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[flagged] CIA new nominee director Gina Haspel ran a torture site and destroyed evidence (qz.com)
142 points by NicoJuicy 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 74 comments

The inevitable result of illegal activity going unpunished: normalization.

The Obama administration had eight years to do something about this and instead decided turn the other way. All we got was a mealy-mouthed admission that "we tortured some folks."

It's impressive that we've fallen so low that we're blaming the Obama administration for not fixing what the Bush administration did. I see it as normalization of the concept that you can't expect any rational action whatsoever from the GOP anymore.

Edit: Reading from comments, I should clarify. I totally agree with OP, I just find it incredibly sad.

And this is why we have fallen so far. Partisan blame is fine for the campaign trail, but as soon as the president takes office he becomes the adult and the responsibility for starting, continuing, or stopping activities falls on him and his administration.

Bush oversaw extra-legal interrogation methods. Obama oversaw a massive increase in extra-legal assassinations by drone. Low-minded citizens can get trapped in the game by getting angry about "the other party" and its actions, or they can recognize that administrations and congressmen in both parties blame the other side for cover while simultaneously building off its precedents to expand their own power.

Obama authorized 10x the number of drone strikes as Bush that killed over 391+ civilians while he was in office, and he did it on his own volition. Ultimately any president has to make hard life-altering decisions, so lets cut out the left vs. right nonsense.

Go ahead, read the article, don't let the facts hit you on the way out.


If the previous occupant kicks a hornets nest before you move in, that might force your hand in killing a lot more than the handful his foot managed.

I don't disagree with the fact, I disagree with the comparison.

Ah Bush made Obama kill all of those civilians. That is such a mind boggling, ridiculous excuse.

If we're to trust the IBC accounts, he killed less than half the civilians of Bush year on year, much thanks to the use of drones.

I don't condone any of it, but I think you're being disingenuous about how wars work if you're suggesting they can be waged without civilian deaths.

>Obama authorized 10x the number of drone strikes as Bush that killed over 391+ civilians

Perspective is in order here. "Credible estimates of Iraq War [alone] casualties range from 150,000 to 460,000" [0].

Obama inherited two wars (one illicit) and he settled on drone strikes in part to reduce the awful rate of civilian casualties. There is really no equivalence here and to suggest that there is actually introduces the bias that makes it about right vs. left.

I applaud your encouragement to focus on facts, but let's consider the complete set vs. those that support a particular world view.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War#T...

> let's consider the complete set vs. those that support a particular world view.

What a pompous response. You are not using a 'complete set [of facts]' either, you're just adding your own facts which support your particular worldview.

Let's not imply that anyone is working from perfect knowledge of the subject as a rhetorical attempt to signal authority. Both misleading and clearly incorrect.

>What a pompous response. You are not using a 'complete set [of facts]' either...

I've added facts to the original set that was offered. Those added facts broaden the context. If you have more facts to add that would further broaden the context, then you're free to add them as well, versus merely devising adjectives for others' responses.

Funny expression. One of my favorites is "The only thing Obama stopped was the war protests"

Obama is also I think one of very few presidents who explicitly targeted and killed American natural born citizen. Not accidentally, but actually targeted. Didn't even bother hiding it.

But I agree with the original point, GOP did start this mess on the lie of weapons of mass destruction.

Well you go back to 911 itself and the government involvement with Osama Bin Laden going back to the 1980s, go back to the CIA making my childhood incredibly dangerous by dumping incredible amounts of guns and drugs into cities such as Los Angeles. When do the American people get to tell the CIA "you're fired!"

Those were massive fups.

That is very different from listing the name of an American on a "kill list" and ordering a drone strike. Judge, jury and executioner.


Maybe I'm just playing devil's advocate, but is what Obama did significantly different from Union soldiers under Lincoln's orders during the Civil War? The form of warfare has changed dramatically, but wouldn't that be something of a parallel?

P.S. I don't want to sound like an apologist regarding Obama's actions here. My personal feelings are that he was largely better than Bush, but not without fault.

No it's not different. I just said that not many presidents have targeted and killed their own citizens. Lincoln was probably one of them. Perhaps one could argue Obama was in a civil war with Americans of the Muslim faith / extremists.

One could argue it was justified. I would personally feel horrible if it was justified that way. But, hey, it's not my country.

Every president has killed innocent people. Americans have been complicit in far worse, actually.

I don't understand this whole idea that we're 'normalizing' immoral actions. Never in our history have they not been normal.

Yeah. I'm so tired of this line of reasoning. "The torture happened during the Bush administration and she was put in charge of the CIA during the Trump administration, so obviously we'd better blame the black guy for this."

Yes, I too would have liked it if Obama did more on this. But I am not convinced that he did less than he politically could. As is apparently easy to forget, the US right was at his throat for years. A Republican Congressman went on TV to talk about how Obama threatened America's security by... wearing a tan suit. [1] The notion that they would have gotten behind a sustained investigation of the criminality of the Bush years strikes me as absurdly optimistic.

[1] http://www.chicagotribune.com/81220218-157.html

This shouldn't be a partisan issue. I'm talking about the disintegration of the rule of law.

The new Commander in Chief failed to hold those under his command accountable for their immoral, illegal acts that put our democracy at risk. In doing so, he set a precedent that will last for generations.

> we've fallen so low that we're blaming the Obama administration for not fixing what the Bush administration

At least nobody gave Bush a Nobel Peace Prize. Obama had filled people with hopes and dream and in 8 years did nothing. Just his last year in power he dropped over 20000 bombs in countries we were not even at war with. Speaking of torture, Guantanamo is still open, he could have closed that. In other words expectation were different for Obama so pointing out his failures is also expected vis-a-vis those expectations.

Obama did try to shut down Guantanamo. Congress passed a law preventing Obama from closing Guantanamo.

Shouldn't have promised it then.

Apri 2007:

"As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists."

There was nothing there about "if Congress lets me and activist judges don't impede my progress".

Obama did shut down Guantanamo to new detainees. Congress wouldn't let him close the facility. He spent the remainder of his term releasing prisoners, trying prisoners, and/or transferring them to other facilities, all pursuant to the UCMJ.

Unlike some presidents, Obama tried to follow the rule of law. He achieved 90% what he promised on Guantanamo. Are you really quivering over the last 10%?

> Are you really quivering over the last 10%?

Yes because it is still open. You don't lock a prisoner without trial only 10% he is either locked up for decades and tortured or he isn't.

The prisoners still locked up are stateless terrorists who are not protected by the Geneva Convention or the Constitution. They have no rights under any law, and the only reason that they were accorded due process is because we are better than they are and prove it by not simply filleting them.

The ones left in Guantanamo were given trials and found guilty of war crimes, including the rape and torture of their own former countrymen. Rotting in a prison with free healthcare, food, and religious materials is better than they deserve.

If they had their trials and found guilty they should be either imprisoned in a federal prison or sent back to the country they come from. How are they "stateless"? There were not born in the middle of the ocean. From what I remember it was a mix of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Yemen.

Congress passed a law barring the transfer of those prisoners to stateside facilities from Guantanamo, and their home countries refused to accept them (nor were they legally obligated to do so). Under traditional international law, the US would have been within its rights to execute these individuals rather than simply jailing them in relatively plush accommodations.

You really should do some basic research before you try to argue out of your rear on this.

> (nor were they legally obligated to do so).

Legally obligated by what? Aren't people deported back to their country of origin all the time. They don't want to take them fine, deny their citizens visas and entry then, until they do.

> Congress passed a law barring the transfer of those prisoners to stateside facilities from Guantanamo,

Ok fair point, you're right about that. Why make strong promises then?

> US would have been within its rights to execute these individuals

That's a bit disturbing. At that level what rights are we talking about. US had been droning people including American citizens, so sure they could have taken them back and shot them. So we should be glad they didn't. Great, I guess?

Legally obligated by what? Aren't people deported back to their country of origin all the time.

By treaty.

Why make strong promises then? Because when he made those promises he had a Democratic Congress and a reasonable expectation of fully fulfilling his promise, which he still managed to almost fulfill despite the most hostile Congress in history.

At that level what rights are we talking about. US had been droning people including American citizens, so sure they could have taken them back and shot them.

We're not talking about civilians or soldiers. We're talking about people who deliberately and avowedly took up arms against the U.S., renounced their citizenship (U.S. and non-U.S. alike), and raped, tortured, and murdered civilians and soldiers without any attempt to follow the various treaties established for wartime conduct.

>It's impressive that we've fallen so low that we're blaming the Obama administration for not fixing what the Bush administration did.

Why The Fuck shouldn't we, he campaigned on ending that shit. His similar actions on the banking crisis continue to have horrific consequences.

Who gives a fuck about the GOP, we know they're nutso - Obama pretended to be sane though. Obama is also directly responsible for the DNC owing so much money that they were forced to sign a deal with Hillary before the nominations even started.

> Who gives a fuck about the GOP, we know they're nutso

Given that they are running the government, congress, the CIA and everything else besides, a lot of people care - and maybe you should too?

Obama is not in office and the election is over.

Perhaps you should consider caring about the "nutso" GOP, as their hold on power is the current reality.

Sone7 10 days ago [flagged]

My point was that if you were expecting the GOP to end torture you're a fucking moron.

Obama, on the other hand, was full of fiery speeches during his campaign about ending torture.

What are you, implying I don't care that crazy people are running the country? Feck off ya mook.

Judging from this and your other recent comments, you seem to be imploding.

Anyone can have a bad day(s), and I think it's worthwhile to recognize that humanness and be willing to extend grace.

Still, that doesn't mean I need to go there with you. Good luck.

Everybody knew Bush was a tool and there were little expectations.

Obama, on the other hand, was branded as the good guy. He did very little to deserve that though. People were blinded by his eloquence, but he was a huge disappointment as a president.

I mean, if the next president after you is a choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton, you definitely fucked up and set the standards low.

Remember when he said he would protect whistle blowers?

Anyways, Obama's targeted killing doc[1] actually shows the deep state constitutional abuses and extrajudicial killings continued to develop and evolve under his watch. Whether he is really in control of that, or not, is up for debate.

Eisenhower and JFK warned us that these unelected powers were becoming too powerful.


Just as well:

> Her then-boss Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s director of operations for counterterrorism, signed off on the order.

But of course all the blame lies on Haspel...

She ran the facility and issued the order to destroy the evidence of legal violations. The fact that her boss did not rescind that order doesn't change her complicity.

This is an absolute disaster for the Obama Administration. A complete stain on Barack's history and appearance of integrity.

IMO that’s probably because the POTUS doesn’t really have any power over things. We get a new one every four or eight years but somehow things always stay the same. They’re all puppets in my opinion.

"Some folks" in this case being primarily Abu Zubaydah, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden who was involved in plotting terror attacks against the U.S. (although not apparently 9/11). The "torture site" was legal under U.S. law at the time as was the destruction of the videos of the interrogations. Abu Zubaydah is still in Gitmo, but if he wasn't the U.S. would be trying kill him.

"In 2002, she oversaw a secret prison in Thailand that tortured two terrorism suspects. That torture took place within the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which suspected terrorists are sent to US allies, and interrogated in “black sites” on their soil.

One of the men, known as Abu Zubayda, was waterboarded 83 times in one month and was slammed into walls by the head. He was deprived of sleep and kept in a coffin-like box. Interrogators later decided he didn’t have any useful information.

ProPublica found that Haspel personally signed cables to CIA headquarters that detailed Zubayda’s interrogation.

CIA videos of the torture were destroyed in 2005, on the orders of a cable drafted by Haspel. Her then-boss Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s director of operations for counterterrorism, signed off on the order. “The cable left nothing to chance. It even told them how to get rid of the tapes,” he wrote in his memoir, according to ProPublica. “They were to use an industrial-strength shredder to do the deed.”"

The Washington Post is a much better source than Quartz on this. Abu Zubayda did produce much useful information but it was apparently before the "enhanced interrogation techniques."

>He was reportedly persuaded by defense secretary Jim Mattis that the method is an ineffective intelligence tool.

I'm glad that there are still people with some common sense and who hold positions of power in the US defense/security apparatus.

Although it's unfortunate that the argument against torture is not that it is barbaric and inhumane, but that it is merely ineffective.

exactly this!

Soldiers (and the leaders who truly care about them) also have a vested interest in opposing torture lest it be normalized for use upon them. There is a reason so many countries joined on as signatories to the Geneva convention and it's rooted in both common decency and direct self-interest.

I don't think it's any surprise that many of the political proponents and enablers of torture as a policy did not serve or dodged their obligations when they had the chance to be the combat machines they claim they'd be, if only given a chance...

Do you have concerns that those seem to be the people most likely to fall out of favor and inevitably leave?

So, basically she's fully qualified to lead the CIA?

Geeze, Eisenhower and JFK really weren't kidding when they warned about this.

We need a modern human rights movement that respects all people in the world. This isn't just a one-party problem, the Obama Targeted Killing Doc proves it spans across both political parties(1). It is also fundamentally antithetical to being American.


Welcome to the American security state


Entire government is run by shady people. Even tech boards of companies like Dropbox have Secretary Rice on them.

Good info

Why has this thread been flagged?

Users flagged it, presumably because they don't think it fits the site guidelines at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Wouldn't that normally come with the ability to "vouch"? But I saw no "vouch" button for this one.

Vouch works only on [dead] submissions and comments. The counter to [flagged] (as opposed to [flagged][dead]) is upvote.

Got it, thanks.

CIA creates more terrorists than it purportedly defuses by seeding deep resentment in people through the CIA's actions (torture being one of them).

Torture gives our enemies moral high ground.

Trump nominates torturer to lead CIA, HN erupts with anti-Obama comments...

I'm frankly more taken aback by both how

1. Comments regarding how pervasive bad operators are throughout our govt. are flagged and downvoted to the bottom of the thread, even when they're the most relevant to HN with respect to governmental participants on tech/startup boards.

2. That despite such a high score and comment volume, for what I'd say is a rather important topic, this thread is already flagged to page 3 and below.

The entire handling of this thread, for the weight I'd give the topic, has saddened me.

I'll try and make an HN-contributive point with regards to the OP out of this meta-complaint in observing that while there's a lot of finger pointing and blame in this thread, I don't see enough asking "Ok, so _now what_." How do we push back against the normalization of torture? As observed elsewhere, govt. employees who had a hand in some of this now hold positions within our companies. Is it feasible/desirable to take a social role in making them unwelcome there? This is certainly the path I'll be trying, for as little influence as I have in my business dealings.

What now?

Voters need to organize ourselves so we can put forward a credibly effective litmus test: "We won't elect anyone who will continue to tolerate torture"

So let me probe at this + give some anecdotes.

"Organize ourselves." The meat and potatoes here seems to be in what it means to be organized. Amnesty International would theoretically fit the bill of what we're seeking, but as demonstrated by our inability to even end our own indefinite detention facilities (gitmo) during the tenure of a president who was ostensibly opposed to it, we can observe that the organization we've had at our disposal to fight these wrongs is unfortunately lacking in terms of producing results.

Meanwhile, the NRA has taken a different angle of "organization" and has seen it pay dividends, as their message by and large continues to be the law of the land, despite an onslaught of events (consistent mass shootings) that one would expect to undercut them.

How can we organize in a way such that we fall into the latter group and not the former? (In success, not in virtue)

And now the anecdotes. The other night I had a conversation with my mother about Vietnam. She had protested heavily, and told me about the inflection points in public opinion (kent state, tet, and the draft numbers themselves). For her, and her peers, "what is your draft #" became one of the key topics of conversation, the understanding of the implications of not doing anything about the war was pervasive among the broader population.

To loop this back to my main point, in absence of:

1. A clear, sustained, and singular message.

2. _awareness_ of this message throughout society.

3. A societal "concience" that the message is in fact something worth having

I am very pessimistic about incurring change; and she and I agreed that all 3 aspects are currently somewhat lacking in the American zeitgeist.

This loops back on my whole frustration about these topics often being persona-non-grata, so I'd ask if you agree with my summation, and what points you think can most effectively be addressed? (again to reference my root post, this is why I think we have a privileged position as tech influencers and business-people, since there's often such tight connections between our work and govt, and we may be able to flex this)

I agree with your thoughts, and I think you've clarified the problem well here.

I think #1 is likely the most addressable, at least in the short term.

I think the best way to accomplish this is that we need a concise and consistent buzzphrase/meme/hashtag for demonstrating self identification in the group saying: "Our country is illegally torturing people and we need it to stop". Obviously, this string is too long - it should probably be less than 30 characters.

"#BlackLivesMatter" I believe owes much of its success in entering the public zeitgeist to the fact that people can add the hashtag in various contexts to indicate that the issue at hand is relevant to that particular conversation. (Whether BLM has a 'singular' message is debatable - probably more a constellation of related messages). Similar can be said for #MeToo, and to a lesser extent #FakeNews.

Maybe something like #TortureCausesTerrorism: if every social media thread which discussed terrorism had people bringing the conversation back to torture's role in fostering the environment which catalyzed those actions, it could plausibly shift the cultural conversation. While it is great to have people articulate their individual opinions, there is something to be said for making a low-effort buzzphrase someone can easily add to a conversation: fewer people will put the effort in to uniquely articulate their thoughts on a subject than would just quickly reply with a hashtag and some emojis.

My other comment on this page got 11 points in 6 minutes. But since then, every time I refresh the page my comment shows up as 'compressed' (as if it had been flagged), and it has been been on 11 points every time I've checked (now an hour old).

Weird shit happening here for sure.

To echo a sentiment I posted in another thread.

"I don't mean to 'complain about points' but it's rather absurd to look at the wild swings from +8 to -8 and back again for any of my posts on this topic. It speaks to me that there are at least two 'factions' with very polarizing opinions on this, and the context has turned less from discussion into silencing vs vouching. I certainly don't remember seeing these patterns as strongly 5+ years ago."

I've become increasingly unhappy with the quality of discourse over the last few years, especially on these "fringe" topics. It's doubly sad because I haven't found comparably good levels of discussion that HN sometimes generates, but for these other topics. (Ignoring the additional sadness that I fear by sticking our heads in the sand about anything that smells like politics we're in for a "Very fun" next few decades, I've historically been a strong advocate that to draw a hard line in the sand between "this is tech" and "this is politics" is to abscond a lot of responsibility _every_ expert community should have for the political space they operate in)


My comment is compressed even when opened in a brand new browser, and this thread no longer shows up on the News pages at all, at least the first seven pages.

If I'm not mistaken, there has been no reason for this given whatsoever.

Weird weird weird shit.

I sometimes come across political news in my feed and then post it.

These type of posts get flagged almost immediately fyi

"These type of posts"... Posts on incredibly important topics with incredibly active discussion?

I haven't seen one flagged and treated like this since 3 months ago (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15745363) - but that's the problem isn't it - we don't see them because they've been flagged.

As I said then, a little transparency isn't too much to ask for a "Hacker Community". And it's really weird how my comment is compressed, even in new browsers, despite having 11 points.

>> "You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan.' Even if the plan is horrifying!" - Joker from the Dark Knight

We mostly expect this type of nomination from Trump. But as most of the anti-Obama comments state, we were fooled into expecting more from him. Obama pretended to be different, which made his sameness all the more stark and disappointing.

So much better in Mark Hammil's voice, especially the last sentence!

Relatedly, 1/4 of Democratic candidates this cycle are affiliates of the national security state.


I gave a much more neutral source below.

Jeff Bezos' blog is hardly neutral and it does not appear they did the original research, but regardless, thanks for laundering the analysis through legacy media.

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