After Letter, Haspel's Confirmation Looks Almost Certain

She wrote that CIA should not have conducted controversial interrogation program
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2018 4:14 PM CDT
In Letter, Haspel Goes Further Than She Did at Hearing
In this May 9, 2018 photo, CIA nominee Gina Haspel testifies during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – Gina Haspel wouldn't come right out and say it during her public confirmation hearing last week, but in a new letter, she writes that the controversial post-9/11 detention and "enhanced" interrogation program "is not one the CIA should have undertaken." Haspel, President Trump's pick to lead the CIA, says the Bush-era program, in which waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques were used on detainees, "ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world" in the letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was obtained by CNN and can be read in full here. She added that she "won't condemn those that made these hard calls" and that the program did collect "valuable intelligence."

Sources tell CNN Haspel has been more candid in her remarks during private meetings with senators and in her classified hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee. At that hearing, a source says Haspel explained to senators that she did not want to appear to be criticizing her CIA colleagues in public. Haspel's background with the CIA, including running a black-site prison in Thailand in where harsh interrogations took place, has made her confirmation as CIA director complicated. The Senate Intelligence Committee will vote on her nomination Wednesday; Warner was undecided, but after the letter, he announced Tuesday he would support her confirmation, the Washington Post reports. A Senate floor vote is expected next week. Fellow Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced her support shortly thereafter; the Huffington Post says Haspel is now almost certain to be confirmed even if Republican Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain continue to oppose her confirmation. (Read more Gina Haspel stories.)

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