Following Gina Haspel's appointment to deputy director of the CIA last year, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights asked German authorities to put out a warrant for her arrest in Germany for her part in the CIA's torture program.
According to Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and general secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, German prosecutors are reviewing that request, and the group's sense of urgency has only increased as Haspel was nominated as CIA director this week by President Donald Trump.
Haspel was directly involved in the CIA’s torture program under George W. Bush. She was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where one prisoner was waterboarded 83 times and tortured in other ways. Both Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel must now face Senate confirmations, but barring any Republican defections, both can be confirmed without any Democratic support.
Kaleck said pursuing individuals such as Haspel via European authorities is essential because the United States refuses to hold those responsible for and permitting of torture accountable:
"So, in the U.S., there have been systematic torture since 9/11, conducted under President Bush. And then, under President Obama, it was decided not to investigate and prosecute it. Therefore, there is no justice in the U.S. And the result is now the decision of President Trump to employ Gina Haspel, first as a deputy director and now as the director."
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights considers Haspel one of the most "notorious torturers" and opted to target her for prosecution once she rose in the ranks of the CIA last year.
Once her position increases the likelihood of travel, says Kaleck, it sends Haspel the message that she does not have the freedom to travel the world as she pleases, because she is a wanted person.
While Kaleck noted an arrest warrant has not yet been issued at this time, he maintained that the warrant is only part of the message:
"Of course, we ask for an arrest warrant, but we have to ask for much more. I mean, the danger is now that a person who played a prominent role in the torture system of President George W. Bush will use the same methods in future. And so, the message has to be: We have to stop torture. And that means that our governments here in Europe and our judicial authorities do everything possible to communicate to President Trump and the rest of his government that notorious torturers aren’t allowed in this function to enter Europe.
And so, maybe this year, maybe next year, she is going to face serious trouble, political trouble, but also trouble with the legal authorities. And that is our task, to maintain this level of troublemaking."