Human rights groups decry confirmation of Haspel
- Willis Stokes
The U.S. Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be the country's first female director of the CIA, despite her ties to the agency's past controversial interrogation program. She cited Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had urged senators to reject Haspel for her role in the use of torture - "enhanced interrogation" in spy parlance - of terrorist suspects after the 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington. The full Senate vote comes on the heels of a contentious debate over her nomination, back-and-forth stemming from concerns over her reported role in the CIA's "black sites" - overseas prisons the agency used to hold and interrogate top al Qaedaterrorists, including waterboarding. Her involvement in ordering the destruction, in 2005, of 92 videotapes - some of which documented the interrogations - while serving as chief of staff to then-Director of the clandestine service Jose Rodriguez was also roundly criticized.
Haspel became the first woman to run the spy agency after a 33-year tenure which included filling in as the acting director. "Unfortunately, with this vote today the Senate chose to confirm a nominee who approved torture and destroyed evidence to hide these heinous acts from the American people", said Jim Cason, FCNL's Legislative Director for Foreign Policy.
Haspel's critics argued she still wouldn't say if she thought the interrogation program was immoral. He cast the final vote on the floor on Thursday, after Haspel's confirmation was a done deal.
Senator Ron Wyden of OR deserves our thanks for helping to lead the charge against Haspel's confirmation.
Haspel's nomination was contentious because of her role in a former Central Intelligence Agency program to brutally detain and interrogate terror suspects at covert sites overseas following September 11.
Baldwin says the fact that Gina Haspel wouldn't say torture is immoral disqualifies her for the position.
Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, which oversaw the nomination, supported Ms Haspel.
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"There is no greater or more hard task than protecting the safety and security of families of our great nation, and for that I am extremely grateful to every member of our intelligence community, including Ms. Haspel, who has spent decades in public service", said Senator Patty Murray in a statement following the vote.
Democrats who voiced their approval for Haspel before the confirmation hearing drew ire from their base, however. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, McCain's Arizona colleague, has said he's undecided.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the nomination was not just about Haspel but also about the USA grappling with its past mistakes.
The nomination came under fire for Haspel's past ties to the CIA's former rendition, detention and interrogation activities, carried out in the years following the September 11 attacks, with the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, now widely considered torture.
Rights groups quickly condemned the vote.
"The Senate has now rewarded that atrocious conduct by promoting someone that reportedly administered it to lead one of the government's most powerful agencies", said Daphne Eviatar at Amnesty International USA.
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