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Gina Haspel set to become first female director of Central Intelligence Agency

18 May, 2018, 13:55 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Sen. Jeff Flake

Virginia Senator Mark Warner on Thursday was one of a handful of Democrats to vote in favor of Gina Haspel as CIA Director.

US President Donald Trump had named Gina Haspel as the new Director of the CIA in a tweet in March as he announced that the previous director of the CIA Mike Pompeo will be taking over the role of US Secretary of State from Rex Tillerson.

Gina Haspel's nomination as CIA director was met with strong opposition among U.S. lawmakers, as she was suspected of having been involved in the agency's use of extreme interrogation methods.

But the issue that hung over Ms. Haspel's entire nomination process, her role running a secret Central Intelligence Agency "black site" prison in Thailand and her knowledge of interrogation tactics used there, including waterboarding, also surfaced repeatedly before Thursday's vote.

Haspel was CIA station chief in Thailand in 2002 when the agency conducted harsh interrogations including waterboarding of suspected terrorists at secret "black site" facilities overseas following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Democratic Senators that followed Warner's vote of Yea were, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

She is the first operations officer in more than five decades - and the first-ever woman - to be named to the role. Despite opposition from three Republicans, she won the position with a vote of 51-43, after gaining the votes of six key Democrats. "Specifically, the law provides that no individual in U.S. custody may be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach that is not authorised by and listed in the Army Field Manual", she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union attacked Haspel's confirmation as "a complete disgrace to our democracy". But Leahy said he still questioned her judgment and lamented that she has never publicly condemned torture as "immoral".

Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jeff Flake of Arizona were the two Republicans who voted against Haspel.

Haspel once oversaw a so-called black site in Thailand after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. "I have asked again and again for some justification for Ms. Haspel's self-serving classification decisions and every response I have received, in classified and unclassified settings, has convinced me further that those decisions have nothing to do with protecting sources and methods, and only to do with protecting her own image".

Supporters cited Haspel's 33-year career at the agency. The only absentee from the 100-member chamber was Republican John McCain, who is undergoing brain cancer treatment.

"The Senate has now rewarded that atrocious conduct by promoting someone that reportedly administered it to lead one of the government's most powerful agencies", said Daphne Eviatar at Amnesty International USA.



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