Senate Intelligence Committee votes to advance Gina Haspel's nomination as CIA director

Elias Hubbard
May 16, 2018

Haley blames Iran, Hamas for Gaza violence Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief Heitkamp backs Haspel to lead CIA MORE (Va.), the vice chairman of the committee, and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump gives GOP midterm pep talk Heitkamp backs Haspel to lead CIA Haspel says CIA should not have used "enhanced interrogation" MORE (W.Va.), sided with Republicans in approving her nomination in a 10-5 vote during a closed committee meeting. Among the Democrats who have come out backing Haspel is Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Haspel at present has the help of almost all of Republicans and endorsements from 5 Democrats.

Harris and four other Democrats voted against her.

"Gina Haspel is the most qualified person the president could choose to lead the CIA and the most prepared nominee in the 70 year history of the agency", said Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C. "She has acted morally, ethically, and legally, over a distinguished 30-year profession and is the appropriate individual to guide the Company into an unsure and hard future. Her nomination has support from national security leaders and senators in both parties", McConnell said in a statement Wednesday morning.

But for Warner, and for the Democrats who followed his lead to also announce their support for Haspel on Tuesday, it was enough.

Haspel's critics have also complained that the Central Intelligence Agency has chosen to selectively release information about Haspel's 33-year Central Intelligence Agency career in order to put her in a positive light.

"With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken", she wrote in the letter to Warner.

She had not expressed those feelings publicly, during her contentious confirmation hearing last week. Her nomination enjoys the support of six former CIA Directors who have served under Republican and Democratic presidents, he said.

Haspel faces opposition from a majority of Democrats and human rights groups for her role in the George W. Bush administration's interrogation and detention program, which critics say amounted to torture.

Haspel said she would "refuse to undertake any proposed activity that is contrary to my moral and ethical values". Ron Wyden, D-Oreg., said in a statement Wednesday. "However, Ms. Haspel explained to me that the agency should not have employed such tactics in the past and has assured me that it will not do so in the future", Sen.

Now serving as the agency's deputy director, Haspel is well-regarded within the agency.

The controversial episodes in Haspel's career include a stint overseeing a secret prison in Thailand where brutal interrogations were conducted, and her role drafting the 2005 cable ordering the destruction of 92 videotapes depicting the interrogation of one detainee.

The committee's report on the CIA's rendition program said senior al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were detained at that location.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Gerald Staberock, secretary general of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), said Haspel's expected confirmation is a "terrible message by the United States that torture is not a crime".

While Haspel promised during her confirmation hearing to never revive the program, she was far less resolute about condemning the techniques as immoral.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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