Haspel confirmed as next Central Intelligence Agency director

Posted May 18, 2018

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency despite engrained opposition over her involvement in the George W. Bush-era torture program.

Republican Senators Rand Paul (KY) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) previously announced that they would vote against Haspel's confirmation, and Senator John McCain urged the Senate to reject her nomination.

Trump nominated Haspel, then deputy director, to lead the CIA in March after Mike Pompeo moved from the spy agency to lead the State Department.

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Committee on Intelligence May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Haspel's nomination reopened debate about the CIA's now-defunct program of detaining terror suspects overseas at secret lockups and subjecting them to harsh interrogation techniques.

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Tortured himself while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, McCain said approving Haspel would send the wrong message, and the country should only use methods to keep itself safe "as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world".

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington non-apology". "I look forward to supporting her".

"There is no greater or more hard task than protecting the safety and security of families of our great nation, and for that I am extremely grateful to every member of our intelligence community, including Ms. Haspel, who has spent decades in public service", said Senator Patty Murray in a statement following the vote. Three years later, she drafted a cable ordering the destruction of videotapes of those interrogations. Senator Ron Wyden of OR said on the Senate floor, "What I can say is her classified comments about her background have been as troubling as her public testimony". He asked how the Senate could take seriously Haspel's "conversion on torture?". Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

"While I respect Ms. Haspel's service and sacrifice, after meeting with her and reviewing classified documents, I do not think she is that person", McCaskill added. "Seeing her portrait in the halls of the agency next to the long line of former directors will be a long overdue but important breakthrough for the intelligence community". Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member of the intelligence committee.

"I think she's a particularly disastrous choice, being one of the principal actors" in the torture program of the Bush administration, Alberto Mora, the former general counsel for the US Navy and a senior fellow at the Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, told Al Jazeera.

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