Torture Doesn’t Work, Unless You Want a Promotion


Torture now is firmly established within our government as a good career move or, at least, as not a deal-breaker for a life spent in government service. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, made that so on Tuesday, when he announced that he would be supporting the nomination of Gina Haspel to be the next director of the CIA. From Bloomberg:

How Warner, who last was seen calling Haspel’s fogbank of a committee hearing “unacceptable” in her lack of transparency, came to that conclusion now remains unclear. However, the fix was plainly in.

Haspel revised and extended her remarks before Congress. On Tuesday, she wrote a letter to Warner in which she said that the torture program never should have been authorized, an assertion far beyond anything she’d said to the Senate. At roughly the same time, as The Intercept reported, Warner’s office cut off access to a classified Democratic staff report said to include details regarding Haspel’s advocacy of the program and regarding Haspel’s destruction of videotape evidence of what was done to detainees. It’s hard to imagine the nomination’s failing now.

In her letter, Haspel admitted:

This, put simply, is a crock. In her testimony before the committee, Haspel justified the techniques by citing the evil of people like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and by mentioning that intelligence gained through the torture program had foiled a number of potential attacks. By this testimony, speaking in hindsight, Haspel clearly was saying that torture worked. And, let’s be honest, you shouldn’t need “the benefit of hindsight” anyway to conclude that torture is wrong.

The debate on Haspel’s nomination is bound to be spirited, but its conclusion is now pretty much a foregone conclusion. Torture does indeed work, at least if you’re looking for a promotion.