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In-Depth Interview: Prof. Lisa Hajjar Details CIA Nominee’s Deep Involvement in Torture, and Argues Against Confirmation

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Prof. Lisa Hajjar has written widely about torture and Guantanamo; she returns to offer informed opposition to the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA. Hajar is a professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara.  In this interview, we comment on her Haspel commentary at The Nation, and her recent essay, The Afterlives of Torture.

We begin with Hajjar’s comments about Gina Haspel’s nomination, and her dark history at CIA as a promoter of and participant in torture of terrorist suspects. We discuss how the mainstream media is reverting to practices from the Bush era, avoiding the term “torture” when it refers to American actions while allowing deeply biased people like John Brennan and James Clapper to sing her praises while rationalizing her role in torture.

We touch on the politics of the confirmation process, and the central role of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who once blocked a promotion for Haspel due to her torture history.  While Sens. Rand Paul and Ron Wyden have signaled opposition, it will not be easy to block this nominee.

Hajjar’s essay is compiled from talks that Hajjar has given about the legacy of US torture, and we talk about excessive secrecy, lack of accountability, and lies that leave many Americans in support of torture.

Prof. Hajjar has been to Guantanamo many times, most recently in February.  She reports on the breakdown of the military commissions, partly due to claims of secrecy related to known facts (like torture and the black sites).  She also is opposed to the demolition of Camp X-ray, because we cannot destroy the history of these American atrocities.