Se­nate af­firms Haspel nom­i­na­tion to lead in­tel­li­gence agency.

In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer will be first woman to lead 70-year-old agency

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN This ar­ti­cle was based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports

The Se­nate con­firmed Gina Haspel on Thurs­day to lead the CIA, loft­ing the ca­reer in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer into his­tory as the first woman to head Amer­ica’s top spy ser­vice.

Ms. Haspel was ap­proved on a 54-45 vote, but only af­ter nav­i­gat­ing a lengthy de­bate over her role in the agency’s harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion and de­ten­tion pro­grams con­ducted on terror sus­pects af­ter 9/11, which crit­ics say amounted to tor­ture. The vote was also a vic­tory for Pres­i­dent Trump, whose pick at­tracted a num­ber of red-state Democrats to put her over the top.

Ms. Haspel for­mally re­places Mike Pom­peo as CIA di­rec­tor and will be the first ca­reer clan­des­tine ser­vice of­fi­cer pro­moted from within to over­see the agency since Wil­liam Colby in the 1970s.

In de­bate be­fore the vote, Se­nate In­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee Chair­man Richard Burr praised the depth of her ex­pe­ri­ence.

“She is in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with the threats fac­ing our na­tion,” the North Carolina Re­pub­li­can said. “Where oth­ers can dis­cuss world events, Gina Haspel has lived those events. She has no learn­ing curve.”

But the is­sue that shad­owed Ms. Haspel’s en­tire nom­i­na­tion process, her role run­ning a se­cret CIA “black site” prison in Thai­land and her knowl­edge of in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics used there, in­clud­ing wa­ter­board­ing, also sur­faced re­peat­edly be­fore Thurs­day’s vote.

The fi­nal tally was the clos­est vote for a CIA nom­i­nee in nearly seven decades, since the law was changed to re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

Vir­ginia Sen. Mark Warner, the rank­ing Demo­crat on the in­tel­li­gence panel, sup­ported her but also said, “Amer­i­cans have a duty to look squarely at our mis­takes and to not sweep them un­der the rug, but to learn from them, and in the fu­ture do bet­ter.”

The low-key Ms. Haspel se­cured Mr. Warner’s cru­cial sup­port only days be­fore the vote, when she sent him a let­ter de­nounc­ing the con­tro­ver­sial in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram af­ter fail­ing to clar­ify her stance on the mat­ter dur­ing a con­tentious pub­lic con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing last week.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Whip John Cornyn, Texas Re­pub­li­can, and Sen. Tom Cot­ton, Re­pub­li­can Arkansas, called Democrats’ ob­jec­tion to her in­volve­ment in the pro­gram hypocrisy, be­cause Ms. Haspel was only a mid-level ca­reer CIA em­ployee when it was be­ing run in the years af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks.

A raft of for­mer top in­tel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­als, serv­ing un­der both Re­pub­li­can and Demo­cratic pres­i­dents, pro­vided a big boost to Ms. Haspel’s nom­i­na­tion, amid re­ports that John Bren­nan and Leon Panetta, both of whom served as CIA di­rec­tor un­der Pres­i­dent Obama, con­tacted sev­eral Demo­cratic sen­a­tors to lobby on her be­half.

Only two Repub­li­cans — Sens. John McCain of Ari­zona and Rand Paul of Ken­tucky — came out against Ms. Haspel, and they were more than can­celed out by five Democrats who joined Mr. Warner to vote yes for Ms. Haspel.

The sup­port­ive Democrats in­cluded sev­eral on the bal­lot in red states this fall, in­clud­ing Sens. Joe Manchin of West Vir­ginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Don­nelly of In­di­ana and Bill Nelson of Florida. Demo­cratic Sen. Jeanne Sha­heen of New Hamp­shire also backed the nom­i­nee.

Mr. McCain was ab­sent from the con­fir­ma­tion vote be­cause he was home bat­tling brain can­cer. A vic­tim of tor­ture as a POW dur­ing the Viet­nam War, Mr. McCain had urged his Se­nate col­leagues to block Ms. Haspel’s con­fir­ma­tion.

Ms. Haspel, 61, is a Ken­tucky na­tive who grew up around the world as the daugh­ter of an Air Force ser­vice­man. She worked un­der­cover for nearly all her three decades at the CIA in Africa, Europe and clas­si­fied lo­ca­tions around the globe.

Flu­ent in Turk­ish and Rus­sian, Ms. Haspel was tapped as deputy di­rec­tor of the CIA last year. She worked un­der for­mer CIA di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo until Pres­i­dent Trump nom­i­nated him to be sec­re­tary of state. She has been serv­ing as act­ing di­rec­tor.


Gina Haspel will re­place Mike Pom­peo as CIA di­rec­tor. While the vote mostly fell along party lines, five Democrats voted for Ms. Haspel. Only two Repub­li­cans came out against her be­cause of her role in run­ning a se­cret CIA “black site” prison in Thai­land.


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