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White House Crusades for Gina Haspel's CIA Confirmation

White House Crusades for Gina Haspel's CIA Confirmation
CIA Director-nominee Gina Haspel (Sarah Silbiger/AP)

By    |   Monday, 14 May 2018 06:16 PM

The White House continued its full-court press Monday to win the confirmation of acting CIA Director Gina Haspel, rolling out an impassioned endorsement from one of America's highest ranking intelligence officers urging the U.S. Senate to confirm her nomination.

A media conference call featuring Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon, a long-time CIA veteran who has had a bird's-eye view of Haspel's career for over three decades.

Gordon said Haspel "will speak truth to power," and described her as "solid and courageous and true."

Gordon added: "She doesn't lie about the truth to power thing, even when it's inconvenient, because she believes that you have to know the truth because it exists, even if you would prefer not to deal with it."

Haspel has served as acting CIA director since April, a role she assumed after President Trump nominated CIA Director Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. Pompeo was confirmed April 26.

If confirmed, Haspel would become the first female director of the CIA.

Several key senators have yet to announce how they will vote on the Haspel nomination, including Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Haspel's nomination has received widespread approval from those within the U.S. intelligence community. Former CIA director and NSA Michael Hayden told Newsmax "it is certainly true" the effort to track down Osama bin Laden would have taken longer without her contributions.

Hayden called her "a star player" in the U.S. intelligence community, and many other insiders share that view. On May 8, 72 former CIA officers sent a letter to lawmakers asking them to confirm her nomination, praising her as "a bold but pragmatic decision-maker."

Said Hayden: "Gina, as they say, went to the sound of the guns. She did her duty. She did it with the best legal advice that the Department of Justice could provide, and the best operational advice that the Central Intelligence Agency could give her, and she performed her work honorably."

Haspel's willingness to serve on the front lines of America's war on terror has come with a price, however. About a year after 9/11, she took charge of a CIA black site in Thailand where extraordinary interrogation measures including waterboarding were used.

She also played a role in the 2005 destruction of video tapes of interrogations, although in a December 2011 investigation, former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell concluded: "I have found no fault with the performance of Ms. Haspel," essentially because she was just following orders.

Last week, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., himself a victim of torture after his jet was shot down over North Vietnam, apparently felt Haspel had failed to demonstrate enough contrition for those episodes.

"Her role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing," McCain stated. "Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying."

On the conference call Monday, Newsmax asked Gordon to reconcile her strong endorsement of Haspel's character with McCain's broadside. Gordon professed "great respect" for McCain, adding, "In her confirmation hearing, Gina made clear that she believes America should be an example to the rest of the world – and that is why she supports holding ourselves to a stricter standard when it comes to interrogations.

"Gina also unequivocally testified that she would not allow CIA to undertake activity that she felt was improper – even if it was technically legal. Based off of our longstanding relationship, I take Gina at her word," she said.

If confirmed, Haspel would be the first career clandestine officer to become CIA director since William Colby in 1973.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's vote on the nomination could come later this week, and a full Senate vote is expected to come later this month.

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Rolling out an impassioned endorsement from one of America's highest ranking intelligence officers urging the U.S. Senate to confirm Gina Haspel's nomination, the White House continued its full-court press Monday to win her confirmation as CIA director.
gina haspel, senate, confirmation, waterboarding, dni, sue gordon
Monday, 14 May 2018 06:16 PM
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