General Question

Yellowdog's avatar

Why is waterboarding OK for Obama CIA director John Brennan (2013) but not for his underling who is Trump nominee for C.I.A. director Gina Haspel?

Asked by Yellowdog (6139points) May 10th, 2018

In 2013 and 2014, the Democrats on the nominating committee, plus many Republicans (including John McCain) treated Obama’s nominee for CIA director John Brennan like he did the right thing(waterboarding) to extract the information from the terrorists who orchestrated 9/11

Yet, in 2018, many of the very same individuals (including McCain)are harshly condemning Trump’s nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel for doing the same thing (at the behest of her former boss John Brennan).

I can understand that everyone hates Trump and loves Obama. But the CIA director works for the CIA not the President.

If Brennan is the one who started the waterboarding and was Haspel’s boss, why is Haspel given such a hard time and Brennan treated like a war hero, by the very same people, four years later?

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17 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

First, waterboarding isn’t okay for anyone.

Second, Brennan didn't start the waterboarding program, and he wasn’t Haspel’s boss until 10 years after her waterboarding days.

Third, Brennan and Haspel played very different roles in the CIA’s waterboarding program. Now, I’m not going to say that Brennan isn’t complicit in the waterboarding program. He knew about it and supported it for a long time. But Brennan spent most of his career either as an analyst or as a supervisor of other analysts, whereas Haspel was an agent who did the actual torturing (and ordered others to do it).

Fourth, while Brennan initially supported the waterboarding program, he had changed his mind about it by 2009 (or possibly earlier, but 2009 is when he first made public comments about it). Haspel has never publicly stated any change of mind about waterboarding, destroyed evidence regarding the CIA’s waterboarding program, and has refused to denounce the CIA’s use of waterboarding. All she has promised is to not violate the law, which now clearly defines waterboarding as torture.

These differences won’t seem like much to many people, but they are exactly the kinds of hairs that politicians love to split. And in any case, you are overlooking the much deeper hypocrisies here (e.g., that the top politicians from both parties were briefed about the program and raised no objections to it—even in private—until it became public knowledge) in favor of much more superficial complaints.

zenvelo's avatar

Brennan was in the CIA at the time fo the bush era torture, but he was not in the chain of command that tortured prisoners.

Haspel is proud of her role in torturing prisoners.

Trump criticized Brennan in 2016 as being weak on tortire and coddling prisoners.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It was never OK. It doesn’t fit with the agenda that the US pushes. We are supposed to be better than that. Being farther removed from 9/11, lends less leniency to a team investigating terrorists. So. With 9/11 further in the past, the US can get back to public relations.

Yellowdog's avatar

On February 7 and December 11 2014, John Brennan supported the use of waterboarding. Dianne Fienstien and Nancy Pelosi, after hearing his answer approved of his answer and lauded his qualifications as CIA director.

On May 9th, 2018, the same Fienstein condemned Gina Haspel, who answered in a very similar way.

Gina Haspel never said or demonstrated ‘pride’ in “torture’ You heard that from another souce other than Gina Haspel. Her response was not much different from John Brennan’s.

basstrom188's avatar

Trump is an outsider and the political elite want to make life as difficult as possible for him.

LostInParadise's avatar

Haspel was in charge of a detention site in Thailand She had to have directly authorized the interrogation techniques that were used, which included waterboarding and other forms of torture. She also worked to destroy evidence of the CIA’s use of torture. I don’t know of any comparable position or acts on Brennan’s part. It does not help things to have our amoral president declare himself in favor of reinstating torture.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

On February 7 and December 11 2014, John Brennan supported the use of waterboarding

If you believe that provide a link.

rojo's avatar

Shocked, shocked I am at the blatant hypocrisy exhibited by Democrats. I am just glad the Republicans cannot be said to be hypocrites, I would hate to think that the entire system was corrupt.

You know what we need to do? We need to elect someone to the Presidency who will install an administration that is even more corrupt than the existing politicians…............Oh wait. We are already trying that.

Never mind.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Transcript of 7 February 2013 Senate hearing.

Transcript of 11 December 2014 press conference.

Brennan did not express support for waterboarding on either of these occasions. The closest he comes is saying that some of the detainees exposed to enhanced interrogation techniques at some point provided useful and valuable information. But he does not say—and goes out of his way to point out that he is not saying—that it was the enhanced interrogation techniques that elicited that information. He then follows that comment up with the following:

“Irrespective of the role EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques] might play in a detainee’s provision of useful information, I believe effective, non-coercive methods are available to elicit such information; methods that do not have a counterproductive impact on our national security and on our international standing. It is for these reasons that I fully support [President Obama’s] decision to prohibit the use of EITs.”

So it seems to me that Brennan’s position on the used of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, was pretty clear by this time.

Zaku's avatar

Waterboarding and torture are not okay for anyone.

Torture is atrocious, makes the people who do it into valid targets for righteous violence, and doesn’t even provide any practical advantages over non-torturous information gathering techniques.

(And of course what @SavoirFaire posted about the very different positions of the administrations on torture.)

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

and doesn’t even provide any practical advantages over non-torturous information gathering techniques.

It’s actually much worse because people will say anything, true or not, to make it stop.

Zaku's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay Exactly. Therefore it also has the negative consequence of showing everyone who knows that, that whoever’s making that decision, is foolish and/or has skewed motives (such as being willing to torture people, attract enemies, and get worse information, in order to gain a supposed political advantage by appearing “tough” to voters who may like that idea).

MollyMcGuire's avatar

The opposition to her is just politics. She’s a great pick. As long as terrorists are cutting off the heads of Americans,I’m not too concerned about their treatment if they land in our military prisons.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

as terrorists are cutting off the heads of Americans,I’m not too concerned about their treatment

After World War II the allies executed German and Japanese officials who agreed with your attitude.

Innocent people were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered by the US after 9/11 based on accusations from untrustworthy sources.

Calling them all “terrorists” shows the real contempt that conservatives have for justice, ethics, and the US constitution. It’s shameful.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Conservatives ,apparently, don’t have any capability of shame.

Yellowdog's avatar

She’s in now. Be prepared to be tortured

MrGrimm888's avatar

That’s what more than a few innocent brown people will hear…

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