McCain urges senators to reject Gina Haspel's Central Intelligence Agency nomination

President Donald Trump touted Haspel's nomination on Twitter

If confirmed, Ms. Haspel would be the first female head of the spy agency. "It is a subject that a week doesn't go by that, either, the President asks for an expert briefing or Secretary Mattis asks for someone to brief him on China issues", Ms. Haspel said responding to a question from Senator Marco Rubio.

Her technical explanations rang hollow to some in a time when torture is now almost universally condemned in Washington.

Haspel said, too, that she "conducted myself honorably and in accordance with US law", and that she understands "the difference between right and wrong" when senators challenged her over why she went along with a program most now liken to torture, and the agency's efforts to cover it up. Their sole concern is that the elevation of Haspel will undermine Washington's ability to wave the phony flag of "human rights" in justifying future acts of aggression.

"What I believe sitting here today is that I support the higher moral standard we have chose to hold ourselves", said the agency nominee. The Senators are also being limited in what they can ask Haspel about.

Though she has deep experience, her nomination is contentious because she was chief of base of a covert detention site in Thailand where terror suspects were waterboarded.

A lengthy report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, released publicly in 2014, concluded the CIA's interrogation techniques were not an viable means of gaining intelligence, and that the agency's justification for using them "rested on inaccurate claims of their effectiveness". I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. Instead, she defended the torture of terrorism suspects during a fraught time after the September 11 attacks when the agency was focused on preventing more attacks. But, neither she nor senators spent much time exploring the topic during the hearing.

Her supporters include former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper; the White House has even touted the support of the administration critics while pushing for Haspel's confirmation.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) asked Haspel at the hearing, "Do you believe that the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?"

Many Democrats have also spoken out against her nomination. His view represents that of most of his fellow Republicans.

Haspel's involvement in the torture program, and the destruction of evidence of that torture program, raises a lot of concerns about how valuable her "strong moral compass" really is. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., fresh off a primary victory, became the first Democrat (and first Democratic member of the committee) to endorse her, putting her one vote away from certain confirmation. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has said his "no" vote will be because Haspel "participated in and helped develop the program that our own government has labeled torture", and Sen.

Although McCain is unlikely to cast a floor vote on Haspel, as he is out of Washington receiving treatment for a rare and serious form of brain cancer, his opinion carries particular symbolic weight, as a war hero who was tortured in Vietnam.

So: Has Haspel's willingness to swim upstream against her moral code changed?

"To be as safe as we have in a troubled world, a unsafe world, with a terrorist's mentality, I want to thank you on behalf of every West Virginian in this country for the job you all do", Mr. Manchin said. Other conservative Democrats may as well.

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