Current CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel was reportedly involved in a controversial CIA “black site” operation in Thailand that involved waterboarding detainees, and she was accused of destroying evidence of the gruesome operation. A number of legislators have raised concerns about Haspel. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he won’t confirm the “head cheerleader for waterboarding” to replace Mike Pompeo, who has been tapped by Trump to become secretary of state after the firing of Rex Tillerson.
Snowden joined the debate Thursday on Twitter, knocking down glowing reviews of Haspel by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). Cheney said Haspel has “spent her career defending the American people.” She said Paul, on the other hand, is “defending terrorists.”
Cheney is the daughter of Dick Cheney, the former vice president under George W. Bush, who blasted Snowden as a “traitor” after the NSA contractor released secret documents about the agency’s extensive surveillance of U.S. citizens and world leaders. Snowden was granted asylum in 2013 in Russia, where he currently lives. He faces treason charges in the U.S.
Snowden shot down as “an easily demonstrable lie” Liz Cheney’s claim that “enhanced interrogation” techniques were no different than those that some members of the U.S. military were subjected to as part of their Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) training. Cheney also claimed the tactics led to valuable intelligence. A 2014 Senate investigation found that torture led to no useful intelligence.
Snowden also pointed out grim details of CIA torture discovered by investigators, such as agents “assaulting” inmates with food when they went on hunger strikes. The Senate report revealed what investigators termed “rectal rehydration” using tubes filled with ground-up, uneaten meals.
Snowden concluded: “Listen, you can defend torture or you defend the Constitution. Not both. To defend torture is to attack the Constitution.”
Liz Cheney was also criticized after she appeared to explain the benefits of “enhanced” interrogation tactics to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). McCain’s daughter, Meghan, snapped back on Thursday: “My father doesn’t need torture explained to him.” McCain was imprisoned in Hanoi during the Vietnam War for more than five years.
After Trump named Haspel as his pick for the CIA, John McCain said that the CIA torture of al Qaeda suspects in the wake of 9/11 was one of the “darkest chapters in American history.”