Senate Intelligence Committee approves "black site" torturer to head CIA

May 18, 2018, 13:59
Senate Intelligence Committee approves

Veteran spy Gina Haspel will become the first female director of the CIA after six Democrats joined Republicans in a Senate confirmation vote on Thursday that overrode concerns about her role in the spy agency's harsh interrogation program after 9/11. In our opinion, she is exactly the right person to make sure our country has the valuable foreign intelligence needed to keep national leaders well informed so that they can properly protect the American people.

Two of the committee's seven Democrats have said they are supporting Haspel, including Virginia's Sen.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington non-apology". Haspel, who has spent almost all of her 33-year Central Intelligence Agency career in undercover positions, is the first career operations officer to be confirmed since William Colby in 1973.

Haspel also faced questions over a cable she wrote in 2005 ordering videotapes of the waterboarding to be destroyed. "While I thank Ms. Haspel for her long and dedicated service to the CIA, as a country we need to turn the page on the unfortunate chapter in the agency's history having to do with torture".

The panel voted 10-5 in favor of Gina Haspel in a closed session Wednesday.

Moreover, Obama and his CIA Director John Brennan sought to quash the Senate torture report, blocking its release for two years and illegally hacking into the computers of Intelligence Committee staff who were drafting the final version. They said they voted for Haspel because they thought her experience was essential in confronting today's threats from USA adversaries like Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.

Haspel's nomination moved ahead despite stiff opposition - including from at least three of Trump's fellow Republicans - over her part in the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered torture, in the years after the September 11 attacks. John McCain, R-Ariz., who did not vote because he had surgery to battle his brain cancer.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the world was watching the confirmation vote, which he called a "referendum on torture". We need someone like Haspel who doesn't play the game because she understands just how awful the price can be.

Her opponents argued that it wasn't right to promote someone who supervised a covert detention site in Thailand where terror suspects were waterboarded, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning. "Ms. Haspel's apparently clear path of confirmation", it wrote, "essentially ends a cycle of debate about the agency's use of torture after the September 11 attacks..."

"There is a legal and moral responsibility that comes with operating in secrecy", Sen.

Jeff Flake of Arizona, announced his opposition to Haspel. Trump, on the other hand says waterboarding and "a lot more" is what he demands.

Haspel had already picked up Democratic support and appears on a path to confirmation. Considering the GOP's slim 51-49 majority, Democrats could easily block the nominee, a career intelligence officer who would make history as the first woman to lead the CIA.

A letter from more than 100 former US ambassadors said Haspel's confirmation would undermine diplomatic efforts to discourage torture by tyrants in other countries.

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