Haspel Now Has Clear Path to Become CIA Director

In this May 9, 2018 photo, CIA nominee Gina Haspel testifies during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. In a letter Tuesday to the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel says she would “refuse to undertake any proposed activity that is contrary to my moral and ethical values.”

By Published on May 15, 2018

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner announced Tuesday afternoon that he will vote “yes” on the nomination of Gina Haspel to become the next CIA director.

“Gina Haspel has served our country with dedication for 33 years. In many ways, her story is representative of the thousands of people at the Agency and throughout the intelligence community who serve quietly, without recognition, and often at great personal risk, in order to keep our nation safe from those who wish to do us harm,” Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, wrote in a statement Tuesday.

“I’m going to support Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the Director of the CIA. I also respect my colleagues who have made a different decision,” Warner wrote.

Haspel sent Warner a letter early Tuesday detailing the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation methods and its treatment of detainees. Haspel depicted the period as a mistake, but that the agency was able to obtain “valuable” information during that time.

“While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote Warner.

Warner’s vote is crucial for Haspel, given that GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is likely to vote against her and GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona is absent. Three other Democratic senators have come out in favor of Haspel — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

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Senators on the intelligence committee grilled Haspel earlier this month regarding her role in the post-9/11 interrogations and the 2005 destruction of video evidence of CIA agents waterboarding terrorist suspects. Haspel served as the chief of staff to Jose Rodriquez, the director of operations for counterterrorism, when he ordered the destruction of videotapes of waterboarding sessions. Haspel was reportedly in favor of destroying the evidence.

The CIA declassified a review that found “no fault with the performance” of Haspel in the destruction of the videotape evidence, which could help clear the air for senators who are troubled by her involvement in the matter.

Haspel said that if she was given the order again, she would not support it.

Haspel, if confirmed, will replace Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as the next director of one the nation’s top intelligence agencies. She would be the first female director in the agency’s more than 70-year history.

 

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