Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Arts&Culture | By Antoinette Montgomery

Senate backs torture site chief Gina Haspel to take helm of Central Intelligence Agency

Senate backs torture site chief Gina Haspel to take helm of Central Intelligence Agency

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he will support Haspel because she had satisfied his concerns in public and behind closed doors about her views regarding the CIA's so-called enhanced interrogation program, which she helped oversee in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

Already announcing their support for her were Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelley of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

President Trump's pick to lead the CIA Gina Haspel picked up endorsements from key Democrats Tuesday ahead of a confirmation vote expected later this week. She said "valuable intelligence" was collected from the interrogation program but that it ultimately did damage to the CIA's reputation.

Haspel's comments went beyond her testimony at her confirmation hearing last week, when she repeatedly refused to disavow techniques such as waterboarding as immoral or ineffective. The Senate Intelligence Committee found that wasn't true in its 2014 report on the interrogation program.

A career intelligence officer and now acting director, Haspel faces ongoing questions over her work running a covert detention site where terror suspects were brutally interrogated.

Haspel also told Warner that it "was a mistake not to brief the entire committee at the beginning" of the interrogation program.

Taking aim at Warner's credulous acceptance of the narrative spun by Haspel and the CIA-which has waged an unprecedented propaganda campaign in support of her candidacy-author and activist Naomi Klein asked, "Do these people not understand that it is the actual job of a spy to deceive people?"

Haspel's confirmation has been a hard fight because of her role in the interrogation program, which critics say amounted to torture.

In the letter, Haspel said she would "refuse to undertake any proposed activity that is contrary to my moral and ethical values". I will be meeting with her next week.

In her letter, Haspel said "the United States must be an example to the rest of the world, and I support that".

"Due to the overwhelming public evidence suggesting Haspel's participation and compliance with crimes including torture, enforced disappearance, and obstruction of justice, Haspel's nomination is an affront to human rights".

In announcing his support, Warner said Haspel has been "professional and forthright" with the intelligence committee. "I urge you to take immediate action to remedy these problems", Warner said.

"Ms. Haspel's role in the program that conducted torture is very troubling", Jones wrote. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, and Haspel is expected to pass with approval. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. A Senate floor vote is likely next week, though it's possible it could be as soon as Thursday. The group of Democrats would put Haspel's nomination over the top, even if Sens.

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