After President Donald Trump nominated CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to takeover as director, stories from a year ago circulated about how she was in charge of a secret CIA prison in Thailand that tortured al-Qaeda suspects. The reports contained claims that she even participated.

I even blogged about it, mainly because I was curious how Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and others would vote to confirm her due to her supposed past.

After it caught on, ProPublica issued a correction that Haspel did NOT oversee the waterboarding of suspect Abu Zubaydah.

Editor-in-chief Stephen Engelberg wrote:

On Feb. 22, 2017, ProPublica published a story that inaccurately described Gina Haspel’s role in the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida leader who was imprisoned by the CIA at a secret “black site” in Thailand in 2002.

The story said that Haspel, a career CIA officer who President Trump has nominated to be the next director of central intelligence, oversaw the clandestine base where Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture. The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.

Here’s the thing. I want to know WHY it took over a year to correct this story. I do not blame Paul for using it as a basis for not supporting her or anyone else who used it to question if she’ll face a tough road to confirmation.

After all, it’s been out there FOR OVER A YEAR. ProPublica said it published the story after Trump nominated Haspel to serve as CIA deputy director. Engelberg explained that after the nomination, “three former government officials told ProPublica that Haspel was chief of base in Thailand at the time of Zubaydah’s waterboarding.”

Haspel faced criticism and backlash last year so why didn’t anyone speak up then? And if they did, why didn’t ProPublica retract the story? I’m sorry, but this is really bothering me that this story remain untouched until now.

Engelberg rightfully points out that at the same time, The New York Times published a story about Haspel’s involvement in the prison and brought it back up this week after Trump’s nomination.

Engelberg said after the stories resurfaced, former colleagues of Haspel came out to defend her and that she did not serve as chief of the base until late 2002 after the conclusion of Zubaydah’s waterboarding.

The prison closed in 2002 and Haspel returned to CIA headquarters at that time.

Dean Boyd, director of the CIA’s office of public affairs, told Engelberg that people have to remember that Haspel “has spent nearly her entire CIA career undercover” and that the majority “of what is in the public domain is inaccurate.”

Engelberg ended with this apology:

None of this in any way excuses our mistakes. We at ProPublica hold government officials responsible for their missteps, and we must be equally accountable. This error was particularly unfortunate because it muddied an important national debate about Haspel and the CIA’s recent history. To her, and to our readers, we can only apologize, correct the record and make certain that we do better in the future.

I still haven’t seen a correction from The New York Times.


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