Will CIA Chief nominee Gina Haspel keep her promise?
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's nominee to head the CIA will promise lawmakers on Wednesday she will never resume a program of harsh interrogations, often denounced as torture, that has been the major issue complicating her confirmation.
Democratic senators have vowed to question nominee Gina Haspel, currently the spy agency's acting director, about her role in the use of harsh interrogation methods during former President George W. Bush's administration, as
well as the destruction of videotapes documenting the questioning.
"Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program," Haspel said in excerpts of her testimony released ahead of the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Public questioning of Haspel on issues such as the effectiveness of the interrogations, CIA drone strikes and agency "renditions" of suspected militants to third countries may be limited because the operations remain classified.
Haspel needs 51 votes to be confirmed as the first woman director of the CIA in the 100-seat Senate, where Trump's fellow Republicans hold a 51-49 majority. The agency's former deputy director, she would succeed Mike Pompeo, a Republican former congressman confirmed last month as secretary of state.
Haspel already has the strong support of many Republicans. As he opened the hearing, the panel's Republican chairman, Richard Burr, praised Haspel.
"I believe your intellectual rigor, honorable service and outstanding judgment make you a natural fit to lead the CIA," he said, urging that the hearing not be made "a trial about a long-shuttered program."But Haspel could face a difficult time being confirmed. At least one Republican, Senator Rand Paul, has said he opposes her, and others have said they will wait to see how she does at Wednesday's hearing.No Democrat has yet expressed support for Haspel.