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Fact 12

Last updated: July 19, 2023

Architects and operators of the CIA torture program have risen to prestigious positions in government, the private sector, the federal judiciary and academia.

Notwithstanding United States federal law making torture a crime, nobody has been charged in connection with the CIA torture program. What is worse, architects and operators of the program have risen to prestigious—and often powerful—positions in the government, the federal judiciary, the private sector, and academia. For example:

Gina Haspel, who ran a CIA black site where both Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were tortured, and who was deeply complicit in destroying CIA videotapes of that torture, was later named director of the CIA. A majority of the same Senate intelligence committee that investigated the torture program, developed the Torture Report, and released the report’s executive summary supported her nomination and voted to confirm her.

James Pavitt, the CIA’s deputy director of operations during the torture program, is a Senior Advisor at the prestigious Scowcroft Group, a global business advisory firm. He also sits on the Board of Directors of CACI, a U.S.-based government contractor with $5 billion in 2019 annual revenue that is being sued for its participation in the torture of four Iraqi men at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury were all principal authors of the “torture memos”—the legal opinions authorizing CIA torture. In 2003, Bybee was appointed, and Senate confirmed, as a federal judge to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is one of the 12 most powerful courts in the United States federal court system, sitting just below the Supreme Court. Yoo is the Emanuel Heller Professor of Law and director of the Korea Law Center, the California Constitution Center, and the Law Program in Public Law and Policy at the University of California at Berkley Law School. In 2017, Steven Bradbury was appointed, and Senate confirmed, as the general counsel for the Department of Transportation.