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18 May 2018, 09:38 | Bernice Figueroa
Haspel Confirmed As CIA's First Female Director
The Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to lead the CIA, lofting the agency's acting director into history as the first woman to head America's top intelligence service.
CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel arrives at her confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Committee on Intelligence in Washington on May 9, 2018.
A 33-year-veteran of the agency, Ms Haspel, 61, spent most of her career as an undercover operative.
"She is the right person to lead the courageous men and women of the CIA, has a clear-eyed vision for the future of the Agency, and I look forward to working with Ms. Haspel in the years to come to keep our country safe". Her reported oversight, in 2002, of a secret "black site" in Thailand - where detainees were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding - generated widespread controversy and ardent condemnation from civil rights groups. Some senators expressed reservations about Haspel being the president's pick, citing previous interrogation tactics utilized by the Central Intelligence Agency under her watch as senior leader in the Counterterrorism Center in the early 2000's.
But several Democrats expressed worry that Haspel might not stand up to the president who in 2016 told supporters that "torture works" and that he would like to see interrogation techniques "tougher than waterboarding".
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington nonapology". Among those who supported her nomination were six former CIA directors - Porter Goss, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, George Tenet, William Webster and Mike Hayden - and three former national intelligence directors - James Clapper, Mike McConnell and John Negroponte. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member of the intelligence committee. She was later involved in the destruction of videotapes of those interrogations.
When Trump nominated Haspel for the post, damning reports surfaced-which later proved to be false-about her tenure at the prison. Haspel is widely respected as a disciplined, non-political field agent. Most other Democrats, including those eyeing presidential runs in 2020, voted against Haspel in what may become a defining issue for Democrats.
There have been voices in the Senate, too, over Haspel's appointment. "I was not on the sidelines, I was on the frontlines in the Cold War and I was on the frontlines in the fight against Al Qaeda", she said in response to a question from Sen. "I also believe it is important to hold Gina Haspel's nomination to a similar standard as previous nominees for this position, particularly in regards to responsibility for the CIA's use of torture following the 9/11 attacks", Shaheen proclaimed.
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