Sen. John McCain on Wednesday urged the Senate to reject Gina Haspel as President Donald Trump's nominee to head the CIA because her "role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing."
"I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense," McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
"However, Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing.
"Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying," McCain said. "I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination."
Haspel, 61, who was nominated to head the agency in March by Trump, testified in open and closed confirmation hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.
She testified if she is confirmed by the Senate, the CIA would not undertake such harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding and others were used after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Haspel, currently the CIA deputy director, would replace Mike Pompeo, who is now Secretary of State.
She has come under fire for overseeing a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 where terror suspects were tortured.
Haspel also reportedly helped destroy dozens of videotapes that showed such techniques used on suspects.
"The CIA has learned some tough lessons, especially when asked to tackle missions that fall outside our expertise," Haspel told the panel.
"For me, there is no better example of implementing lessons learned than what the agency took away from the detention and interrogation program."
McCain, 81, who is recovering in Arizona from brain cancer treatments, was held in captivity for nearly six years after his Navy plane was shot down by the Viet Cong in October 1967.
He was held in North Vietnam's "Hanoi Hilton" prison, where he was repeatedly tortured. He spent two years in solitary confinement.
In his statement, McCain said that Haspel's testimony "provided an opportunity to provide details about her experience in the CIA, explain her involvement in the so-called enhanced interrogation program during the Bush Administration, and account for the mistakes the country made in torturing detainees held in U.S. custody after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Unfortunately, the testimony the American people heard from Ms. Haspel today failed to address these concerns," the senator said.
"Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked.
"I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm.
"I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty," McCain said.
"But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world."
But President Trump praised Haspel's testimony before the Intelligence Committee as "spectacular" on Twitter:
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