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US Senate panel approves CIA nominee Gina Haspel despite torture background

US Senate panel approves CIA nominee Gina Haspel despite torture background

After the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday advanced Gina Haspel's nomination to direct the CIA despite the key role she played in agency's post-9/11 torture program, the full chamber is poised to offer its final approval-with the large majority of Republicans and at least five Democrats pledging to vote in favor-which critics are calling "an affront to human rights".

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell noted in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday that Haspel's 33 years in the CIA includes "firsthand experience gathering foreign intelligence in an era of great-power competition and hard-won expertise in counterterrorism operations and analysis". Wednesday, the president nominated Gina Haspel to be the next CIA Director.

During her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel said she doesn't believe torture works as an interrogation technique.

Her nomination, however, also was applauded by former top intelligence officials and spy professionals who cited her years of experience at the CIA in mostly undercover posts both in the United States and overseas.

Jones decision came on the same day Senators Mark Warner (D., Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) announced their support for Haspel, support expected to ensure her confirmation.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

In announcing his support Tuesday, Warner, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, said Haspel has been "professional and forthright" with the panel.

He is the same senator who staunchly and briefly opposed Mike Pompeo's nomination for secretary of state but then flip-flopped after a visit to the White House. Harris said Haspel running the CIA would not be the best "signal to the workforce of that agency, to the American people or to our neighbors around the globe".

However, all eight Republicans and two of the seven Democrats earlier expressed support for Haspel. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen.

Staberock also said that when Haspel goes around the world, she will have "zero authority" to speak against abuse and torture in other countries.

"It is regrettable that during her tenure at the CIA the agency engaged in so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques"; however, at that time, those methods were deemed legal", Flanders said.

"In refusing to denounce torture, Haspel is effectively signaling she does not recognise the constraints of the law, which prohibits waterboarding and other forms of cruelty", Sarah Dougherty, senior fellow of the group, said in a statement.

She has told Congress that the agency should not have used such harsh tactics and has vowed not to restart them. She did, however, tell senators she was an advocate for destroying the tapes to protect the identity of Central Intelligence Agency agents. In fact, Haspel's claims (in both the hearing and her follow-up answers) that torture did not appear on those tapes suggest that perhaps someone at the black site she ran had made the tapes unreadable in 2002. While Durham found there was not enough evidence to press charges against Haspel and her boss, Jose Rodriguez, public reports on his inquiry suggest that Haspel and Rodriguez short-circuited a review process that would not have approved the destruction.

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