Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

US Senate panel advances Gina Haspel to lead Central Intelligence Agency

Senate Intel Committee Recommends Confirmation For Trump CIA Pick Senate Intel Committee Recommends Confirmation For Trump CIA Pick
Deanna Wagner | 17 May, 2018, 03:43

The Senate intelligence committee recommended Gina Haspel to lead the CIA Wednesday despite concerns over her role in the agency's enhanced interrogation program, which has been roundly criticized as torture.

Haspel has been a controversial choice, largely because she once ran a secret prison in Thailand where terrorism suspects were waterboarded after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Senator Richard Burr, the committee's Republican chairman, said in a statement that Haspel is the best person to lead the agency, saying she "has acted morally, ethically, and legally" during her career. He said he believes Haspel would stand up to the president if "ordered to so something illegal of immoral - like a return to torture".

McCain, who has been away from Washington all year as he battles brain cancer, urged the Senate not to vote for Haspel.

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. Ms. Haspel said: "I would not allow C.I.A.to undertake activity that I thought is immoral, even if it is technically legal".

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What's prevented her from being a shoo-in for the top job is her role at the center of one of the federal government's most sickening and indefensible programs, a brutal interrogation regime that used torture against terrorism suspects after the September 11 attacks.

"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", according to Haspel's written answers to some 60 additional questions from lawmakers. "The recipient of several prestigious awards (including the prestigious George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism) and positive recommendations by three former Central Intelligence Agency directors, Ms. Haspel is more than deserving of a confirmation by the U.S Senate". Haspel now has more than enough support to win confirmation, as Warner was one of three Democrats to announce Tuesday that they were voting for her, bringing the total to five.

Though two Republicans will not support the nominee-Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)-Democratic support ensures Haspel will clear the Senate. Richard Shelby (R.), Alabama's senior senator, and President Donald Trump, who carried the state by nearly 28 points in 2016. "Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying". Still, McCain said her role "in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing".

State Rep. Bobby Nardolillo, who is also running in the GOP Senate primary, joined Flanders in supporting Haspel.

Considering where President Trump has been on the subject of torture - his platform infamously stated that "torture works" - this is no small concession from Ms. Haspel.