10 August 2018 — National Security Archive
National Security Archive Wins FOIA Lawsuit for Thailand Black Site Reports
Haspel described extended sessions of physical violence and waterboarding; CIA cables detail contract psychologists Mitchell and Jessen working for Haspel
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 636
Washington D.C., August 10, 2018 – Current CIA director Gina Haspel described graphic acts of deliberate physical torture including the waterboarding of a suspected Al-Qa’ida terrorist under her supervision when she was chief of base at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, according to declassified CIA cables – most of which she wrote or authorized – obtained by the National Security Archive through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and posted on the Web today.
The Haspel cables detail conditions the public has only seen in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs from Iraq of detainees hooded and shackled, forced nudity, wall slamming, and box confinement, as well as “enhanced techniques” never photographed such as the simulated drowning of suspects on the waterboard. Waterboarding is a war crime under both U.S. and international law, dating back to U.S. prosecution of Japanese solders for torturing U.S. POWs during World War II.
Although the CIA redacted Haspel’s name and those of the CIA contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who administered the waterboard, other declassified documents (including the 2004 CIA Inspector General report) and public statements confirm their leadership of the torture of alleged terrorist Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri at the black site between November 15 and December 4, 2002.
“Release of Gina Haspel’s torture cables shows the power of the Freedom of Information Act to bring accountability even to the highest levels of the CIA,” said Archive director Tom Blanton, who first identified the Haspel cables from a footnote (336 on p. 67) in the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report declassified in 2014.
The Archive filed its FOIA request for the Haspel cables on April 16, 2018, after she was nominated by President Trump to be CIA director. Despite the clear public interest in the documents, the CIA denied the Archive’s request for expedited processing, and the Archive went to court on April 27. The U.S. Senate confirmed Haspel as CIA director on May 17 (by a vote of 54-45) on the basis of a record amassed almost exclusively in closed hearings, with no declassification or public release of information even remotely approaching that of previous CIA nominees.
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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.