US Senate panel approves CIA nominee Gina Haspel despite torture background

Gina Haspel, CIA pick, easily clears intel committee

Gina Haspel, CIA pick, easily clears intel committee

Haspel, now the CIA's deputy director, has come under fire from Democrats over her role in the agency's post-9/11 era interrogation and detention practice.

Gina Haspel is set to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

The confirmation vote by the full Senate could occur before the end of the week.

Haspel's nomination has come under fire for her past ties to the CIA's former rendition, detention and interrogation activities, carried out in the years following the September 11 attacks, with the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, now widely considered torture.

This week Haspel had picked up a few crucial Democratic votes which would get her confirmed on the Senate floor, despite opposition from GOP Sen.

In a letter dated May 14 to Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel wrote that the interrogation program "is not one the CIA should have undertaken".

The Virginia senator said in a statement Wednesday that Haspel 'will be a strong advocate for the Agency's workforce, and an independent voice who can and will stand up on behalf of our nation's intelligence community'. However, in a move that's been called "beyond shameful", five Democrats-Sens. "Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying".

What's prevented her from being a shoo-in for the top job is her role at the center of one of the federal government's most sickening and indefensible programs, a brutal interrogation regime that used torture against terrorism suspects after the September 11 attacks.

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Her nomination now goes to the full Senate for confirmation.

The favorable suggestion comes after Haspel advised Congress, in a letter despatched to Warner on Monday, that she now feels the spy company shouldn't have employed the tough interrogations program used on al Qaeda detainees that included waterboarding.

"With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken", according to Haspel's written answers to some 60 additional questions from lawmakers. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted today to recommend her confirmation to the full Senate.

She joined the agency's Counterterrorism Center on September 11, 2001, the day when Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked and crashed four USA airliners, leaving nearly 3,000 dead.

If she passes confirmation, Haspel would become the first female director in the agency's history of over 70 years.

Two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, are against Haspel's nomination. And in 2005, under her boss's direction, she drafted a cable ordering the agency to destroy more than 90 videotapes of its interrogation of that man. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), siding with their Republican colleagues.

"This country has not held any officials accountable for the use of torture, so it's even more outrageous that the government is considering someone to the chief intelligence position in spite of her alleged participation in that clearly illegal and immoral activity", she said.

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