The Senate confirmed Gina Haspel as CIA director, making her the agency’s first female leader.
Haspel, who has three decades of experience at the agency under her belt, was confirmed as the new CIA director on Thursday. Most Republicans were in favor of Haspel, while most Democrats were not, meaning Haspel needed to sway undecided Democrats in order to be confirmed due to Republicans having a slim majority in the Senate.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) joined the majority of Republicans in the narrow 54-45 vote.
The opposition towards Haspel was due to her role in the CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation program. The program involved using techniques, such as waterboarding, that were later deemed as torture. Haspel’s involvement included overseeing a secret prison in Thailand where the CIA used “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Among the few Republicans who opposed was Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). McCain was tortured while held in captivity during the Vietnam War and has been an influential voice on the issue.
“Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. ” wrote in a statement regarding the nomination of Haspel. “Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.”
In the end, not even McCain’s opposition could stop Haspel from being confirmed.
“There is no question that she is qualified to serve as our next CIA director—if not the most qualified CIA director we’ve ever had,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “Not only does she have support from both sides of the aisle, as well as former CIA directors serving under both Republican and Democratic administrations, but she is fully committed to the rule of law and the model of integrity and humility.”
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