Local

Senate Confirms Gina Haspel As The 1st Female CIA Director

The Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday as the first female director of the CIA following a difficult nomination process that reopened an emotional debate about brutal interrogation techniques in one of the darkest chapters in the spy agency’s history.

The 54-45 vote split both parties, with six Democrats joining most Republicans in support. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is battling brain cancer, was absent for the vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called President Donald Trump’s choice of Haspel to lead the agency “the right woman at the right time.”

McConnell steered the confirmation swiftly past opponents, including the ailing McCain, whose long-distance rejection of the nominee over her role in the CIA’s torture program hung over an impassioned debate.

Ahead of voting, McConnell said Haspel “demonstrated candor, integrity, and a forthright approach” throughout the confirmation process and “has quietly earned the respect and admiration” of intelligence community leaders at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and abroad.

Supporters cited Haspel’s 33-year career at the agency. Former top intelligence officials said she earned the chance to take the helm of the intelligence agency.

But Haspel’s nomination was contentious because of her role in a former CIA program to brutally detain and interrogate terror suspects at covert sites abroad following 9/11.

Her opponents said it wasn’t right to promote someone who supervised a black site in Thailand. They said the U.S. needs to close the book forever on the program that marred America’s image with allies abroad.

Several senators said Haspel was not forthcoming in answering questions about her role in the torture program or the CIA’s decision to destroy videotaped evidence of the sessions. They also had questions about her rejection of the now-banned techniques.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a floor speech that Haspel “offered up almost the classic Washington nonapology.”

He asked how the Senate could take seriously Haspel’s “conversion on torture.”

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

Among Democrats supporting Haspel are several who are up for re-election this fall in states where Trump is popular, including Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sen. Bill Nelson in Florida. Other Democrats voting yes were Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

Other Trump-state Democrats, though, including Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, opposed the nominee. Most other Democrats, including those eyeing presidential runs in 2020, voted against Haspel in what may become a defining issue for Democrats.

Jones said this week that “it’s just hard to get over” the torture issue.

A protester in the Senate visitor gallery briefly disrupted speeches ahead of the vote with shouts against the CIA.

Haspel, 61, is a native of Kentucky but grew up around the world as the daughter of an Air Force serviceman. She worked undercover for nearly all her three decades at the CIA in Africa, Europe and classified locations around the globe. Haspel, who learned Turkish and Russian, was tapped as deputy director of the CIA last year. She worked under former CIA director Mike Pompeo until President Donald Trump moved him to secretary of state. She has been serving as acting director.

Haspel received robust backing from former intelligence, diplomatic, military and national security officials. Among those who supported her nomination were six former CIA directors — Porter Goss, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, George Tenet, William Webster and Mike Hayden — and three former national intelligence directors — James Clapper, Mike McConnell and John Negroponte.

On the opposing side are groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which says she should have stood up against the interrogation practices then. More than 100 former U.S. ambassadors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents sent the Senate a letter opposing Haspel, saying that despite her credentials, confirming her would give authoritarian leaders around the world the license to say U.S. behavior is “no different from ours.”

(AP)

Click to add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Local

More in Local

56e23c62935d558460e806c3722e42f3.jpg

WILD TURKEY: Turkey Strikes Back, Taxing $1.8 Billion Worth Of US Goods

adminJune 21, 2018
396ecfbaa19bb12b0716168542134022.jpg

WATCH THIS: Valet Parking At Boro Park Wedding Hall Searching Car For Things To Steal

adminJune 21, 2018
1e5aa572051a261b98bdf6ab74ff4d25.jpg

Iran Lists Demands For Improving Relations With US

adminJune 21, 2018
21ce153838c8b88795744cee6efc24a0.jpg

Trump’s Immigration Order Sparks Confusion, Deep Concern

adminJune 21, 2018
543afc703b8d194ecc5c98d6de6c5ec2.jpg

INDICTED: Two People Charged for April Crash that Killed Yisroel Levin & Elisheva Kaplan

adminJune 20, 2018
f32f37f810c36e7c37b0792d73185a9e.jpg

IDF And Shin Bet Arrest 22 PA Residents Suspected Of Terrorist Activities

adminJune 20, 2018
11f54e7b7771e16447f90e139925a46b.jpg

Crown Heights: Two Brooklyn Thugs Charged With Assault As Hate Crime In Unprovoked Attack on Lubavitcher Student

adminJune 20, 2018
52d8f8d6d52381adbfad1d24464f7ad6.jpg

Former Israeli Minister Gonen Segev Arrested And Indicted For SPYING FOR IRAN

adminJune 18, 2018
fae95b18d182e762bf07d450960d5d44.jpg

FOUND: Missing Lakewood Cheder Children Found In Wooded Area Behind Home

adminJune 18, 2018