Top US Senate intelligence Democrat backs Trump CIA nominee

Gina_Haspel

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Wednesday to advance the nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director, setting up a confirmation vote in the full Senate that Haspel is poised to win.

Gina Haspel passed her first Senate hurdle to becoming the first woman to lead the CIA, winning approval of the intelligence committee Wednesday morning.

The full Senate is expected to vote on Haspel's confirmation next week.

Haspel testified at a Senate hearing that torture does not work as an interrogation technique and that, as director, her strong "moral compass" would ensure she did not carry out any administrative directive she found objectionable. The committee's eight Republicans were joined by Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. This week, she went further, saying "the enhanced interrogation program is not one the Central Intelligence Agency should have undertaken".

The vote was 10-5 to recommend Haspel's confirmation.

"While her career has been impressive, Ms. Haspel's role in programs that conducted torture is very troubling; her refusal to acknowledge the immorality of such conduct even today with the benefit of hindsight is even more so and reflects poorly on our nation's reputation as a moral leader in the world". The remaining five Democrats had announced their opposition.

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Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., will support Haspel as well, his office said.

"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.

Haspel said that if she was given the order again, she would not support it. In November, McCain convinced Manchin to vote against Steven Bradbury to become the general counsel of the Department of Transportation because of his role in crafting the memos that authorized the CIA's use of torture in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

But opponents of Haspel's nomination lament that McCain's fellow Republicans are paying little heed to the Navy veteran's warnings about Haspel. Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of IN have also indicated they will vote for her, making the vote at least close.

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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