Haspel wins committee approval to lead CIA, now awaits full Senate vote

Haspel wins committee approval to lead CIA, now awaits full Senate vote

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Gina Haspel during her public confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee (Photo ©Doug Christian)
Gina Haspel during her public confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee (Photo ©Doug Christian)

WASHINGTON — The Senate Intelligence Committee sent the nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director to the full Senate with a favorable recommendation Wednesday, one week after she appeared before the committee with the outcome of her nomination precarious.

The vote was 10-5. If approved by the full Senate, she will be the first female to head the CIA.

Haspel’s favorable vote seemed strong on Tuesday after she sent Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) a letter saying the CIA’s torture of terrorist suspects after the 9-11 attack was, in hindsight, wrong. At her confirmation hearing before the committee last week, Haspel refused to make such a statement.

That 11th hour recantation moved Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, to announce he would support her. Two other Senate Democrats who had been undecided said later on Tuesday that they also would vote for her in a full Senate vote.

“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,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the committee chair said in a statement. “She has acted morally, ethically, and legally, over a distinguished 30-year career and is the right person to lead the Agency into an uncertain and challenging future. I’m pleased to see the Committee favorably report her nomination to the full Senate, and I look forward to her swift confirmation.”

Warner noted that Haspel, 61, will be the first operations officer in more than five decades to lead the CIA.

“I believe that she will be a strong advocate for the Agency’s workforce, and an independent voice who can and will stand up on behalf of our nation’s intelligence community,” Warner said in a statement. “Most importantly, I believe she 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 and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) were the only committee Democrats to support Haspel. All eight Republicans voted for her.

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