Gina Haspel is flawed choice to lead Central Intelligence Agency

Friday, 18 May, 2018

Despite the opposition of Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, the United States Senate today voted to confirm torturer Gina Haspel to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, further harming the United States' worldwide standing and handing Donald Trump another victory.

"The CIA, under Ms. Haspel, has also conducted an unprecedented influence campaign to promote her confirmation".

During the hearing, Haspel defended her past actions and refused to criticize her colleagues for their tactics at the time.

It voted on Thursday by 54-45 after a tough nomination process.

Senator Marco Rubio said: "With her unparalleled CIA experience, she will hit the ground running and continue to lead the world's finest intelligence agency".

Her extensive intelligence career at the agency began in 1985 and includes more than 20 different job titles most of which remain classified. Trump has referred to her fondly as "our Gina" and pushed hard for her confirmation, but it's not clear whether she can forge the same close relationship with the president as her predecessor, Mike Pompeo, who is now secretary of State.

The 61-year-old's counter-terrorism work in 1998 led to the arrests of two key al Qaeda members following the deadly bombings at USA embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Haspel previously served as Pompeo's deputy.

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.

"Zubayadah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide", The Times reported. She also moved to deploy more CIA officers overseas to recruit agents, collect intelligence and commit espionage.

Learning Russian and Turkish, in the 1990s she worked in Eastern Europe, and was Central Intelligence Agency station chief in a country reported as Azerbaijan.

Veteran intelligence officials praised Trump's decision to name Haspel deputy director in February 2017, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

Haspel may have possibly done her self some good when trying to get Senator Warner's vote.

Meanwhile, two Senators who don't have to worry about answering to red-state voters during an election year extended their support for Haspel.

"She provides advice based on facts and analysis of facts ..."

"That's hypothetical", she said.

"After 9/11, I didn't look to go sit on the Swiss desk".

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel walks to meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, May 7, 2018. Most other Democrats, including those eyeing presidential runs in 2020, voted against Haspel in what may become a defining issue for Democrats.