Vietnam Time

5/18/2018 8:35:11 AM

US Senate confirms Gina Haspel as new CIA director

The U.S. Senate on Thursday (May 17th) confirmed Gina Haspel as the first female CIA director.

President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency passed on a vote of 54-45, with half a dozen opposition Democrats bucking their party and supporting the controversial Haspel's nomination. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP)

President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency passed on a vote of 54-45, with half a dozen opposition Democrats bucking their party and supporting the controversial Haspel's nomination.

Two Republicans voted against her, while Republican Senator John McCain is in Arizona battling brain cancer and could not vote.

The 61-year-old Haspel, a Russia specialist who spent her career in the clandestine service, takes over from Mike Pompeo, whom Trump recently made his secretary of state.

Haspel is widely respected as a disciplined, non-political field agent. She rose to manage the global clandestine network before becoming the CIA's deputy director one year ago.

But with her past suddenly in the spotlight, she endured a contentious confirmation process during which lawmakers criticised her work following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when she oversaw a secret prison in Thailand.

It was there that Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were water-boarded, an interrogation technique subsequently condemned as torture.

Haspel pledged to lawmakers that she would "never ever" take the CIA back to enhanced interrogation techniques.

While she notably declined to describe the interrogation methods as "immoral" at her confirmation hearing, she wrote in a follow-up letter to lawmakers that the harsh program "is not one the CIA should have undertaken."

Number two Senate Republican John Cornyn said Haspel is well-liked within the CIA, and will provide "objective, unbiased, and unvarnished intelligence" to the president and policymakers./.

VNF/AFP  
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