Wednesday

Senate Committee Expected to Approve Haspel to Lead CIA



The Senate Intelligence Committee is expected to vote Wednesday to approve the nomination of Gina Haspel to be the next head of the Central Intelligence Agency.


Her nomination would then go to the full Senate, likely next week, for final confirmation.


Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate, but five Democrats have already said they will vote in favor of Haspel becoming the first woman to lead the CIA.


Haspel wrote in a letter Monday to Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, that the CIA should not have run a harsh interrogation program after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.


The program, introduced under then-President George W. Bush, permitted waterboarding and other tough measures against terror suspects. Opponents of the program call waterboarding a form of torture.


Haspel said in the letter the program “is not one the CIA should have undertaken,” a position she did not publicly express during confirmation hearings last week.


“While I won’t condemn those that made those hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote.


During her testimony, Haspel promised not to restart the program if she is confirmed.


After reading Haspel’s letter, Warner sent out a statement saying he will support Haspel as the next CIA director when the intelligence committee votes on her nomination Wednesday.


He said Haspel is representative of the thousands of CIA employees who “serve quietly, without recognition and often at great personal risk in order to keep our nation safe from those who wish to do us harm.”


Warner said while he wishes Haspel had been “more open with the public” during her testimony before the committee, he found her to be “professional and forthright.” He said he believes Haspel would stand up to the president if “ordered to so something illegal of immoral — like a return to torture.”


Haspel played a key role in the interrogation program, including supervising a secret CIA interrogation center in Thailand and destroying tapes.


Numerous Democrats are still undecided about how they will vote and several have complained the Trump administration has failed to properly provide the public with a complete accounting of Haspel’s record, including a classified Justice Department report prepared by a special prosecutor who investigated the destruction of the tapes.


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