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.
After Trump went for former Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo as the USA secretary of state to replace Rex Tillerson, the position became vacant and he nominated Haspel to fill it. Haspel, 61, is associated with the Central Intelligence Agency for three decades now and has built her career as an operative, functioning overseas as a head spy in secret torture cells. "On behalf of the Intelligence Community, we salute Director Haspel, a trailblazer.", said Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence. As recently as 2017, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights asked Germany to authorise an arrest warrant against Haspel for her role in Zubaydah's torture.
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However, her nomination was widely condemned after it was revealed she oversaw a torture program in the early 2000s and played a part in the deletion of interrogation footage. "I need to have confidence that the person running it has the instincts and judgment to make decisions in line with our country's moral compass", McCaskill said, explaining her vote.
"No one has ever been held accountable for the torture program and I do not believe those who were intimately involved in it deserve to lead the agency", Feinstein said in a statement after voting against Haspel.
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But for many in the Senate, such as Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner, Haspel's dark history didn't matter. Had all the Democratic senators stuck together, Haspel would not have been confirmed today. Despite opposition from three Republicans, she won the position with a vote of 51-43, after gaining the votes of six key Democrats. 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. Joe Donnelly of IN and Sen.
Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, are opposed to Haspel's nomination, and McCain isn't expected to be back in Washington for the vote while he battles brain cancer. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen. Haspel now has more than enough support to win confirmation, as Warner was one of three Democrats to announce Tuesday that they were voting for her, bringing the total to five. Bill Nelson (FL), Sen.
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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".