Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

Senate panel advances Trump nominee to lead Central Intelligence Agency

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Steven Clarke | 16 May, 2018, 17:55

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 September 11 attacks, the 30-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency won support from Virginia's Mark Warner, the intelligence panel's top Democrat.

Haspel's letter came after Republican Sen.

During her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel said she wouldn't restart the interrogation program.

Haspel's nomination has been controversial, with senators questioning her oversight in 2002 of a secret "black site" in Thailand where suspected terrorists were subjected to waterboarding and other torture techniques that were later banned.

"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", Gina Haspel said in written answers to more than 60 questions released by the Senate intelligence committee.

The tactics are widely considered torture, although proponents of the program, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, dispute that label.

The four Democrats supporting Haspel are: Warner, Manchin, Joe Donnelly of IN, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Among the Democrats who have come out backing Haspel is Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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The one person who might be able to stop the Senate from voting through President Trump's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency is stuck thousands of miles from the Capitol as a key committee prepares to vote on her nomination. The senator said he faced a "difficult decision" but felt Haspel was "forthcoming regarding her views on the interrogation program".

It was Haspel's reticence to say that the CIA's interrogation program was, in retrospect, morally wrong that sparked the Senate's authorities on torture - namely, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida also announced their support for Haspel on Tuesday.

Shortly after Warner announced his support, Sen.

Manchin is facing a tough re-election challenge this year in a deep-red state, and can't afford to be painted as soft of terrorism. In November, McCain convinced Manchin to vote against Steven Bradbury to become the general counsel of the Department of Transportation because of his role in crafting the memos that authorized the CIA's use of torture in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. John McCain - an Arizona Republican who was tortured during the Vietnam War - and Sen.

Trump himself has said the country should consider resuming the use of harsh interrogation techniques.

"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", said Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C.

But for Warner, and for the Democrats who followed his lead to also announce their support for Haspel on Tuesday, it was enough.

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