Readers React: Trump cannot be allowed to install someone who may have committed war crimes as CIA director

Gina Haspel is President Trump's pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
Gina Haspel is President Trump’s pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency.
(AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, California’s two Democratic U.S. senators, should support the rule of law by rejecting the nomination of President Trump’s pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, who presided over the torturing of detainees at a “black site” in Thailand and then destroyed videotape evidence of these acts. (“Gina Haspel’s appointment to run the CIA revives America’s dark history of torture,” editorial, March 15)

Haspel cannot hide behind the Nazi-era defense, “I was just following orders.” In the wake of the Nuremberg trials, the United Nations International Law Commission confirmed that “the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

The U.N. Convention Against Torture, in effect at the time of Haspel’s conduct, made clear that “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Feinstein and Harris should uphold U.S. and international law by voting against the nomination of a person who can credibly be accused of having committed war crimes.


Stephen F. Rohde, Los Angeles

The writer is a constitutional lawyer.

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