Senate confirms Trump's nomination for Central Intelligence Agency director

Senate confirms Gina Haspel to lead CIA, first woman to hold post

The Senate has confirmed Gina Haspel as the first female director of the CIA following a rocky nomination process that reopened debate about one of the darkest chapters in the spy agency's history.

One Republican, Rand Paul, refused to support Haspel's nomination and voted no. Senator John McCain and Senator Todd Young of IN were absent.

Haspel was undercover for her first 32 years at the agency, a status lifted just last year when she became deputy director to Pompeo.

Republicans had touted Haspel as the most qualified Central Intelligence Agency nominee ever, citing her years of work in unsafe places and in the stressful and fearful hours, days and weeks after 9/11, when a nation was braced for follow-on attacks and another kind of terror, that of the unknown.

"She is the right person to lead the courageous men and women of the CIA, has a clear-eyed vision for the future of the Agency, and I look forward to working with Ms. Haspel in the years to come to keep our country safe".

But the Democrats backing Haspel have pointed to her endorsement from a wide range of former intelligence officials, including top Obama administration officials, as well as an acknowledgment in a Tuesday letter that she believed the interrogation program was damaging and shouldn't have been conducted, something she didn't say at her public hearing.

"She has acted morally, ethically and legally over a distinguished 30-year career and is the right person to lead the Agency into an uncertain and challenging future", the committee's chairman, North Carolina Republican Richard Burr, said in a statement.

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". Ron Wyden, D-Ore., citing his "powerful and unimpeachable views" as reason to oppose Haspel's candidacy. She said Haspel hasn't still fully acknowledged that torture is wrong.

There have been voices in the Senate, too, over Haspel's appointment. Haspel drafted the cable that Rodriguez sent, which gave the order for the destruction of evidence.

She will succeed Mike Pompeo as director.

Rights groups quickly condemned the vote. "On behalf of the Intelligence Community, we salute Director Haspel, a trailblazer.", said Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence. Senator Ron Wyden of OR said on the Senate floor, "What I can say is her classified comments about her background have been as troubling as her public testimony". Haspel also received the support of the editorial boards of New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard.

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