GOP wants speedy Haspel confirmation
Senate panel OKs nominee; Warner votes in her favor
WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate Intelligence Committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA director nominee, Gina Haspel, on Wednesday.
But opponents concerned about Haspel’s role in CIA covert detention sites after 9/11 could delay a vote by the full Senate until next week.
The committee voted 10-5 in Haspel’s favor, allowing for her expected confirmation to become the first woman to lead the CIA. Republican leaders in the Senate want to hold that vote before the end of the week, but she is opposed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and some Democrats who could object.
Haspel’s nomination has reopened debate about the CIA’s defunct program of detaining terror suspects overseas at secret lockups and trying to get them to talk by subjecting them to sleep deprivation and other harsh interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning. Haspel supervised one of those detention sites in Thailand, but details of her work there have not been declassified.
Her nomination was applauded by former top intelligence officials and spy professionals who cited her years of experience at the CIA in mostly undercover posts both in the United States and abroad. She is acting director.
During her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel said she doesn’t think torture works as an interrogation technique. “If confirmed as director, I would not allow CIA to engage in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques again,” she said.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the committee, called Haspel 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.
“She has acted morally, ethically and legally over a distinguished 30-year career and is the right person to lead the agency into an uncertain and challenging future,” Burr said.
Five Democrats on the committee voted against Haspel, but two gave her a nod. The committee’s topranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, said Haspel would be a strong advocate for the agency’s rank and file and an “independent voice who can and will stand up on behalf of our nation’s intelligence community.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who has staunchly opposed Haspel, said he would continue to seek the declassification of a Justice Department report about the destruction of more than 90 videotapes showing the harsh interrogation of one terror suspect.