Monday, 28 May, 2018

Confirmation expected after CIA nominee Gina Haspel wins Senate panel backing

Alabama Senator Doug Jones to Vote Against Gina Haspel for CIA Director BREAKING: Senate Intel Committee endorses CIA Dir. nominee Gina Haspel to get full Senate vote
Steven Clarke | 16 May, 2018, 21:49

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday recommended Gina Haspel be confirmed as CIA director, and now the full Senate will later vote on her nomination.

The Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to forward her nomination to the entire Senate, virtually assuring that she will earn final approval to lead the U.S. spy agency, replacing Mike Pompeo, who is now secretary of state.

At her confirmation hearing, Haspel repudiated the programs and said she would not allow their return.

Haspel, 61, faced questions over her work running a covert detention site where terror suspects were brutally interrogated in the years after the 9/11 attacks. "As a cosponsor of the McCain-Feinstein amendment that banned enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, I appreciated Ms. Haspel's commitment that she "would not fail to reject a proposal" that is "contrary to [her] moral and ethical values" or that is inconsistent with 'CIA's mission, expertise, and the law'".

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.

"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", Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement.

The 15th member committee is comprised of eight Republicans and seven Democrats.

"With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior Agency leader, the ehnanced interroragtion programme is not one the CIA should have undertaken", she said. Similarly, former CIA Director Leon Panetta made a personal appeal to Sen.

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While Haspel is expected to easily clear the panel in a closed-door vote today, her confirmation at the full Senate depends on winning support from key Democrats, largely those from conservative or centrist states, who are under enormous pressure from outside liberal and human rights groups to block her.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has staunchly opposed Haspel, called her nomination one of the most "self-serving abuses of power in recent history" because Haspel, as acting Central Intelligence Agency director, was in a decision-making role in determining what parts of her undercover career were declassified.

'[I] t was a mistake not to brief the entire Committee at the beginning, ' she wrote.

"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", he said. However, a letter sent by Haspel to top committee Democrat, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, seems to have sealed the deal for Trump's nominee.

The confirmation vote by the full Senate could occur before the end of the week. "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".

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

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".

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, McCain's Arizona colleague, has stated he is undecided.

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