Haspel’s agency defenders say that her involvement in torture must be understood in the crucible of 9/11. She took “the most demanding and least rewarding assignments in the War on Terror,” ex-CIA official Bennett said in March, because Haspel “felt it was her duty during the time of greatest anxiety and uncertainty for the American people in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.”

Piette, the former Navy SEAL now representing Nashiri, says he can understand making mistakes during the “bad time” shortly after 9/11. “But we shouldn’t have anyone rewarded for those mistakes. We shouldn’t redefine someone’s mistakes as evidence of success. That’s where the danger to the rule of law comes in. It’s shifting the window, normalizing things that shouldn’t be normalized.” Perhaps, he said, Haspel’s nomination was “just a symptom” indicating that the normalization of torture has already occurred.

“A lot of people in the CIA would probably agree that they should never have been in the business of detentions and interrogations,” continued Piette. “Forcing them to shift that mission is part of the problem. But that is the point when she should have fought back. Other people did. She just didn’t.”