GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump's CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency.
But opponents concerned about Haspel's role in CIA covert detention sites after 9/11 could delay a vote by the full Senate until next week.
The committee voted 10-5 in Haspel's favor today, paving the way for her expected confirmation to become the first woman to lead the CIA. Republicans leaders in the Senate want to hold that vote before the end of the week, but she is opposed by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and some Democrats who could object.
"Gina Haspel is one step closer to leading our brave men and women at the CIA," Trump tweeted this evening. "She is exceptionally qualified and the Senate should confirm her immediately. We need her to keep our great country safe! #ConfirmGina."
Haspel's nomination has reopened debate about the CIA's now-defunct program of detaining terror suspects overseas at secret lock-ups and trying to get them to talk by subjecting them to sleep deprivation and other harsh interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, which simulates drowning. Haspel supervised one of those detention sites in Thailand, but details of her work there have not been declassified.
Her nomination, however, also was applauded by former top intelligence officials and spy professionals who cited her years of experience at the CIA in mostly undercover posts both in the United States and abroad. She is currently acting CIA director.
During her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel said she doesn't believe torture works as an interrogation technique. That puts her at odds with Trump who has said he believes torture works and that terror suspects should be subjected to waterboarding and worse.
Haspel said her "strong moral compass" would prevent her from carrying out any presidential order she found objectionable.