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' global standing and handing Donald Trump another victory.
Haspel was approved despite stiff opposition over her links to the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered torture, in the years after the September 11 attacks.
The vote, which ran contrary to four other Democratic senators running for re-election in states Trump won in 2016, set off an immediate tweet storm from Republicans who signaled they will make that vote and others she's made against Trump nominees an issue in Missouri's Senate election this year.
Haspel's supporters cited her 33-year career at the agency. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
She also said she agreed with the 2017 findings by USA intelligence agencies that the Russian interference was aimed at hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton and ultimately at helping Trump win. "Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying", McCain said.
Republicans now have several McCaskill votes against key Trump nominees, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, to take to Missouri voters in November.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington nonapology".
Yet, probably understanding she needs to win the lawmakers, Haspel promised to be good in the future.
She will succeed Mike Pompeo as director.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that Americans don't really know the truth about Haspel's background because the Central Intelligence Agency refused to declassify records that would have revealed exactly what she did. "Gina Haspel is the right woman at the right time", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. Her reported oversight, in 2002, of a secret "black site" in Thailand - where detainees were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding - generated widespread controversy and ardent condemnation from civil rights groups. Many Democrats have expressed concern about Haspel's nomination.
Democrats who opposed Haspel's confirmation focused on the interrogation program.
That record, and Haspel's answers at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last week, attracted some Democrats, including the ranking Democrat on that committee that oversees the CIA, Mark Warner of Virginia. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
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. The Senate has now rewarded that atrocious conduct by promoting someone that reportedly administered it to lead one of the government's most powerful agencies.