The US Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be director of the CIA, ending a bruising confirmation fight centred on her ties to the spy agency's past use of torture. The controversial practice, which simulates drowning, has been likened to torture but supporters say it has helped extract valuable information from hardened terrorists.
The vote Thursday broke down largely along party lines. Among those who supported her nomination were six former CIA directors - Porter Goss, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, George Tenet, William Webster and Mike Hayden - and three former national intelligence directors - James Clapper, Mike McConnell and John Negroponte. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel declined to say whether she would recuse herself from that role but insisted she had not interfered with standard agency declassification processes. They said they voted for Haspel because they thought her experience was essential in confronting today's threats from USA adversaries like Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.
"I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me", Haspel said in a statement.
Those speaking out in favor of Haspel's candidacy - like Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va. - cited, among other things, the huge support for Haspel from within the CIA.
"I acknowledge that this has been a hard decision", Warner said in a statement earlier this week announcing his support for Haspel.
Haspel once oversaw a so-called black site in Thailand after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida.
Gina Haspel's nomination as CIA director was met with strong opposition among United States lawmakers, as she was suspected of having been involved in the agency's use of extreme interrogation methods. This is why American public and the Senators did not know much about her before President Trump picked her up for this job role. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Jeff Flake of Arizona and John McCain of Arizona, although McCain did not vote because he's battling brain cancer at home. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking member of the intelligence committee.
The nomination was Haspel, who previously held the position of first Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was nominated by the President of the United States Donald trump. "Gina Haspel is the right woman at the right time".
Meanwhile, two Senators who don't have to worry about answering to red-state voters during an election year extended their support for Haspel.
Rights groups quickly condemned the vote.
"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", said Daphne Eviatar at Amnesty International USA.