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Welcome to the WhoWhatWhy Podcast.

May 15, 2018

In spite of a Senate hearing in which Gina Haspel repeatedly evaded tough questions about her views on torture, it appears that she will be confirmed as the new CIA director. Enough senators were apparently mollified by her qualified assurances that there will be no more “enhanced interrogation” at the spy agency on her watch.

But John Kiriakou, who as a CIA insider exposed the original torture program in — and ironically was the only government official who went to prison over the issue — thinks that Haspel is actually a true believer in torture.

In his conversation with WhoWhatWhys Jeff Schechtman, he reminds us of all the opportunities she has had to renounce torture and the torture regime she presided over. Had she done so, Haspel could have changed her legacy, as well as the legacy of those who supported her in her efforts. But time and again she chose not to.

Kiriakou is still surprised by how few people have come forward to speak out against what happened. He believes that there are still many in the agency who want to recapture its vaunted “cowboy authority.”

Even as director of the CIA, Kiriakou says, Haspel may not be able to turn the clock back to 2001. But with Trump egging her on, anything can happen. And if the CIA does resume torture of any kind, the senators who voted for Haspel will shoulder part of the blame and should be held to account.

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