The Pulitzer Prize-winning news outlet ProPublica posted a false story about the current nominee for CIA director Gina Haspel in February 2017. They only retracted it yesterday. The story in question claimed she was in charge of an interrogation site when Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded.
Their story also claimed she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation — that never happened either.
The erroneous story was left to fester since February 2017.
In the retraction, they do explain their mistake but one has to wonder why they never contacted Ms. Haspel to avoid making such an egregious error. She could have straightened it out quickly.
How it went down
Haspel was nominated to the deputy CIA director post in February 2017. ProPublica published its story alleging that Haspel oversaw the implementation of enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002 at a secret “black site” in Thailand.
Then the retraction came in a tweet linked to an article.
The tweet read:
“Correction: Trump’s pick to head the CIA did not oversee waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah,” read a tweet from the official ProPublica account.
“This error was particularly unfortunate because it muddied an important national debate about Haspel and the CIA’s recent history,” the apology read. “To her, and to our readers, we can only apologize, correct the record and make certain that we do better in the future.”
They’re updating their story but it’s out there an no one else is updating it
We’ve updated the story on our site.
We’re also deleting tweets we sent before this correction, to prevent false information from spreading. See the screenshots here: pic.twitter.com/0C5Ehy6sRv
— ProPublica (@ProPublica) March 15, 2018
The retraction in part:
The story said that Haspel, a career CIA officer who President Trump has nominated to be the next director of central intelligence, oversaw the clandestine base where Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture. The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. 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.
Here’s an excerpt from the corrected story:
When questions began to swirl about the Bush administration’s use of the “black sites,” and program of “enhanced interrogation,” the chief of base began pushing to have the tapes destroyed. She accomplished her mission years later when she rose to a senior position at CIA headquarters and drafted an order to destroy the evidence, which was still locked in a CIA safe at the American embassy in Thailand. Her boss, the head of the agency’s counterterrorism center, signed the order to feed the 92 tapes into a giant shredder.
The report from ProPublica had been widely cited in order to impugn Haspel’s credentials for her nomination. The retraction will likely hurt the credibility of those criticizing the nomination.
Even the left is very concerned about this very serious error.