Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA director, first woman to lead agency

Haspel, facing allegations from opposition Democratic Senators and human rights bodies for her alleged role in CIAs interrogation program post 9/11, was confirmed by the Senate by 54-45 votes, after six Democratic senators supported her nomination.

US President Donald Trump heavily endorsed Haspel's appointment in March, after he set in motion former director Mike Pompeo's move to Secretary of State.

Beyond Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, and Nelson, who will be targeted relentlessly by Trump and GOP forces regardless of their vote for Haspel, there were two Democratic senators who tokenized Haspel and were proud to overlook her torture past because they could say they backed the First Woman CIA Director Ever.

More than 100 former United States ambassadors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents sent the Senate a letter opposing Haspel, saying that despite her credentials, confirming her would give authoritarian leaders around the world the license to say U.S. behavior is "no different from ours".

An undercover officer for most of her CIA career, Haspel in 2002 served as CIA station chief in Thailand, where the agency conducted interrogations at a secret prison using methods including sleep deprivation, holding suspects in stress positions and confining them to coffin-size boxes.

Several Democrats sharply disagreed, alleging that as acting Central Intelligence Agency director, Haspel engineered an incomplete disclosure of her record to senators and the broader American public. Last week McCain issued a powerful statement opposing Haspel's candidacy, calling her role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans "disturbing". The only absentee from the 100-member chamber was Republican John McCain, who is undergoing brain cancer treatment.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington nonapology".

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Earlier this month, Trump slammed the criticism of Haspel, saying she was being targeted "because she was too tough on Terrorists".

He asked how the Senate could take seriously Haspel's "conversion on torture".

"She is intimately familiar with the threats facing our nation", the North Carolina Republican said. "On behalf of the Intelligence Community, we salute Director Haspel, a trailblazer.", said Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence.

Haspel has vowed never to restart such a program and says her "strong moral compass" would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.

U.S. Sen John Cornyn, R-Texas, was among her supporters.

When Trump nominated Haspel for the post, damning reports surfaced-which later proved to be false-about her tenure at the prison.

  • Sonia Alvarado