U.S. President Donald Trump named Gina Haspel, who has been accused of running a torture “black site” for suspected terrorists, as the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent “war on terror” launched by then-President George W. Bush, Haspel was a key figure in helping launch a network of secretly operated “black sites.”
Haspel allegedly ran a secret prison called “Cat’s Eye” in Thailand where suspected terrorists belonging to al-Qaida were subject to controversial torture techniques such as waterboarding.
The 60-year-old has worked as an intelligence officer for the majority of her career and was believed to be present in the torture of at least two suspected al-Qaida members – Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri – according to an investigation by the U.S. Senate.
According to declassified CIA cables released in January, Zubaydah was subjected 83 times to the waterboarding torture technique, sleep deprivation and had his head struck into walls.
According to information from U.S. officials leaked to the media, Haspel was also responsible for carrying out the destruction of video footage in 2005 which showed suspects being tortured.
Trump has controversially said that torture works as a means of gaining intelligence, saying that, “We have to fight fire with fire.” When asked about his stance on torture in a press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May last week, Trump said that he would leave the decision up to Defense Secretary James Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
A draft executive order requesting a review into reopening foreign CIA prisons and revisiting interrogation methods not considered torture is being considered by the White House, but it remains unclear if it will be signed.