11 June 2017

I Really Hope that Prosecutors Don't Blink

The new 2nd in command at the CIA is Gina Haspel, who was torturer-in-chief following 911, is now the target of a legal action against her for crimes against humanity in Germany:
In late March of 2002, Gina Haspel had very little time to prepare for the torture to come. Haspel ran the "Cat's Eye," a secret CIA jail located near Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. It was very warm, 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit), with the kind of humidity that makes your clothes stick to you, but inside the black site, also known as "Detention Site Green," the air conditioning had been cranked up to make it extremely cold. The cells had Spartan furnishings: a plank bed, four halogen lights, four meters by four meters (13 feet by 13 feet) of confinement with no windows.

America's Central Intelligence Agency planned to use this site to test, for the first time, the new "enhanced interrogation" techniques President George W. Bush had approved six months earlier. Al-Qaida fighters' will was to be broken through waterboarding, sleep deprivation or humiliation through forced nudity until they could be turned into valuable sources in the "war on terror," which had been declared by the U.S. after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. Haspel, a 45-year-old intelligence agent, was to carry out the first torture sessions in Thailand.

Fifteen years later, in 2017, President Donald Trump would appoint Haspel as the CIA's deputy director.


This week, human rights lawyers at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin submitted a filing about former agent Haspel to supplement a December 2014 criminal complaint over the CIA's extraordinary renditions and torture program it lodged with the Federal Public Prosecutor in Karlsruhe. The new information could create additional pressure for the Karlsruhe-based office to act. Thus far, the Federal Public Prosecutor has rejected calls to file any charges against Americans responsible for the torture – be it then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for incidents inside Abu Ghraib, former CIA head George Tenet or the intelligence agents at the National Security Agency (NSA) who eavesdropped on the German chancellor's mobile phone. When it comes to relations with the United States, Germany seems to have a habit of looking the other way. That also extends to the Federal Public Prosecutor.


Months later, Abu Zubaydah and another prisoner from Cat's Eye were taken to a secret jail in a forest in the Masuria region of Poland, and later to Guantánamo. Abu Zubaydah lost his left eye in detention. This, however, doesn't seem to have done anything to hurt Gina Haspel's career: She was appointed as chief of staff to the head of the directorate of operations at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center in Langley – and took care in this new role to ensure that incriminating evidence of the torture disappeared. She ordered the destruction of all 92 videotapes showing the torture of prisoners at Cat's Eye.


The human rights lawyers would also like to see their criminal complaint force Germany's top prosecutor to address the complex issue and its legal implications. If Gina Haspel or other suspects were to travel to Germany in the future, the Federal Public Prosecutor could issue an arrest warrant.
I really hope that the Germans put out an arrest warrant, but I see the possibility of that as being slim to none.

It's pretty clear that there will never be any consequences for torturers in the United States, Barack Obama ensured this when he normalized their behavior, and not only looked the other way, but facilitated their rise in the US state security apparatus.


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