WASHINGTON – Gina Haspel, president of Trump's nominee to head for the CIA, wants to face tough questions from senators Wednesday
The focus of the Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing will be on Haspel's Oversight in 2002 at a secret "black site" in Thailand where suspected terrorists were being exposed to water boarding and other harsh interrogation techniques.
The 61-year-old Kentucky native is likely to promise that, if confirmed, she wants to oppose any efforts to revive the torture techniques used during the George W. Bush administra tion after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against America.
Gina Haspel is a career CIA official and would like to be the first woman to head the agency. But her involvement in operating CIA "black sites" during the Bush administration is controversial.
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That may be enough to advance from the committee, but it's not clear if it wants to win a majority of senators.
Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Said he will oppose Reel because of her role in the torture. John McCain, R-Ariz., Is undergoing treatment for brain cancer and may not be available to vote. McCain was a prisoner of torture who was tortured by the Viet Cong, and he questioned Reel's involvement in torture. No Democrats have come out in favor of reel.
President Obama banned torture in 2009, and Congress passed that prohibition into law in 2015. President Trump told ABC News in January 2017 that he "absolutely" believes that torture "works" and would consider using it again if the CIA director and defense secretary wanted to do so.
If confirmed, Haspel would be the first woman to lead the spy agency. She would replace Mike Pompeo, who was confirmed by the Senate as the new secretary of state. Reel was named acting CIA director April 26 after serving as CIA's deputy director for about 14 months.
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee compliments that the CIA is "covering up" Reel's record by refusing to release information.
"It's Completely unacceptable for the CIA to declassify only material that's favorable to Gina Haspel, while at the same time stonewalling our efforts to declassify the torture program, "said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Last month, the CIA released a memo from 2011 showing that deputy director Michael Morell cleared reel of any wrongdoing in the destruction in 2005 of videotapes that showed prisoner Abu Zubaydah
Zubaydah, a Saudi citizen, was waterboarded 83 times, suspended from hooks in the ceiling and forced into a coffin for hours at a time, according to a 2014 report by the Intelligence Committee on the CIA's use of torture.
Zubaydah of being a top-level al-Qaeda terrorist, US official acknowledgment that he was not a leader. He remains in the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Morell's memo stemmed from a disciplinary review of Reel's role in the video tapes' destruction. Morell wrote that he "found no fault with the performance of Ms. Reel," even though she drafted an order to destroy the tapes. Morell said, "Who's the chief of the CIA's clandestine service."
"It's not her decision to destroy the tapes," Morell wrote in the declassified memo. He said reel "acted appropriately."
More than 50 former national security officials – from Democratic and Republican administrations – endorsed Gina Reel in a letter to the Intelligence Committee in early April. They included former CIA directors John Brennan, Leon Panetta, George Tenet and Michael Hayden. James Clapper, Obama's director of national intelligence and outspoken critic of Trump.
"Given the nature of CIA's mission, most of her achievements can not be shared," her supporters wrote.
Reel has the support of committee chairman Richard Burr, RN.C., who
Haspel's opponents include more than 100 retired admirals and generals, who said they would use torture by the CIA encourages foreign governments to torture americans.
"The torture and cruel treatment of prisoners and our national security by increasing the risks to our troops, hindering cooperation with allies, alienating their support to the United States needs in the struggle against terrorism, and providing a propaganda tool for extremists who wish to do us harm, "the generals and admirals wrote in a letter to senators April 23.
" It would send a terrible signal to confirm as the next Directo The CIA said Haspel's career, which began in January 1985, which was secret until she was named deputy director last year. On May 1, the agency released a declassified timeline of her 20 different assignments.
Haspel's most recent assignments include: chief of station in the Europe Division, 2014-2017; deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, 2012-2014; and deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence & Covert Action, in 2012. From 2011-2012, Haspel served as chief of station in a "classified location."
The timeline does not include what the CIA described as "more than 30 short-term, temporary duty assignments" over the course of Haspel's career.
"Through the confirmation process, the American public wants to know her for the first time, "CIA spokesman Ryan Tranpani said.
The Intelligence Committee's damning report in 2014 of the CIA's torture program concluded that the interrogation of detainees was far more brutal than "when they do, we're confident America wants to be proud to have."
The report said torture techniques – including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and chaining prisoners in painful positions in cold, dark dungeons – did little to elicit valuable information or save American lives. Instead, prisoners to lie, the report said.
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