Haspel Backed by Intelligence Committee to Be Next CIA Director

(Bloomberg) -- Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday, sending it to a vote by the full Senate where confirmation is all but assured.

The committee voted 10-5 in favor of President Donald Trump’s choice to head the spy agency. While many Democrats in the Senate say they oppose Haspel’s nomination because of her supervision of the harsh interrogation techniques used in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the 30-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency won support from Virginia’s Mark Warner, the intelligence panel’s top Democrat.

“As director of the CIA, Gina Haspel will be the first operations officer in more than five decades to lead the agency,” Warner said in a statement. “I believe that she will be a strong advocate for the agency’s workforce, and an independent voice who can and will stand up on behalf of our nation’s intelligence community.”

Warner said he felt assured that Haspel “will stand up to the president if ordered to do something illegal or immoral – like a return to torture.”

In a letter to Warner on Tuesday, Haspel said she now believes the program was a mistake.
“The program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” she wrote. “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.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he intends to advance Haspel’s nomination to the Senate floor very soon. McConnell could advance it next week unless all members agree to vote earlier.

A number of Democrats and two Republicans, Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, have said they’ll oppose her confirmation because of her role in supervising the use of the disputed techniques on suspected terrorists. But with the support of most Republicans as well as that of Warner and at least three other Democratic senators, Haspel is likely headed toward confirmation by the full Senate.

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