US Senate panel approves Gina Haspel as Central Intelligence Agency director

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WASHINGTON ― In a closed session on Wednesday, the Senate intelligence committee voted 10-5 to back the nomination of Gina Haspel as the next CIA director.

The Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to forward her nomination to lead the United States spy agency to the entire Senate, virtually assuring final approval of her nomination. In the committee vote, Ranking Democratic member Mark Warner and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin joined the committee's eight Democrats to support Haspel's nomination, with the remaining five Democrats voting against her.

But during her confirmation hearing last week, she said she doesn't believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her "strong moral compass" would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.

In written answers to the committee's questions, and a separate letter to Warner, Haspel stopped short of condemning the agency officials "that made these hard calls" and praised the "valuable intelligence collected" through the program - despite the Senate's determination that interrogations were not a viable means of gaining information.

The CIA's post-9/11 enhanced interrogation program that Haspel was involved with, as well as torture methods and waterboarding, have been contentious topics generally split along party lines. Haspel has been criticized for supervising a Central Intelligence Agency black site in Thailand where detainees were brutally interrogated, as well as for her role in the destruction of Central Intelligence Agency interrogation tapes.

It will make Haspel, a 61-year-old Russian Federation specialist, the first-ever woman to lead the CIA, and the first director who spent their entire career in the agency's clandestine services. "Gina Haspel failed that test", said Krulak, who organized a letter signed by more than 100 retired generals and admirals expressing concern over her nomination.

The Democrats who have elected to vote for Haspel have all cited the confidence she has of the agency's rank-and-file and the broader intelligence community. Some of Ms. Haspel's past actions and beliefs did not meet that standard.

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Two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, are opposed to Haspel's nomination.

In the days leading up to the vote, it was unclear whether Haspel would have the support she needed from Democrats on the committee.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Feinstein, investigated the CIA's interrogation and detainment program for terrorists in 2014.

Jones pointed to Haspel's role in the George W. Bush-era "enhanced interrogation" programs - now widely viewed as torture - as key to his opposition to her.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Tuesday that Haspel's confirmation vote could come relatively soon.

Yes, torture was used at her prison but it was legally-authorized at the time and she knows full well that those techniques are outlawed today.

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