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16 May 2018, 09:50 | Erica Roy
Trump CIA pick Gina Haspel heads for confirmation amid resistance
Amid an intensifying public debate on torture, PresidentDonald Trump's pick to head the CIA on Tuesday said the interrogation program the agency ran at black sites after the September 11 attacks should not have been undertaken.
"Gina Haspel is the most qualified person the President could choose to lead the CIA and the most prepared nominee in the 70 year history of the Agency", Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in a statement. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who, believing Haspel had been "more forthcoming" in private meetings, gave her a second chance to say more clearly and in writing that "the enhanced interrogation program is not one the Central Intelligence Agency should have undertaken" and that "the United States must be an example to the rest of the world".
"With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken", she told Warner in the letter dated Monday.
"The United States must be an example to the rest of the world, and I support that", she said in her letter.
Her defenders said she is highly qualified to run the agency and was following orders in the environment that followed the deadliest terrorist attack in USA history.
Haspel testified at a Senate hearing that torture does not work as an interrogation technique and that, as director, her strong "moral compass" would ensure she did not carry out any administrative directive she found objectionable. The remaining five Democrats had announced their opposition.
She also had the support of the committee's top-ranking Democrat, Sen. The only Senate Republicans who are not expected to vote for her are Kentucky's Rand Paul and Arizona'sJohn McCain, who is battling cancer and is not expected to be present for the ballot.
The Democrats who have elected to vote for Haspel have all cited the confidence she has of the agency's rank-and-file and the broader intelligence community.
Haspel said in her confirmation hearing that she would disobey any order from Trump to revive such techniques.
'Most importantly, ' he added, 'I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral - like a return to torture'.
At the request of Congress, the CIA has declassified documents shedding light on Haspel's career in covert operations, particularly in her reported role at the agency's "black site" in Thailand. Senator John McCain of Arizona said her role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing.
But she would not disclose any details of what she did in connection with the interrogation program or say whether she thought it had been immoral.
"Whereas I will not condemn people who made these laborious calls, and I've famous the precious intelligence collected, this system in the end did harm to our officers and our standing on the planet", Haspel continued. "However, Ms. Haspel explained to me that the agency should not have employed such tactics in the past and has assured me that it will not do so in the future", Sen.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Gerald Staberock, secretary general of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), said Haspel's expected confirmation is a "terrible message by the U.S. that torture is not a crime".
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