Heitkamp to support Haspel for top Central Intelligence Agency job

Wednesday, 16 May, 2018

The Senate Intelligence Committee gave President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA, Gina Hasepl, a positive recommendation Wednesday.

In a letter to Sen. The full Senate could hold a confirmation vote before the end of the week.

The nominee to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, said in a letter that the spy agency should not have undertaken a harsh interrogation campaign, which included waterboarding terrorism suspects, following the September 11, 2001, attacks. Facing questions about her fitness for the job partly because of her role in overseeing a secret Central Intelligence Agency prison, Haspel stopped short of condemning the interrogation program on ethical grounds.

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

Haspel received a vital endorsement this week from the intelligence committee's top Democrat, Sen.

The Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 behind closed doors to approve the nomination, which was expected after two of its seven Democratic members, Vice Chairman Mark Warner and Joe Manchin, both said they would join the panel's eight Republicans in backing Haspel.

During her confirmation hearings, she refused to condemn the program, but did make a statement indicating that the agency should not have undertaken its interrogation program in which al Qaeda detainees were tortured after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Haspel's opponents included more than 100 retired admirals and generals, who said her role in the CIA's use of torture would encourage foreign governments to torture American soldiers and provide propaganda for extremists who want to attack the USA. Her maneuvering with Warner came as the Trump administration worked overtime to attract support for her.

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. "He specifically mocked Democrats" concerns about waterboarding, saying it was a "minor form" of torture and that the U.S.

Haspel testified at a Senate hearing that torture does not work as an interrogation technique and that, as director, her strong "moral compass" would ensure she did not carry out any administrative directive she found objectionable.

Most likely now that she has the votes to be confirmed, or in the off chance to cast the deciding vote against her, U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon announcing his decision to vote against Haspel.

Last week, Haspel said she would not permit the spy agency to restart any kind of harsh detention and interrogation programmes.

King and other senators are still pushing the Trump administration to allow all senators access to a Justice Department report detailing Haspel's role in ordering the destruction of tapes that showed waterboarding in 2005.