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McCain urges Senate to reject Haspel as CIA pick

May 10, 2018

Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, has urged lawmakers to reject Gina Haspel. Haspel told lawmakers she would not allow the CIA to undertake activity she found "immoral."

Gina Haspel
Image: picture-alliance/Consolidated News Photos/A. Edelmann

United States Republican Senator John McCain on Wednesday encouraged his fellow senators to reject Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director.

Haspel, who is seeking to become the first female director of the CIA, will face what is expected to be a tight vote following her confirmation hearing amid concerns over her past involvement with the CIA's harsh interrogation program following the September 11 terror attacks.

Read more: CIA: The Gina Haspel controversy runs deeper than her appointment

The people rejecting Haspel's nomination

  • Senator McCain called for the Senate to reject Haspel's nomination as her "refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying"
  • "Ms Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing," McCain said in a statement. "I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination"
  • More than 100 former US ambassadors who served both Republican and Democratic presidents sent the Senate a letter opposing Haspel
  • Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for the Senate to block her nomination

'I don't believe torture works'

US President Donald Trump's nomination of Haspel for the role has been criticized by both Republican and Democratic senators.

During questioning by members of the Senate Intelligence Committee at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Haspel said she "doesn't believe that torture works."

"I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal," said Haspel, who has worked with the organization in various roles for 33 years. "I would absolutely not permit it," she added.

Protesters interrupted Haspel's hearing shouting, "Prosecute the torturers!" and "Bloody Gina!"

In her answers to more than 100 questions submitted by committee members, Haspel said: "I realize that there are strong disagreements on the effectiveness of the CIA's detention and interrogation program."

"In my view — a view shared by all nine former directors and acting directors — the CIA was able to collect valuable intelligence that contributed to the prevention of further terrorist attacks. That said, it is impossible to know whether the CIA could have obtained the same information in another way," she wrote.

She added that there was little question that the program harmed CIA officers who participated and that it damaged US relations with allies.

Torture survivors and experts: "Torture doesn't work"

law/rc (AFP, AP)

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