News & Politics

Turns Out Trump's Nominee to Head CIA Did Not Oversee Waterboarding in Thailand

(CIA via AP)

When it was reported earlier in the week that President Trump was going to nominate career CIA officer Gina Haspel to become the agency’s director after it was announced that current director Mike Pompeo was heading to the State Department, many on the left and right seized on Haspel’s alleged role in “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

The focus was on the time period when Haspel was the chief of base at a CIA black site where terror suspect Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded.

Reuters reported that Haspel is “dogged by secret prisons.”

Referring to Haspel’s time in Thailand, John McCain had this to say: “The American people now deserve the same assurances from Gina Haspel, whose career with the agency has intersected with the program of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on a number of occasions.”

This all stemmed from some reporting that the multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning site ProPublica did last year. The site, however, got some of the details wrong and, to its credit, has issued a lengthy and prominently placed correction. Here are a couple of tweets from ProPublica’s Twitter account:

According to the correction published on the site, the accusations against Haspel “prompted former colleagues of Haspel to defend her publicly.”

Their defenses revealed that the timeline was off on the reporting and accusations. Haspel was the chief of base in Thailand, but “she did not arrive until later in 2002, after the waterboarding of Zubaydah had ended.”

The correction reveals the various nuts and bolts of how the story was misinterpreted and gotten wrong.

Kudos to ProPublica for handling this in such a public fashion. Older MSM outlets tend to deal with mistakes by issuing a quick correction which they then bury in their publications and sites. That’s usually followed up by sending any social media evidence down the memory hole, never to be spoken of again.