Gina Haspel just sailed through her confirmation vote in the Senate to become the next director of the CIA.
Senators voted 54-45 to confirm Haspel Thursday afternoon despite her facing initial pushback from Democrats and several Republicans for her oversight role in torture at a CIA black site in Thailand in the early aughts. Sen. John McCain, who was himself tortured in Vietnam, notably called for his colleagues to reject Haspel’s nomination. And even in their statements of approval for Haspel, many lawmakers referenced McCain’s concerns about “torture’s immorality.”
Haspel promised she would not restart the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, and she doubled down on that promise during her confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Yet she wouldn’t condemn what happened under those directives or the people who gave them. Earlier this week, however, Haspel said the program should never have existed in a letter to Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, who originally expressed concern about her history.
Warner’s subsequent support for Haspel paved the way for her approval within the committee and the Senate as a whole. Other Democrats, like Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, soon fell in line. Haspell passed the Senate Intelligence Committee vote 10-5 Wednesday morning, which brought her confirmation to a full floor 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,” said the committee's chairman, Republican Sen. Richard Burr.
President Trump nominated Haspel, who will be the first woman to run the agency, after he fired Rex Tillerson and asked then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take over the role of secretary of state.
Cover image: CIA nominee Gina Haspel is sworn in during a confirmation hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)