Fox host busts Trump CIA pick on waterboarding: 'Torture is illegal'


Shepard Smith exposed Gina Haspel's lie that she 'followed the law' when she helped torture prisoners.

Fox News host Shep Smith exposed an important aspect of Trump CIA director nominee Gina Haspel's disgraceful performance at her confirmation hearing by knocking down the claim that torture was legal during the Bush years.

Haspel repeatedly claimed during Wednesday's hearing that she and the CIA "followed the law then, and we follow the law now," referring to the Bush-era torture program.

But while reporting on that hearing Wednesday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith noted some facts that contradict Haspel's claim.

"Waterboarding is torture and is not permitted under Army Field Manual guidelines," Smith said. "Torture is illegal under international law. The Supreme Court noted in 2004 that the United States has a historical record of regarding waterboarding as a war crime and has prosecuted individuals for such practice in the past."

Smith is correct that the United States has prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime, and torture is illegal under both international and U.S. law.

Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) also noted during the hearing that there is no basis for Haspel — or anyone else — to claim the torture program was legal. Heinrich also cited international law, and noted that there has not been a single court ruling to back up the memo that torture apologists use to make this claim.

During the hearing, Haspel repeatedly refused to say that the torture program was immoral, or even that it was wrong. She even lashed out at critics of the torture program.

But even her insistence that it was technically legal at the time is a lie. Such remorseless lying belies any meager promises Haspel has made to resist Trump, who has praised her precisely because she participated in torture.

Even if she kept her promise to refrain from future torture, Gina Haspel's confirmation would send the message that America condones torture.

But the fact that Haspel can't tell the truth about torture even now is evidence that her promise is not to be trusted either.