Second Democrat Comes Out in Support of Gina Haspel

Geneva Stokes
May 14, 2018

As a Senate staffer involved in establishing the first postwar congressional oversight over US intelligence agencies, it has been astounding to observe Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) not only bury the full Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA's torture program - but then lead a shuttered confirmation process for a new CIA director who was intimately involved in running the program. The other, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), said Haspel has "great character" and is "supremely qualified" to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. DN! speaks to Laleh Khalili, professor at SOAS University of London and author of "Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies".

"She followed the law, she's a consummate professional", Portman said.

Donnelly is running for re-election in a state that Trump won by more than 19 points. "And I don't think we should reward someone who's involved in that", Paul said. "I have also reviewed her record and her testimony before Congress", Donnelly said.

Haspel has run into criticism because she was once involved in the CIA's harsh interrogation program.

Lawmakers grilled Gina Haspel this week in a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Donnelly, who met with Haspel on Thursday, said in a statement that he had "a tough, frank, and extensive discussion" with her, both about her vision for the agency and about its past use of "enhanced" interrogations against terrorist captives, including methods such as waterboarding that are widely considered torture.

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The GOP holds a 51-to-49 edge, and Vice President Mike Pence can break a possible tie.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky already declared he'd vote "no" on Haspel.

That assessment prompted a White House aide to joke that McCain, who was diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer in 2017, is "dying anyway" and his opposition to Haspel does not matter.

Over the past few days, Mike Braun, the Republican nominee for Senate in IN, attacked Donnelly for being undecided on Haspel's nomination and playing a political game with his vote, the Washington Free Beacon reported. During his presidential campaign, Trump openly advocated returning to the torture of terrorism suspects conducted by the Bush administration during the hysteria following the 9/11 attacks.

Haspel's confirmation had been complicated by an intent to vote "no" by Sen. If confirmed, she would become the first woman to lead the agency.

McConnell, who sets the Senate's agenda, has said he looks forward to a full Senate vote soon to confirm her. He says the program was necessary to keep the United States safe from attacks and that he doesn't think the techniques used amounted to torture.

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