Senate Intelligence Panel Approves Gina Haspel as CIA Director

Gina Haspel, CIA pick, easily clears intel committee

"Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed many in saying at her confirmation hearing this week that Haspel is 'without a doubt, the most qualified person the president could have chosen to lead the CIA, and the most prepared nominee in its 70-year history'".

Also on Wednesday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, from McCain's home state of Arizona, said he would be a "no" vote when the full Senate decides on Haspel, citing the interrogation program and Haspel's drafting of a cable ordering the destruction of videotapes of interrogations.

The favorable recommendation comes after Haspel told Congress, in a letter sent to Warner on Monday, that she now feels the spy agency should not have employed the harsh interrogations program used on al Qaeda detainees that included waterboarding.

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

All eight Republicans and two of the seven Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee earlier expressed support for Haspel.

Haspel has not disclosed any details of what she did in connection with the interrogation program or say whether she thought it had been immoral.

Haspel served in several positions at the agency during her 30-year career including deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, chief of staff for the Directorate of Operations and chief of station for multiple stations in Europe and Eurasia.

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Rand Paul (Ky.)-are openly opposing Haspel. Of those six Democrats, four have said they are voting for Haspel, Sen.

Senator Richard Burr, the committee's Republican chairman, said in a statement that Haspel is the best person to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, saying she "has acted morally, ethically, and legally" during her career. Democratic lawmakers and other opponents of Haspel have turned to Twitter to demand its release with the hashtag #UnlockDurhamReport.

Haspel supervised one of the covert detention sites in Thailand where suspects were harshly interrogated.

But the Democrats backing Haspel have pointed to her endorsement from a wide range of former intelligence officials, including top Obama administration officials, as well as an acknowledgment in a Tuesday letter that she believed the interrogation program was damaging and shouldn't have been conducted, something she didn't say at her public hearing. The full Senate could hold a confirmation vote before the end of the week. "Allowing her to now run the CIA will only invite even more distrust and suspicion of what is going on behind the scenes at the agency".

"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", Warner said in explaining his decision to vote for her.

The interrogation program became one of the darkest chapters of the CIA's history and tainted America's image worldwide after the September 11 attacks.

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