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UPDATE: Pro Publica has retracted a significant portion of the report mentioned in this article. Rand Paul continues to oppose the Haspel nomination. See end of post for details.

Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul had one of his occasional five minute bouts of sanity; he said he could not vote to confirm CIA Black Site Princess Gina Haspel as the agency’s director, what with her balls-out enthusiasm for torture of the balls-out kind.

Well! Liz Cheney, who is a congresswoman now because FUCKING WYOMING OF COURSE SHE IS, wasn’t about to have any of THAT:

Wow — if you don’t like torture, you are a terrorist sympathizer. Accept torture or you too are the enemy. That’s almost as big a Cheney Torture Era nostalgia trip as a Marilyn Manson concert, except we doubt there’s quite as many middle-aged people wondering how they ever thought he was hardcore.

So let’s see how Rand Paul provided aid and comfort to terrorists when he went on Fox News yesterday and explained to Harris Faulkner why he just couldn’t get behind the torture lady (relevant bit starts at 1:39):


Paul said he opposes Haspel’s confirmation because all that torture stuff in her past doesn’t bode well for Americans serving overseas: “I don’t want, if they’re ever captured, for foreign countries to think torture is okay.” He has a point: It’s no coincidence that ISIL dressed many of its victims in Abu Ghraib style jumpsuits, for extra propaganda impact.

Faulkner played the Good Nazi card: After all, just like everyone else in those days, Haspel was only following orders and keeping America safe, and what’s so wrong with that, huh?

Paul said, as he had in his earlier announcement that he’d oppose Haspel, that Haspel seemed just a tad too “gleeful” about seeing suspects tortured. Paul cited a Pro Publica report which has since been retracted; see end of post which references a book written by one of the interrogators at the black site in Thailand commanded by Haspel. She reportedly had a jolly time mocking Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded scores of times without ever revealing any useful information:

At one point, Haspel spoke directly with Zubaydah, accusing him of faking symptoms of physical distress and psychological breakdown. In a scene described in a book written by one of the interrogators, the chief of base came to his cell and “congratulated him on the fine quality of his acting.” According to the book, the chief of base, who was identified only by title, said: “Good job! I like the way you’re drooling; it adds realism. I’m almost buying it. You wouldn’t think a grown man would do that.”

Paul thought maybe that went a little bit beyond “following orders”:

The man can’t breathe and he’s choking on saliva and water and she’s saying “Oh, you’re a good actor,” and “Can’t believe a grown man’s crying because of this treatment,” and it almost seemed to be a bit of glee in her voice, that she enjoyed the torture. And I don’t think that’s who we need to lead the CIA […]

We should not reward somebody who actually participated in torture treatment. Remember, they went to Thailand to do this ’cause it’s illegal in the United States.

Faulkner just didn’t see the problem there, since those black sites were outside of US law, so obviously torture was OK then. Is she running for Congress from Wyoming, too? To make matters even worse, Paul invoked the Geneva Convention against mistreating prisoners, so we guess he really DOES love terrorists. Also, remember that his moment of sanity ran well under five minutes, and that he’ll almost certainly follow it by explaining why children must be allowed to mine uranium, for freedom.

Rand Paul wasn’t the only liberal squish RINO who Cheney ripped into; on Tuesday, she laid into pacifist wimp John McCain, who doesn’t know the first thing about why torture is good for America’s children and other living things:

Apart from the lies about torture saving lives, preventing attacks, and producing useful intelligence, it’s a pretty good argument. Oh, and also apart from the comparison to SERE program, which teaches American troops to resist torture, and was based on Chinese techniques that elicited false confessions, not real intel. (For that matter, SERE doesn’t include the full range of repeated abuse used by the CIA.) Oh, and Liz Cheney, an attorney, also appears to have no idea what “slander” is. And since more reliable intel was gained with non-abusive interrogation techniques, as laid out in the Army interrogation manual, the program was not “crucial.”

But once you exclude all that stuff, what remains is absolutely correct: Men and women did carry out the program.

Get ready for a whole bunch more torture apologists to come out of the woodwork as the nominations of Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel move toward the Senate. America is bullish on waterboarding — “and worse” — and you’ve got to bet that this time, there won’t be any downside, because the rest of the world has stopped laughing at us. Believe me.

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Pro Publica has corrected a significant portion of the report mentioned in this article. Gina Haspell was not the chief of base at the Thailand black site at the time of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogations, and was therefore not the person the interrogator’s book accused of mocking Zubaydah.

That said, Haspel did later command the site, and did oversee the torture of another al Qaeda detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. She also was involved in the CIA’s order to destroy videotapes of torture/interrogations of both men. Pro Publica’s correction is, we’d add, a model of how responsible journalism should be done — it corrects the facts and explains how the error came to be.

Buzzfeed reports that Rand Paul continues to oppose Haspel’s nomination because she was nevertheless involved in the CIA torture program. We continue to expect him to offset that moment of sanity with more crazy shit soon, and we now won’t be surprised if he ultimately votes to confirm, since just a little torture was OK.

And Liz Cheney remains an obscene, torture-loving felcher of rabid hyenas.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please click here to send us money. If we waterboard you, it’ll be with gin.

[TPM / Liz Cheney on Twitter / Pro Publica (article now updated with retraction/corrections) / Guardian Update: Buzzfeed]

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