Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Moral Compasses in the War on Terror

The Washington Post reports this evening that Gina Haspel, nominee to run the CIA, "will not restart" an interrogation program at the CIA:
Karoun Demirjian and Shane Harris (May 9, 2018). Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, pledges she won’t restart interrogation program. The Washington Post,

Gina Haspel told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that she “will not restart” a controversial CIA interrogation program if confirmed to lead the agency and that she would obey her moral compass, not President Trump, if she was ever instructed to carry out other questionable activities.

“We’re not getting back into that business,” Haspel said. “I would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA.”

“My moral compass is strong,” Haspel said as the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), pressed her to define her “moral code.”

Gina Haspel doesn't have to "restart" controversial CIA interrogation programs in house. She can simply outsource interrogation to willing partners in the global 'war against terrorism':
Outsourcing the Torture of Suspected Terrorists | The New Yorker

More Than 50 Countries Helped the CIA Outsource Torture | WIRED

Outsourcing Torture - CBS News

How the CIA Outsourced Torture | Secrets, Politics and Torture ... - PBS

Global outsourcing of services is a thing, as I'm sure Ms Haspel is well aware.

As for Ms. Haspel's 'moral compass,' I'll let her record stand for itself. In particular, I recommend reading this report:
Rob Berschinski (March 19, 2018) Gina Haspel Torture and the ProPublica Correction. Just Security
"Yet none of these factors should override the simple truth that Haspel’s confirmation and subsequent installment as a cabinet-level official will be seen, at home and abroad, as a referendum on America’s condoning of torture, as its proponents have already made clear."
Ms Haspel may, in fact, be competent, committed, and honorable, but her record is too stigmatizing for a country that has a notorious legacy to overcome if it wants to produce a future without blowback (see Chalmers Johnson on blowback here:


  1. Does anyone really believe they will dig up some moral paragon to replace her with? She is probably the best they have. And she may be okay. The Senate is in an awkward position talking about ethics and moral compasses. The Senate potentially has control over the CIA along with the House--if there was torture the Senate knew and approved. How about Jeff Sessions, a former Senator, and now AG who lacks the moral courage to do anything but stare at the office wall. Or so it seems. Really when DC talks about morals and ethics it is time to laugh. What about Libya? Can a good person become a Senator? That would be a good meditation. As far as I know in DC everyone is honorable and has great integrity. Like Bob Mueller. LOL

  2. It is noteworthy that many of the Senators who object to Ms Haspel had no problem whatsoever supporting Hillary Clinton for President. Clinton, I will remind you, was the main force behind the Libya adventure: "We came, we saw, he died . . .laughter". Or, "What difference does it make; they are dead?" Or the time she laughed over her defense of a rapist who ruined the life of a very young underage girl; and whom she pretty much got off the hook. She would be a good president but Ms Haspel would be too impure as the head of the CIA?

  3. One of the first classes I took in college was Ethics. I took this class from an outstanding philosopher who was nearing retirement age. During the first class he asked if anyone knew the meaning of an uncommon word. I did and raised my hand. Now I am not sure what that word was. Recrudescence? Something like that. For some reason I can not recall anything else from that class. Later on I majored in philosophy. So I should know something about ethics.

    Ethics has to do with how we treat others. Humans, animals, plants and minerals; and even ourselves. "Whenever there is an other there is fear." --Upanishads Without fear there can be no anger, no greed, no spite, no envy, no lust, etc. Very simply, love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    When I was growing up everyone of course went to church. Everyone heard about the Golden Rule. Personally I am against torture; the death penalty except in rare cases where the person's continued existence represents a real threat to society. I would love to live in an ethically oriented society. But I am realistic.

    Soon we are going to see vigilante groups forming in Europe to deal with the immigrants. Since most of the European governments are failing to protect their citizens these groups will begin doing it. This will lead to the deaths of many Muslims and probably many Europeans. Bad judgement on the part of leaders like Merkel has led to this crisis. When Muslims go home things will cool down. It is an integral part of their religion to spread their religion by violence. They did not come to Europe to become Europeans.

    So in a world like ours we are in a constant compromise between the ideal and the practical. We also need to keep in mind that Congress is usually a "conspiracy of dunces."

    Robert Oppenheimer's quote of the Bhagavad Gita in response to the first atom bomb: 'I have become death the destroyer of worlds', seems appropriate today. And also 1953 when the USA participated in a regime change for Iran. We create our own nightmares.


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