Veteran covert operative Gina Haspel was approved Wednesday to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency in a crucial Senate panel vote, despite her record of involvement in torture in the early 2000s, AFP reported.The Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to forward her nomination to lead the USA spy agency to the entire Senate, virtually assuring final approval of her nomination.
The Intelligence Committee voted 10-5 to forward her nomination to the entire Senate, virtually assuring that she will earn final approval to lead the USA spy agency, replacing Mike Pompeo, who is now secretary of state.
Feinstein's vote was not unexpected, although she said she was open to hearing Haspel out when her nomination was first brought up. At her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel repeatedly refused to call the CIA's post-9/11 treatment of prisoners "torture", and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral.
"In a recent letter to Vice Chairman Warner, Ms. Haspel expressed her belief that the Central Intelligence Agency never should have undertaken the enhanced interrogation program, and she further underscored her opposition to any attempt to restart it". She was also questioned about her role in the destruction of tapes showing those interrogation sessions.
"It speaks very well of Ms. Haspel's qualifications that she was able to secure the support of both the Republican Chairman and the Democratic Vice Chairman of our Committee", she said in the statement.
She is a career intelligence official, but her nomination has been controversial because she was involved in the CIA's post-9/11 program of detaining and harshly interrogating terror suspects.
Warner's support was matched by one other unnamed Democrat in the secret vote, ensuring the closely divided Senate will also be able to pass Haspel through in a vote expected to come before the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the Physicians for Human Rights said it remains opposed to Haspel's confirmation, saying her assurances are "inadequate to address grave concerns" they raised earlier.
'Most importantly, ' he added, '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'.
Haspel, 61, is the acting CIA director, and she has yet to be confirmed by Congress after facing backlash from politicians over her intelligence career.
Confirmation by the full Senate appeared likely as five Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelley of Indiana, Bill Nelson of Florida and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota announced their support. "There is no reason why her confirmation should be delayed - and I look forward to advancing it expeditiously following the committee's action".
Trump has said the country should consider resuming harsh interrogation techniques.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, McCain's Arizona colleague, has stated he is undecided. But McCain, who is battling brain cancer, is not expected to come to Washington to cast his ballot.
The positive review sets her up for a final vote before the full Senate in the coming days.