US Senate panel approves Haspel as new Central Intelligence Agency chief despite torture claims

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The Senate intelligence committee is expected to vote in closed session.

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.

Haspel pledged at her confirmation hearing that she would never restart the program, in place in the years after the September 11, 2001 attacks, but did not go as far as saying it should not have been started.

The favorable recommendation comes after Haspel told Congress, in a letter sent to Warner on Monday, that she now feels the spy agency should not have employed the harsh interrogations program used on al Qaeda detainees that included waterboarding.

'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 ran a black-site prison in Thailand where a high-level terrorist was detained and tortured in 2002.

While she said she now disagrees with the operations, she declined to take issue with her predecessors' decisions - and said the torture sometimes produced useful information.

"Gina Haspel is probably the most certified individual the President may select to guide the Central Intelligence Agency and probably the most ready nominee within the 70 12 months historical past of the Company", Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., stated in an announcement.

She is a career intelligence official, but her nomination has been controversial because she was involved in the CIA's post-9/11 program of detaining and harshly interrogating terror suspects.

With two of 51 Republicans committed to voting against Haspel, and five Democrats already indicating they will support her, it appears she is set to become the agency's first female director. "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", said committee chairman Richard Burr.

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"I believe [Haspel] is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral-like a return to torture", Warner said in a statement.

"While I won't condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world", Haspel continued.

The vote for Haspel is shaping up to be similar to last month's tally for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was confirmed with the backing of six Democrats from states Trump won in 2016, five of whom are up for re-election this year.

But for Warner, and for the Democrats who followed his lead to also announce their support for Haspel on Tuesday, it was enough.

Trump has said the country should consider using the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Among those who opposed Haspel's confirmation is the ailing John McCain, who is a senior member of the ruling Republicans and the party's presidential nominee in 2008.

"Ms. Haspel's involvement in torture is deeply troubling, as my friend and colleague, John McCain, so eloquently reminded us".

McCain's warning resonated with several critics of the president, including his fellow Arizona Republican Sen.

When Haspel offered to withdraw her name from consideration, as the Washington Post reports she did during a White House meeting in early May, her offer should have been gratefully accepted.

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