Senate Panel Advances Haspel Nomination for Central Intelligence Agency

Gina Haspel, CIA pick, easily clears intel committee

Trump CIA pick Gina Haspel heads for confirmation amid resistance

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 Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to forward her nomination to lead the United States spy agency to the entire Senate, virtually assuring final approval of her nomination.

U. S. Sen. Mitch McConnell noted in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday that Haspel's 33 years in the CIA includes "firsthand experience gathering foreign intelligence in an era of great-power competition and hard-won expertise in counterterrorism operations and analysis".

But during her confirmation hearing last week, she said she doesn't believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her "strong moral compass" would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable. "The program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world", she wrote.

In the letter, seen as an attempt to sway undecided Democrats, Haspel condemned the CIA's past torture program and said the decision to begin such a program "is not one the CIA should have undertaken" and promising not to restart any torture program at the agency. John McCain of Arizona urged colleagues to reject the nominee over her past role in the CIA's 'enhanced interrogations'.

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Haspel, 61, is the acting CIA director, and she has yet to be confirmed by Congress after facing backlash from politicians over her intelligence career.

The full senate is expected to vote on Haspel's nomination next week. Several Democrats and at least one Republican say the full Senate should have access to a classified Justice Department report written by John Durham, the special prosecutor who investigated the destruction of the Central Intelligence Agency interrogation tapes but did not bring charges. She already has the backing of a number of Democrats, including Mark Warner of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelley of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Feinstein, investigated the CIA's interrogation and detainment program for terrorists in 2014.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Tuesday that Haspel's confirmation vote could come relatively soon. But with the support of most Republicans as well as that of Warner and at least three other Democratic senators, Haspel is likely headed toward confirmation by the full Senate.

"The torture of detainees in USA custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history", McCain said in a statement.

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