MSNBC analyst argues Trump's CIA appointment of Haspel is a sign that torture is acceptable again
Jared Kushner, Gina Haspel -- screenshot

Speaking on MSNBC on Tuesday afternoon, an expert in CIA interrogation techniques claimed that the selection of Gina Haspel, who oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects following 9/11, was a sign from the president that he has no problem with returning to what the CIA euphemistically calls "enhanced interrogation techniques."


Speaking with host Katy Tur, author John Nixon-- who wrote "Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein" -- said that Haspel has a long tenure with the CIA, which included some of the "darkest events" in the agency's history, after calling her a bad choice to replace outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

"Why does she enjoy such broad support among the intelligence community if you think she's such a bad choice?" Tur asked after listing off several past directors who praised her selection.

"I think she's not a very good choice at all," Nixon quickly responded. "I think there are probably others that might have been a better choice. I will say this: her appointment kind of troubles me and it shows that the Trump administration apparently is most interested in the CIA in terms of operations. This appointment and a few others that Trump has made during his presidency has always favored the operational side. Therefore, I take that as being that the Trump administration is not really interested in the information that they can get from the CIA analysts, but they do want to use the agency as a weapon against their adversaries."

"Donald Trump did say on the campaign trail that he thought waterboarding should come back, he would bring it back and he would want to do worse because what ISIS is doing isn't fair and we shouldn't be playing by any sort of rules," Tur pressed. "He got large cheers for this. Do you think this is an indication that maybe we're going back in that direction of enhanced interrogation, of waterboarding, of torturing our detainees?"

"I certainly would hope not," Nixon replied. " But if you're going to bring it back, you have to have people to carry it out and, personally, if I were working at the CIA and somebody said, 'I want you to waterboard someone,' I would say, 'first, you have to give me a get out of jail card because I'm not doing that"

"And, you know, the thing is, this is an immoral program and it also doesn't produce the results that you want," he elaborated. "You want to get information off the battlefield from detainees. there are other ways to do it. you don't have to waterboard and torture people."

"Isn't naming her to be the next director of the CIA basically giving her a get out of jail free card?" the MSNBC host asked.

"Naming her to be the next CIA director is this," Nixon stated. "I think it sends the message that the ends justifies the means. We don't care how you do anything, as long as you get the end result. That is a very dangerous proposition, because in the history of the CIA, the times the agency has gotten in trouble and gotten presidents in trouble has been when this has been the operating ethos."

Watch the video below via MSNBC: