Senate panel approves Gina Haspel as CIA chief

By Sara Shayanian  |  May 16, 2018 at 11:33 AM
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May 16 (UPI) -- The Senate intelligence committee voted Wednesday to advance the nomination of Gina Haspel as CIA director, setting up a full vote in the upper chamber.

The committee's eight Republicans were joined by Democratic Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Joe Manchin of West Virginiain voting for Haspel. The vote was 10-5 in her favor.

The full Senate will next vote the nomination next week, which could happen as early as Thursday.

If confirmed, Haspel will become the first permanent female director of central intelligence. She would replace Mike Pompeo, who is now secretary of state..

Despite growing opposition in recent weeks, it appears Haspel has enough support to win confirmation. Warner was one of three Democrats Tuesday who said they would vote for her, bringing the total to five.

Among Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain oppose her appointment and Sen. Jeff Flake said he is undecided.

Last week, Haspel faced tough questions from the intelligence committee about her role in past CIA interrogations and controversial techniques, like waterboarding. She was also asked about a "black site" in Thailand. Senators also pressed her about the destruction of 92 CIA interrogation videotapes.

The American Civil Liberties Union slammed the vote Wednesday, saying the committee's endorsement is an "embarrassment" to democracy.

"Senate Intellingence voted to reward a dark, criminal chapter of our country's history when it shouldn't have agreed to a vote until Haspel's full torture record was made public," the ACLU tweeted. "As Haspel's nomination moves to the full Senate, other senators should do the job the committee failed to."

Panel Chairman Richard Burr, though, called Haspel "the most qualified person" to lead the agency.

"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," he said.

McCain, a vocal critic of torturous interrogation methods, called Haspel's role "disturbing."

Haspel's nomination has been opposed by more than 100 retired U.S. generals and admirals.

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