The U.S. “War on Terror” has always been about persecuting Muslims, torture being the modus operandi of a cruel system of institutionalized Islamophobia. The nomination of Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency confirmed what we already knew: political impunity thrives in an authoritarian environment. And blaming the subjects of abuse endears you to white supremacists.
“Torture haunts U.S. politics like a ghost… hidden, repressed, denied and lied about,” says sociology professor Lisa Hajjar. Secrecy, unaccountability, and lies conspire to suppress public protest of its use. President Obama’s aversion to prosecution of the officials responsible for ghastly crimes undermined the power of international law — and enabled the resurrection of torture policy by Donald Trump. Obama’s executive order ending the use of John Yoo-approved “enhanced interrogation techniques” failed to abandon the use of extraordinary rendition, whereby suspected terrorists were sent to black sites, including the notorious facility in Thailand ruled with depraved indifference to human life.
“Because of U.S. exceptionalism, or the idea that we are a country without flaws, any deviation from our idealistic notions of who we are is treated as just that — a deviation,” writes Dr. Maha Hilal, Co-Director of Justice for Muslims. An estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the U.S. are “living in a climate of hostility,” reports National Geographic, “their faith distorted by violent extremists on one end and an anti-Muslim movement on the other.”
Don’t count on Congress to disqualify CIA director nominee Haspel for her role in the spy agency’s torture program. Without sustained nonviolent protests in the streets, creating the kind of political situation in which Trump/Pence appointees are removed from power is met, “Bloody Gina” will be promoted next week with accolades for her “service.” In the name of her victims, we say NO to torture and the system that employs its use.