Senate confirms Trump's nomination for Central Intelligence Agency director

Senate confirms Trump's nomination for Central Intelligence Agency director

Kerry Wise
May 18, 2018

Gina Haspel has been confirmed as the next CIA director, making her the first woman to lead the intelligence agency.

Haspel herself also wanted to withdraw her nomination recently in the face of the concerns but somehow continued to win a confirmation from the Senate by 54-45.

Moving into a position previously occupied by Mike Pompeo - who himself moved on to serve the American public as Secretary of State - Haspel is a seasoned CIA operative who has served for 33 years with the agency. Haspel is now the CIA's deputy director.

Since Trump nominated Haspel, her confirmation has been clouded by debate over the CIA's former interrogation program.

Haspel was approved in spite of stiff opposition stemming from her links to the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered to be torture, in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

One of them, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, said Ms Haspel had told him the agency should never have resorted to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Two Republicans voted against her, while Republican Senator John McCain, who was tortured during years spent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, also opposed her nomination but is in Arizona battling brain cancer and could not vote. During her confirmation hearing, she told senators, "It is not my way to trumpet the fact that I am a woman up for the top job, but I would be remiss in not remarking on it - not least because of the outpouring of support from young women at Central Intelligence Agency who consider it a good sign for their own prospects". Overseas, we expect Haspel's torture record will raise demands for accountability worldwide.

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Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington nonapology". Most senators asked about them only in written questions after her confirmation hearing.

"She is intimately familiar with the threats facing our nation", the North Carolina Republican said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, echoed the sentiment of Haspel's opponents in the Senate. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Sen.

"While I respect Ms. Haspel's service and sacrifice, after meeting with her and reviewing classified documents, I do not think she is that person", McCaskill added.

Haspel may have possibly done her self some good when trying to get Senator Warner's vote as well.

She has won praise from Washington insiders - including Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, but faced tough questions on the Hill about her connection to sites where waterboarding took place.