Arizona's Flake opposes Haspel for Central Intelligence Agency chief

Senate confirms Gina Haspel to lead CIA, first woman to hold post

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Committee on Intelligence May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

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

Haspel was undercover for her first 32 years at the agency, a status lifted just last year when she became deputy director to Pompeo.

"Gina Haspel is among one of the most qualified people to be nominated to be director of the CIA", Warner said.

Her nomination moved from the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday in a 10-5 vote. "She has acted morally, ethically, and legally, over a distinguished 30-year career and is the right person to lead the Agency into an uncertain and challenging future".

Baldwin says the fact that Gina Haspel wouldn't say torture is immoral disqualifies her for the position. John McCain, who urged senators to reject her.

"I would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA", Haspel testified.

"She has earned the respect of the agency workforce, of her peers, of Republicans, of Democrats, of military officers, of civilian security leaders, evidenced by the number of letters received in support of her nomination too numerous to read", Burr said on the Senate floor.

But Haspel also drew fierce criticism from former generals, admirals and diplomats for her role in the CIA's now-outlawed torture program, which took place during the George W. Bush administration after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.

Haspel's supporters cited her 33-year career at the agency. New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said that she was satisfied with Haspel's acknowledgment that the CIA's "enhanced interrogation program" harmed moral leadership and wouldn't be used again.

Three Republicans opposed Haspel's nomination: Sens.

All eight Republicans and two of the seven Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee earlier expressed support for Haspel. And they expressed frustration that the Central Intelligence Agency - and Haspel herself - refused to make public a full accounting of her Central Intelligence Agency career and her role in the interrogation program.

"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", Flake said in a statement announcing his opposition.

But Senate Democrat Elizabeth Warren insisted Haspel's past connection to practices now widely seen as torture should sound the alarm bell. The Senate confirmed Haspel, 54 to 45.

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