Heitkamp to support Haspel for top Central Intelligence Agency job

Lester Mason
May 16, 2018

Gina Haspel, a veteran CIA clandestine officer picked by U.S. President Donald Trump to head the Central Intelligence Agency, is shown in this handout photograph released on March 13, 2018.

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

McCain, a war hero who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is one of just two Republicans who have announced they will vote against her.

The full Senate is expected to vote next week, and Haspel now appears to have sufficient support to win confirmation, replacing Mike Pompeo, who has become secretary of state. Haspel has vowed not to restart such a program, but has declined to disclose details about her involvement. The remaining five Democrats had announced their opposition.

During her confirmation hearings, she refused to condemn the program, but did make a statement indicating that the agency should not have undertaken its interrogation program in which al Qaeda detainees were tortured after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

The CIA's post-9/11 enhanced interrogation program that Haspel was involved with, as well as torture methods and waterboarding, have been contentious topics generally split along party lines. Some of Ms. Haspel's past actions and beliefs did not meet that standard.

The four Democrats supporting Haspel are: Warner, Manchin, Joe Donnelly of IN, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

Haspel testified at a Senate hearing that torture does not work as an interrogation technique and that, as director, her strong "moral compass" would ensure she did not carry out any administrative directive she found objectionable. But he added, "I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the president if ordered to do something illegal or immoral - like a return to torture".

Nelson, on the fence until now, has seen some re-election pressure Tuesday to vote for Haspel, with Republican opponent Gov. Rick Scott putting out an ad accusing him of being too party-line Democrat, and theNational Republican Senatorial Committee running digital ads in Florida encouraging voters to urge him to support her nomination. Nearly all Senate Republicans are likely to vote for Haspel.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who was beaten as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, has urged colleagues to reject the nominee over her past role in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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