Senate intelligence committee to advance Haspel's CIA nomination

By Sara Shayanian  |  May 15, 2018 at 1:52 PM
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May 15 (UPI) -- The Senate intelligence committee is poised to advance Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director Wednesday, setting up a confirmation vote in the full Senate.

The vote will take place in a closed session, and Haspel is expected to receive "yes" votes from at least nine of the committee's 15 members -- gathering support from all eight Republicans and at least one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

Last week, Haspel faced tough questions about her involvement in past CIA interrogations during her confirmation hearings. She was asked about her oversight of a secret "black site" in Thailand where prisoners were interrogated. Senators also pressed Haspel about her role in the 2005 destruction of 92 videotapes showing CIA agents waterboarding prisoners.

"I would never allow the CIA to be allowed to be involved in corrosive interrogations," she said when asked about controversial interrogation methods.

Haspel also vowed she would "never, ever take the CIA back to an interrogation program" or put agency officers at risk by ordering "controversial activity."

If confirmed, Haspel would become the CIA's first permanent female director.

The 33-year agency veteran's role in interrogation programs has drawn opposition from political and military leaders, including Sen. John McCain, who called on the Senate to reject the nomination.

VoteVets, a progressive veterans group, urged lawmakers to "stand with John McCain" Tuesday in a new television ad against Haspel's nomination.

"Stand with John McCain against torture. Block Haspel," it says, adding that Haspel supporters are "insulting" the longtime Arizona senator's military legacy.

The ad also follows reports that a White House staffer joked about McCain's failing health, saying his opposition to Haspel doesn't matter because "he's dying anyway."

Some Republicans have criticized the White House for its response to the remarks.

"Just out of common decency they should apologize. And the person who said it should apologize. It's wrong," Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said.

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