Residents split on Central Intelligence Agency director nomination

Erika Holt
May 18, 2018

After weeks of controversy over Haspel's role in running the CIA black site in Thailand, in which prisoners were "questioned" under the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program authorized by George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the 33-year veteran edged a step closer to leading the agency after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted on Wednesday to advance Trump's nomination.

At her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel promised the Intelligence Committee that she would not restart the CIA's torture program, even if pressured to do so by President Trump.

"Gina Haspel is the most qualified person the president could choose to lead the CIA and the most prepared nominee in the 70-year history of the agency", said committee chairman Richard Burr.

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.

Republicans have a slim two-seat majority over Democrats in the Senate.

Doug Jones, D-Ala., said Tuesday in announcing his opposition to Haspel.

"Anyone who has carefully studied her record knows that she should be confirmed for three reasons: her qualifications, her character and the spurious nature of her critics" claims ...

"In refusing to denounce torture, Haspel is effectively signaling she does not recognise the constraints of the law, which prohibits waterboarding and other forms of cruelty", Sarah Dougherty, senior fellow of the group, said in a statement.

A US report in 2014 said CIA interrogation techniques were ineffective
A US report in 2014 said CIA interrogation techniques were ineffective

Haspel told senators she would defy a direct order from the president which she thought was immoral.

The 10-5 vote saw two Democrats join Republicans, including committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, who said she'll be a capable and independent leader.

The remaining five Democrats had said they would not back her nomination. Haspel was in charge of an interrogation site in Thailand in 2002 where Central Intelligence Agency officers had carried out waterboarding and other tactics when interrogating suspected al-Qaeda militants.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the world was watching the confirmation vote, which he called a "referendum on torture".

McCain is not expected to take part in Haspel's confirmation vote as he is in Arizona battling brain cancer.

American bourgeois "democracy" has been reduced, behind the threadbare trappings of parliamentary procedures, to a dictatorship run by a military/intelligence/industrial apparatus that operates outside of any legal restraints.

Haspel's nomination has been marred by her involvement in the CIA's torture program, which involved detaining suspected terrorists without due process and using torture techniques to obtain information. The split makes it crucial for Haspel to get support from the opposition to cross the 51 threshhold for confirmation. "My questions about Ms. Haspel's role in the destruction of videotapes relevant to discussions occurring in Congress regarding the program have not been adequately answered". Trump has said in the past that "torture works" and that he would consider using it again.

A letter from more than 100 former USA ambassadors said Haspel's confirmation would undermine diplomatic efforts to discourage torture by tyrants in other countries.

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