Two Interrogations, Gina Haspel and Adolf Eichmann

On May 9, Gina Haspel, Donald Trump’s choice for head of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified at her Senate confirmation hearing in Washington, DC. Some senators questioned her about her tenure, in 2002, as CIA station chief in Thailand. There, the agency ran one of the “black sites” where suspected al-Qaida extremists were interrogated using procedures that included waterboarding. She was also asked about her role in the destruction of videotapes in 2005 that documented the torture of illegally detained suspects. Her evasive answers to these questions, disconcerting and unsatisfying, are also hauntingly familiar.

In 1960, Adolf Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli spies in Argentina and brought to trial in Jerusalem for his part in the extermination of millions of European Jews during Germany’s Third Reich. In his interrogation with Israeli police, published as Eichmann Interrogated, DeCopo Books, NY, 1999, Eichmann, stated that in the intervening years since the acts in question his own view of them had evolved and before the Senate on May 9, Haspel expressed herself similarly.

Haspel testified that while she can’t say what exactly might constitute an immoral order in the past, her “moral compass” would not allow her to obey one today, given the “stricter moral standard” she says “we have chosen to hold ourselves to.” She does not judge the actions that she and her colleagues took in the years after 9-11, “in that tumultuous time” of…

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