Senate committee votes on Gina Haspel’s nomination as CIA director

Gina Haspel, nominee to become the CIA’s first female director, is expected to get a nod from the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday after telling Congress that the agency shouldn’t have used harsh interrogation tactics after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The committee is holing a closed-door meeting to vote on her nomination.  

With five Democrats now publicly supporting her nomination, Haspel looks likely to breeze through a full Senate floor vote, which is expected to take place at the end of the week. Senators Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, announced last week that they would support Haspel’s nomination. On Tuesday, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner, D-Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, and Bill Nelson, D-Florida, publicly added their endorsements to her candidacy.

Haspel’s nomination has sparked renewed debate over brutal interrogation practices the CIA used on terror suspects after 9/11. Haspel was involved in supervising a secret CIA detention site in Thailand.

During her confirmation hearing last week, she said she doesn’t believe torture works as an interrogation technique and that her “strong moral compass” would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.

Haspel also said she would not permit the spy agency to resume its harsh interrogation program, which became one of the darkest chapters of the CIA’s history and tainted America’s image worldwide.

But she would not disclose any details of what she did in connection with the interrogation program or say whether she thought it had been immoral.

The Senate intelligence committee is expected to vote in closed session. The full Senate could hold a confirmation vote before the end of the week.

Already announcing their support for her were Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelley of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. The only Senate Republicans who are not expected to vote for her are Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Arizona’s John McCain, who is battling cancer and is not expected to be present for the ballot.

Haspel’s opponents, however, continue to weigh into the debate.

“Ms. Haspel is cynically trying to offer mere words in an attempt to win votes to support her confirmation,” said Gen. Charles Krulak, former commandant of the Marine Corps.

“The definition of moral courage is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons when no one’s looking. Gina Haspel failed that test,” said Krulak, who organized a letter signed by more than 100 retired generals and admirals expressing concern over her nomination.

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