memo, according to Democratic sources, provided classified details 
on Haspel’s role in torture, the destruction of evidence, and her tenure 
more broadly. The memo was based in part on the investigation conducted 
by U.S. attorney and special prosecutor John Durham into CIA activities 
following the September 11 attacks. On the eve of the committee vote on 
her confirmation, that memo was moved out of the U.S. Congress and 
Warner’s office said senators needed to ask his office in order to 
arrange to see it. Democratic sources have told The Intercept that few 
senators have read the classified memo.

On Wednesday, 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to 
Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that he provide the “Durham 
report” to the committee, saying that it falls under its jurisdiction 
over “compliance with laws against torture, as well as potential 
violations of the Freedom of Information Act.”


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