ProPublica retracts report that Gina Haspel, Trump's CIA pick, oversaw torture of al Qaeda suspect Zubaydah

The CIA logo.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

On Thursday evening, ProPublica issued a retraction and apology for a February 2017 article in which the news organization erroneously reported that Gina Haspel, the veteran CIA officer President Trump has tapped to lead the agency, was in charge of a secret CIA prison in Thailand when al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in one month. "The story also said she mocked the prisoner's suffering in a private conversation," ProPublica editor in chief Stephen Engelberg wrote. "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."

Haspel was in charge of the black site when another detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was waterboarded three times, ProPublica says, and it also stands by its reporting that she "pushed her bosses to destroy the tapes of Zubaydah's waterboarding," which they did. "Her actions in that instance, and in the waterboarding of al-Nashiri, are likely to be the focus of questions at her confirmation hearings," Engelberg writes. Waterboarding is widely considered a form of torture, and Trump has proposed and reportedly pulled back an order to reauthorize it and other forms of inhumane coercion as interrogation tools.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.