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Haspel, the first wo­man to serve in the position, is con­firmed in spite of some sen­a­tors hav­ing mis­giv­ings about her role in the agency’s de­ten­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­grams fol­low­ing the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror at­tacks.

WASHINGTON — The Se­nate con­firmed Gina Haspel on Thurs­day to lead the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, el­e­vat­ing a wo­man to the di­rec­tor­ship for the first time de­spite bi­par­ti­san mis­giv­ings about her role in the agency’s brutal de­ten­tion and in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­grams in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Haspel, the cur­rent deputy di­rec­tor and a career clan­des­tine of­fi­cer, takes the helm at a time of shift­ing al­liances and in­tel­li­gence threats from Iran to North Korea to Russia, and af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tried to cast doubt on the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity’s judg­ment as part of his broader at­tack on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion.

But it was Haspel’s past that trans­fixed sen­a­tors — if only for a few weeks — as they grap­pled anew with the ag­gres­sive in­ter­ro­ga­tion poli­cies of the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion in the years af­ter the ter­ror­ist at­tacks. Haspel su­per­vised a se­cret prison in Thai­land in 2002 when an alQaida sus­pect was wa­ter­boarded there and sen­a­tors raised fresh ques­tions about her role in the agency’s de­struc­tion of video- tapes of in­ter­ro­ga­tion ses­sions in 2005.

Democrats and a hand­ful of Repub­li­cans pressed Haspel to re­pu­di­ate the pro­gram and sought as­sur­ances that tor­ture would not be revisited un­der her watch. Haspel told sen­a­tors dur­ing her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing that her moral com­pass was strong and that she would not re­visit such a pro­gram. And Tues­day, un­der in­tense pres­sure, she went fur­ther, writ­ing that the pro­gram “did dam­age to our of­fi­cers and our stand­ing in the world.”

In the end, those as­sur­ances were enough to win over a hand­ful of skep­ti­cal sen­a­tors. Two Repub­li­can no votes — and op­po­si­tion from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the vic­tim of tor­ture in Viet­nam who was not present for the vote — were more than off­set by six Democrats, most of whom rep­re­sent states Trump won in 2016. Haspel also won over Sen. Mark Warner of Vir­ginia, the top Democrat on the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, who had led the in­ter­ro­ga­tion of her record. She was con­firmed 54-45. Haspel is set to take over a spy agency that has man­aged to keep a low pro­file un­der Trump in re­cent months. He was sharply crit­i­cal of U.S. in­tel­li­gence agencies be­fore tak­ing of­fice, even com­par­ing them to Nazis at one point. But Haspel’s pre­de­ces­sor, Mike Pom­peo, who is now sec­re­tary of state, built a warm rap­port with the pres­i­dent.

In­side the agency, Pom­peo had a more mixed rep­u­ta­tion. He won praise for pro­mot­ing agency vet­er­ans, in­clud­ing Haspel, who served as his deputy, and for push­ing Trump to al­low the CIA to take on more ag­gres­sive covert op­er­a­tions. But Pom­peo’s overt pol­i­tics — he had been a fire­brand Repub­li­can House mem­ber be­fore tak­ing over the CIA — made many there un­easy that their work could be in­fected by po­lit­i­cal con­cerns.

Haspel is free of that par­tic­u­lar bag­gage. Her nom­i­na­tion was seen by many at the CIA as the best chance the agency had to avoid hav­ing a po­lit­i­cal par­ti­san brought in as its di­rec­tor.


Haspel was con­firmed 54-45 by the Se­nate and was ap­proved by six Democrats.

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