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Readers React: A torture victim says Gina Haspel is ‘ethically ineligible’ to be CIA director

Gina Haspel, President Trump's pick to lead the CIA, testifies at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

To the editor: As a victim of torture during Argentina’s “dirty war,” I join the voices of those who oppose any form of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and who, in that spirit, oppose Gina Haspel’s nomination by President Trump to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Her reluctance to acknowledge that her involvement in the use of waterboarding at a “black site” in Thailand in 2002 was immoral and her participation in the destruction of tapes that documented the use of torture make her ethically ineligible.

In our fight against terrorism, we should never forget our moral values and constitutional principles. With a president who has claimed that torture works and, furthermore, supported the use of other interrogation techniques worse than waterboarding, we need leaders in our intelligence agencies who can resist the pressures of a president who has very little in common with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and those founding fathers who valued human rights.

Haspel does not meet these standards.

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Nestor Fantini, Northridge

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To the editor: We need a “new broom” to lead the CIA, a person who will speak truth to power. So I agree with your opinion about not promoting Haspel.

Torture is illegal and immoral; it belongs on the lowest level of our morality as a nation.

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I also lend my voice to those sending their support to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who released a statement opposing Haspel’s confirmation. I greatly respect his life of service to our country. I don’t always agree with him, but I always believed in his integrity, honesty and boldness.

John R. Shiban, Westlake Village

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To the editor: One letter writer’s assertion that “it was not for the CIA and certainly not for Haspel to question the legality of the government’s directive” strikes me as morally empty as Adolf Eichmann’s assertion that he was merely upholding the rule of law in facilitating rail transfers to the death camps.

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Every individual entrusted with power over others holds the ability to think. This is Haspel’s key problem. She either refused — and continues to refuse — to grapple with her actions, or she actually agrees with them.

The United States is bound by the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions. Destroying videotapes to avoid accountability for potential wrongdoing is obstruction of justice. It strains credulity that an individual nominated to serve as CIA director would be ignorant of these facts.

Haspel’s past actions demonstrate she is unfit to serve.

Charles Kohorst, Glendora

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