Open thread for night owls. WSJ says CIA chief wouldn’t do anything ‘inappropriate,’ despite record


CIA Director Gina Haspel

Joshua Cho at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting writes—WSJ Says CIA Chief Wouldn’t Do Anything ‘Inappropriate’—Despite Record of Torture and Coverup:

A Wall Street Journal report (5/25/19) by Warren Strobel whitewashed CIA Director Gina Haspel’s career and put a positive spin on the CIA’s insulation from public accountability with its turn towards its greatest opacity “in decades.”

While one might expect CIA officials to support greater secrecy around the organization, it’s odd that ostensibly independent journalists—with a mission to hold official organizations accountable by informing the public—would treat less information coming from the agency as a positive development.

Yet that’s exactly what the Journal report did, depicting Haspel’s strategy of avoiding backlash from the Trump administration by not publicly contradicting its dubious claims as “protecting the agency” from “the domestic threat of a toxic US political culture.”

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“She and her agency have adopted their lowest public profile in decades,” Strobel writes—just before summing her up as a “CIA director who has been warmly received by the workforce she has spent her life among.”

In other words, for the Journal, a public intelligence agency sharing its intelligence with the public is a bad thing, unless it supports US foreign policy by agreeing with whatever the Trump administration is saying. This position is echoed in the piece by official sources, like former CIA official and staff director of the House Intelligence Committee Mark Lowenthal, who assures us, “It’s not going to be any good for her [Haspel] to be out there attracting lightning bolts.”

However, the most egregious part of Strobel’s report is its whitewashing of Haspel’s disturbing record in the CIA by uncritically transmitting glowing endorsements by other CIA officials:

Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said he is absolutely confident that Ms. Haspel will push back if policy makers ask the agency to do something it shouldn’t.

“I was told that somebody asked that the agency do something that was inappropriate. Her response was, ‘No. And don’t ask again,’ ” said Mr. Morell, who hosts the Intelligence Matters podcast. He said he did not have details of the incident.

Strange: That’s precisely the opposite of what Haspel did when she was asked to violate domestic and international law by torturing post-9/11 prisoners (euphemized by Strobel as “controversies” over “treatment of detainees”), and peddling lies about torture’s effectiveness (National  Security Archives, 4/26/18).

Nor did Haspel say “No. And don’t ask again,” when told to destroy videotape recordings of the CIA inflicting torture on its captives, which was condemned as “obstruction” by 9/11 Commission chairs Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean (Intercept, 3/13/18; New York Times, 1/2/08).

Haspel actually supervised Detention Site Green in Thailand, one of the US’s notorious “black sites” where suspects were sent to be tortured after being kidnapped and held in another country to evade legal accountability in the US (Washington Post, 11/2/05). Sondra Crossby, a US Navy Reserve doctor with extensive experience treating torture victims around the world, described one of Haspel’s prisoners as “one of the most traumatized individuals I have ever seen.” […]

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QUOTATION

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.” ~~Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)

TWEET OF THE DAY

BLAST FROM THE PAST

On this date at Daily Kos in 2017After rewriting ethics rules to allow it, Trump stocks his government with lobbyists:

If Trump and his fellow Republicans fill the swamp any deeper you’ll need to charter a boat to visit the Washington Monument.

Federal agencies issued just a handful of waivers exempting political appointees from conflict of interest rules in the first three months of the administration, a reflection in part of how President Trump has made it easier for lobbyists to work in agencies they once sought to influence.

Why don’t the 80-plus lobbyists who Trump has or is planning to put into government need waivers freeing them to do so despite federal ethical rules? Because Team Trump said they no longer need to, that’s why.

That’s because an executive order that Trump signed in January did away with a rule laid down by former president Barack Obama banning lobbyists from joining agencies they had lobbied in the previous two years.

The previous rule was that lobbyists couldn’t be made part of agencies that they had previously made cash money lobbying at. The new Trump rule is that lobbyists can now do exactly that, they just have to recuse themselves from any specific issue they had previously been paid to advocate for.





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