In the wake of recent attacks on acting CIA Director Gina Haspel, one former Navy SEAL had some choice words when it came to the CIA director nominee’s involvement in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
After serving for 13 years in America’s military — including three overseas deployments as a SEAL — and eventually becoming the successful founder and CEO of Bottle Breacher, Eli Crane has seen and endured much.
So when it came to Haspel’s career of fueling enhanced interrogations, which are currently being labeled as torture, the former SEAL claimed to be confused by the attacks on the acting director by lawmakers.
Haspel’s nomination for CIA director has recently come under fire, as she has ties to interrogation techniques that were used in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Haspel ran a secret detention center in 2002 in Thailand — code-named “Cat’s Eye” — that had been widely known for its torturous ways, including waterboarding, which allegedly occurred on her watch.
Yet, in a hearing on Wednesday, lawmakers with the Senate Intelligence Committee couldn’t get Haspel to denounce her work in the field of “enhanced interrogation” and she essentially refused to claim that torture was immoral and unethical.
Yet, this type of torture is something Crane said his fellow veterans endured before they were deployed.
“This criticism of Haspel by both parties has me asking: If they did this to us and we don’t have a problem with it, why are we so concerned about doing this to terrorists to extract vital intelligence to save lives?” Crane said in an op-ed he wrote for Breitbart.
Crane himself acknowledged that the topic is highly controversial. Lawmakers, such as Senator John McCain who had been captured and tortured during the Vietnam War, refuse to support Haspel.
McCain stated that, though he believes Haspel to be a patriot and someone who loves America, her overall “refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”
However, even with the outrage from lawmakers, Crane suggested that enhanced torture is merely part of the job and that many serving the country have had to go through it right here in the U.S. — starting with Survival Evasion Resistance Escape school.
“Yes, that is correct: many of the veterans you know as fathers, mothers, husbands, cousins, and family friends have endured waterboarding, sleep deprivation, starvation, and much, much more to prepare them for the very real possibility that we might get captured behind enemy lines,” Crane said, adding that all “techniques” were done under close supervision and in a controlled environment.
“Although I am very thankful for the lessons I learned there and believe it is one hundred percent necessary to prepare those of us destined to operate in war zones, I will never volunteer to go back,” he added. “Quite frankly, it sucked!”
Crane detailed his time in the school, recalling how he and others were forced to spend time in “cement dog houses that were not tall enough to sit upright in” and dark cells that had audio tracks blasted over a loudspeaker.
The “prisoners” were also made to sit on four-by-four beams within the concrete shelters, where they practiced Morse code with each other while they waited their turn to be tested in a mock interrogation.
“The more courageous members of the class took turns catching a little bit of shut-eye while other members acted as lookouts for the guards,” Crane said.
“I will never forget one of my interrogations or the man who carried it out,” he added. “He was a very stocky, bald, white man who hit me so hard with an open hand that I actually lost consciousness for a split second and barely caught myself from hitting the floor.”
Yet, even through the “practice” of being captured, Crane remains firm that lawmakers appalled at Haspel’s work may not see the whole picture and do not understand the enemy and what it means to be in war.
“When I hear our bureaucrats and politicians lecturing appointees and the cameras about taking the moral high ground and being above reproach in our handling of prisoners, I cannot help but question their understanding of the methods used or the big picture,” Crane said.
The former SEAL added that politicians may have thought otherwise about Haspel’s “enhanced techniques” if it was one of their loved ones’ lives on the line, and the only thing standing between a terrorist and that life was a practice such as waterboarding.
“We are not talking about pulling out fingernails or people’s teeth here,” he said. “We aren’t talking about playing Russian roulette or chopping off hands or other extremities. We are talking about relatively mild interrogation techniques that I know to be relatively safe and effective because I have experienced many of them.”
“I will never be in support of inflicting excruciating physical or mental pain on our enemies,” he added. “But, as far as I’m concerned, if I can handle it and be just fine then I am OK with exposing our nation’s enemies to a little discomfort to make sure that we don’t lose more innocent American lives.”
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