“Gina Haspel, 15 years before President Trump nominated her and the US Senate confirmed her as CIA director, personally oversaw the waterboarding of alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at a black site prison in Thailand in 2002, according to recent testimony at a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Waterboarding has been recognized as a war crime since World War II, when the US prosecuted Japanese soldiers for, among other charges, torturing American POWs with waterboarding. The confirmation by James Mitchell, one of two CIA contract psychologists who designed the agency’s infamous torture program [following the September 11, 2001, attacks], builds on documentation previously obtained by the National Security Archive that Haspel authored or authorized memos on al-Nashiri’s torture while she was chief of base at the prison from October through December of 2002. …

The testimony is crucial because the video evidence of torture was destroyed – by Haspel’s own orders. In 2005 after learning that the Washington Post was running a story on the agency’s black site prisons, Haspel, who was then the chief of staff to National Clandestine Service head Jose Rodriguez, drafted a cable authorizing the destruction of 92 videos of al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah being tortured. Rodriguez approved the memo and justified the destruction by telling then-CIA Director Porter Goss and others that ‘the heat from destoying [sic] is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain.'”

– Lauren Harper, “Haspel Personally Observed CIA Waterboarding, Witness Testifies,” nsarchive.gwu.edu, June 23, 2022