Trump's CIA Pick Faces Senate Grilling

"There was very deep concern about potential contacts, and we continue to monitor this very closely, between extremists and Pakistani nuclear scientists", Gina Haspel, US President Donald Trump's nominee for CIA director told the members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee during her confirmation hearing yesterday. Ms. Haspel said: "I would not allow undertake activity that I thought is immoral, even if it is technically legal". She served as deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, and chief of staff for the director of the National Clandestine Service. She became deputy director of the entire agency past year and is now its acting director.

"I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense", McCain said. However, Politico reports that there are still a few undecided senators who might be swayed by McCain's statement, including fellow Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, Democrats Doug Jones and Claire McCaskill, and Republican Mike Lee.

In addition to overseeing torture, Haspel is deeply implicated in its cover-up, playing a key role in the decision to secretly shred 92 videotapes of the abuse meted out to detainees at the Thailand black site.

Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed later asked Haspel how she would "determine" waterboarding to be "immoral" if it were done to a captured Central Intelligence Agency officer. "I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination".

During Wednesday's hearing, U.S. Sen.

What Haspel now says she wouldn't do sounds a whole lot like what Haspel did do, so far as we can tell with limited information: Carry out a program of ineffective, inhumane and illegal interrogation, under the cover of flimsy, technical legality. "I remember the operative who was in charge of that", Haspel said.

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"Do you believe the previous techniques, now armed with hindsight - do you believe they were immoral, yes or no?"

The president drew harsh criticism during the 2016 campaign when he disputed that McCain is a war hero, saying he prefers war heroes "who weren't captured". She said she had a "great reputation" with the president and his inner circle, adding that "the president does turn to me for my view on certain countries and certain experiences". The agency learned "tough lessons" during "that tumultuous time", Haspel said, and that theexperiencereinforced her "personal commitment, clearly and without reservation", not to restart the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

McCain, who is at home in Arizona recovering from surgery and treatment for cancer, will not be casting a vote on Haspel. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who embraced Haspel before she took her seat for questioning, said he would vote for her. Manchin said in a statement she was "supremely qualified" for the job.

Haspel said she would put more intelligence officers in the field overseas and says there has been an outpouring of support from young women at the CIA who hope she becomes the first female CIA director.

Haspel didn't talk about ultimatums or engage in hypotheticals about storming out of the Oval Office or offering her resignation.

  • Stacy Houston