Haspel CIA nom­i­na­tion looks as­sured after panel ap­proval.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN

Gina Haspel’s nom­i­na­tion as the next CIA di­rec­tor looked as­sured on Wed­nes­day, trig­ger­ing ques­tions over what changes she could bring to the CIA’s di­rec­tion and clout with Pres­i­dent Trump when she for­mally re­places Mike Pom­peo as di­rec­tor.

The long­time un­der­cover of­fi­cer on Wed­nes­day passed her first Se­nate hurdle to be­com­ing the first woman to lead the CIA, win­ning ap­proval of the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee after nav­i­gat­ing a lengthy de­bate over the agency’s harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­grams con­ducted on ter­ror sus­pects after 9/11.

The 10-5 vote saw two Democrats join Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing com­mit­tee Vice Chair­man Mark Warner, who said she’ll be a ca­pa­ble and in­de­pen­dent leader.

At­ten­tion now turns to the full Se­nate, which must vote on her nom­i­na­tion, but Mr. Warner’s sup­port cou­pled with ad­di­tional Democrats who pledged their back­ing, sig­nal she’s likely to be ap­proved.

After prais­ing Ms. Haspel as “the right woman at the right time” to head the CIA, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell on Wed­nes­day, said the cham­ber would soon vote on her “ex­pe­di­tiously” but he didn’t an­nounce a spe­cific date or time.

Ms. Haspel has more than three decades of ex­pe­ri­ence at the CIA and is the agency’s act­ing di­rec­tor and be­fore that deputy di­rec­tor.

Her nom­i­na­tion ear­lier this spring trig­gered a de­bate over whether the harsh post 9/11 in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram was necessary amid Amer­ica’s world­wide pur­suit of sus­pected ter­ror­ists — with crit­ics de­nounc­ing the tac­tics, which in­cluded wa­ter­board­ing, as tor­ture.

Many Democrats ar­gued her role in run­ning a “black site” prison in Thai­land and her knowl­edge of in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics used to ques­tion some ter­ror­ism sus­pects should have dis­qual­i­fied her from lead­ing the CIA.

Last week, that is­sue was front and cen­ter dur­ing her con­tentious pub­lic con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing be­fore the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee.

On Wed­nes­day, some of her crit­ics lashed out again, in­clud­ing Sen. Ron Wy­den, who called her nom­i­na­tion one of the most “self-serv­ing abuses of power in re­cent his­tory.”

The Ore­gon Demo­crat said that be­cause Ms. Haspel, as act­ing CIA di­rec­tor, was in a de­ci­sion-mak­ing role in de­ter­min­ing what parts of her un­der­cover ca­reer were de­clas­si­fied — thus “stack­ing the deck” in her fa­vor.

But her sup­port­ers were mov­ing on, ex­press­ing more en­thu­si­asm that in ad­di­tion to be­ing the first woman to run the agency in its 70-year his­tory, she will soon also be the first ca­reer clan­des­tine ser­vice of­fi­cer to serve as di­rec­tor since Richard Helms in the 1960s and William Colby in the 1970s.

For­mer CIA Moscow sta­tion chief Daniel Hoff­man said Ms. Haspel was “in a unique po­si­tion to strengthen the agency’s re­la­tion­ship with the State Depart­ment by virtue of the fact that she just worked very closely with Mike Pom­peo for the past year and a half at the CIA and he is now sec­re­tary of state.”

He also noted that her time as CIA deputy di­rec­tor for 15 months was in­valu­able.

“It was like an au­di­tion for her and she clearly ex­celled,” Mr. Hoff­man said. “She’s gained the trust of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, with­out ques­tion.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gina Haspel, Pres­i­dent Trump’s pick to lead the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency, passed her first hurdle to be­com­ing di­rec­tor. Now she must get a ma­jor­ity vote in the Se­nate to be con­firmed, which seems likely after get­ting two Demo­cratic back­ers.

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