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MSNBC analyst argues Trump’s CIA appointment of Haspel is a sign that torture is acceptable again

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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.

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“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.”

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“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:

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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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