State, CIA picks face tough con­fir­ma­tion

Tor­ture his­tory dogs CIA nom Haspel

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON, March 14, (Agen­cies): Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion isn’t ex­pected to go as smoothly for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s new se­lec­tions for sec­re­tary of state and CIA di­rec­tor as they did last year.

Se­nate Democrats — and some top Repub­li­cans — are slow-walk­ing the process amid fresh ques­tions over the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s stance to­ward Rus­sia and the CIA’s dark his­tory of tor­ture.

Trump’s fir­ing of Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son touched off a con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle that will play out ahead of midterm elec­tions, which de­ter­mine party con­trol of Congress.

Trump’s pick to re­place Tiller­son, CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo, is ex­pected to be asked about his loy­alty to Trump and his ap­proach to­ward Rus­sia.

And Trump’s choice to re­place Pom­peo at the CIA, Gina Haspel, is likely to be asked about her role in the CIA’s in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram.

Mean­while, CIA di­rec­tor nom­i­nee Haspel could face a tough con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle af­ter a num­ber of law­mak­ers raised ques­tions Tues­day about her past in­volve­ment in tor­ture of de­tainees.

A vet­eran of the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency’s black op­er­a­tions, Haspel, 61, was nom­i­nated by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to lead the top US es­pi­onage body, af­ter he named cur­rent CIA di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo to be sec­re­tary of state.

Haspel is widely re­spected in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity as a dis­ci­plined, non-po­lit­i­cal field agent who took on hard­ship po­si­tions and un­sa­vory jobs. From that she rose to man­age the global clan­des­tine net­work be­fore be­com­ing deputy di­rec­tor one year ago.

But her his­tory dur­ing the US “war on ter­ror,” over­see­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tions in CIA black sites later ex­posed as tor­ture, has al­ready set back her ca­reer once and could stand in the way again.

Sev­eral se­nior politi­cians said they would chal­lenge her over tor­ture, en­sur­ing a likely heated de­bate when she goes up be­fore the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee for con­fir­ma­tion in the com­ing weeks.

“The tor­ture of de­tainees in US cus­tody dur­ing the last decade was one of the dark­est chap­ters in Amer­i­can his­tory,” said Repub­li­can Se­na­tor John McCain, who him­self was tor­tured as a pris­oner of war in North Viet­nam.

“Ms Haspel needs to ex­plain the na­ture and ex­tent of her in­volve­ment in the CIA’s in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram dur­ing the con­fir­ma­tion process.”

“Ms Haspel’s back­ground makes her un­suit­able to serve as CIA di­rec­tor,” said Demo­cratic Se­na­tor Ron Wy­den.

Haspel would be the first woman ever to run the CIA. She joined in 1985 and served as chief of sta­tion in sev­eral posts around the world.

In 2013, she was named to head the Na­tional Clan­des­tine Ser­vice. But she was quickly re­placed af­ter po­lit­i­cal ques­tions were raised over her role in post-9/11 in­ter­ro­ga­tions.

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