May 9, 2018
by Alex Lubben
The protester who just got thrown out of Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing used to brief Ronald Reagan every morning.
Former CIA operative turned activist Ray McGovern got up and demanded answers from Haspel, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. While she promised not to create another torture program, she also wouldn’t condemn the last one. When McGovern spoke up, at least five Capitol Police officers quickly detained him, warned him to stop resisting, and threw him out of Wednesday’s hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The hubbub started when Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island, asked Haspel about the morality of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (read: torture) and how she would react if one of her own officers were tortured. Would she consider a CIA officer being waterboarded by “terrorists” to be immoral? Reed wanted to know.
“Sorry to interrupt here,” McGovern said, standing up in the audience. “Senator Wyden, you deserve a direct answer.” Wyden, however, wasn’t questioning Haspel at the time, so it’s unclear what McGovern was referring to.
At that point, Sen. Richard Burr, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, ordered Capitol Police to escort McGovern out of the room. And that they did, as McGovern yelled something inaudible about waterboarding.
Former CIA officer Ray McGovern was just forcibly removed from a Senate hearing for protesting Trump's CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. Haspel has been linked to the use of torture at CIA black sites. pic.twitter.com/osTQgQ6Sd0
— VICE News (@vicenews) May 9, 2018
In the days leading up to the hearing, McGovern wrote an opinion piece denouncing Haspel’s nomination, headlined, “Will a Torturer Become CIA Director?” In it, he claims that not only is torture immoral, but it doesn’t work: It simply produces “false intelligence” from the victim, who will say just about anything to put an end to their torture.
When asked if she agrees with President Donald Trump that torture “works” by Sen. Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, Haspel said no but also added: “I believe, as many directors who have sat in this chair before me, that valuable information was obtained from senior al Qaeda operatives that allowed us to defend this country and prevent another attack.”
McGovern served in the CIA for 27 years, between 1963 and 1990. In the eighties, he delivered a daily briefing to Reagan and prepared the Presidential Daily Brief, known colloquially in the intelligence community as the newspaper with the world’s smallest circulation. It’s a summary of all of the international goings-on the the intelligence community thinks the president ought to know about.
But in 2003, McGovern turned to activism and started an organization called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former CIA employees who called out then-president George W. Bush for peddling false information that would push the U.S. into a war with Iraq.
After McGovern was forced out of the room, Haspel continued to answer Reed’s question.
“I don’t believe the terrorists follow any guidelines, or civilized norms, or the law.” She insisted there was no comparison to be made between CIA agents and terrorists, even if both employed torture.
This article was originally published by “Vice News“
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