Was the CIA's use of torture immoral?
Don't ask Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to run the agency, because she doesn't have a clear answer -- or, at least, not one she was willing to offer publicly and under oath on Wednesday. Called upon repeatedly during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill to address whether the CIA's post-9/11 detainee interrogation techniques were morally objectionable, Haspel demurred, refusing over and over again to address the question directly and without qualification. "My parents raised me right," she said, at one point, after being scolded by a Democratic senator for addressing "fundamentally moral questions" with "very legalistic" explanations. "I know the difference between right and wrong."
Haspel, who has spent more than three decades with the CIA, entered the room with a clear plan. First, she pledged that the agency, under her leadership, would not "restart ... a detention and interrogation program" like the one since banned by Congress. But Haspel, who reportedly led a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where harsh interrogations now considered torture were conducted, and served as chief of staff to the CIA's top operations officer, Jose Rodriguez, in 2005, when he ordered the destruction of hundreds of hours of videotaped interrogations, often hedged her remarks when quizzed about her own feelings and some very specific potential challenges up ahead.
Heinrich Himmler would have been a better candidate still but he wasn't available...