Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Gina Haspel Nominated for CIA Director, First Woman to Head the Agency

A former head of the CIA expressed his support Wednesday morning for Gina Haspel, the woman nominated by President Donald Trump to take over the spy agency.

Several key Republican senators say Haspel will have to answer for her role in the program at her confirmation hearing.

"Director Pompeo explained the CIA's creative, new methods that enabled the interdiction of certain shipments in violations of sanctions on North Korea", it said, citing a speech he gave in January.

"As has been well-documented, the former detention and interrogation program was authorized by President [George W] Bush six days after 9/11, reviewed and determined to be lawful by the Justice Department, and implemented by the CIA", the agency said past year in a statement. Unlike Pompeo, she hasn't been through a confirmation process and the thorough vetting it involves.

The White House on Wednesday touted the accomplishments of Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, who was tapped a day earlier to be the new top US diplomat.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a top Democrat on the Intelligence panel, said she'll have tough questions, even as she said she understands that Haspel has been a "good deputy" at the CIA.

Leon Panetta, who led the agency for two years during President Barack Obama's presidency and was also a chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, told CNN's "New Day" co-anchor Chris Cuomo that Haspel "really ought to be judged based on her entire record".

"I look forward to speaking again with Gina Haspel about the role she would play and how she would run the CIA", Feinstein said.

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"Torture doesn't just violate our values, it jeopardizes our nat'l security and puts our military at risk", Warren said in a tweet. She is also a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award.

Paul does not serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which would vet Haspel, although Sen. "Any nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency must pledge without reservation to uphold this prohibition". "He has downplayed Russia's attack on our democracy, at times contradicting the intelligence community he is supposed to lead".

In opposing the nominations, Paul pointed to Pompeo's hawkish stance on Iran, stating that he "cannot endorse [Trump's] nomination of people who loved the Iraq War so much that they want an Iran War next".

Pompeo's biggest challenge could come at the Foreign Relations Committee, where Republicans have a one-vote majority.

But her appointment could be opposed by all Democrats in the Republican-controlled Senate and will face close scrutiny in confirmation hearings.

Former CIA Director John Brennan declined to say what Haspel's exact role was in the interrogation program, but he told NBC that she has a "lot of integrity" and has tried to carry out her agency duties "when asked to do hard things in challenging times".

Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel, said Tuesday the top issue for him is the fact that the Trump administration has yet to levy sanctions on Russian Federation that Congress approved in August.

"Yet no sanctions have been levied", he said.

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