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.