President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA vowed not to restart the interrogation and torture programs used under the Bush administration, as she prepares for a tough Senate confirmation process Wednesday.
Gina Haspel faces tough questions from senators about her role leading a detention site where brutal interrogation tactics were used in the wake of 9/11. She will be also pressured to offer explanations for why she destroyed video footage of the covert interrogation sessions.
“I understand that what many people want to know about are my views on CIA’s former detention and interrogation program,” Haspel said in her opening statement. “I have views on this issue, and I want to be clear. Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, on my watch, CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program.”
Watch Haspel discuss her career and prospects for the future in her opening statement before senators below:
Haspel’s vow to never return to the harsh tactics used by the spy organization in the past is aimed at securing the necessary votes from skeptical senators, but it sets up a clear distinction from the president’s tough rhetoric toward terrorism.
On the campaign trail, Trump advocated for renewed authorization for waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse,” according to The Associated Press. But the president has supported Haspel’s confirmation despite her stance on interrogation practices, declaring that she will be “TOUGH ON TERROR.”
Haspel has drawn support from intelligence community officials and others excited having a woman at the head of the CIA, and during her opening statements, Haspel acknowledged this.
“It is not my way to trumpet the fact that I am a woman up for the top job, but I would be remiss in not remarking on it – not least because of the outpouring of support from young women at CIA who consider it a good sign for their own prospects,” she said.
Haspel has received endorsements from several prominent Republicans who have resisted calls from Democrats for the CIA to release documents related to Haspel’s covert operations throughout her 33-year career.
“I know that some have requested the documents that deal with covert action be made public and declassified,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the chairman of the intelligence committee, said Tuesday. “That has never happened in the history of the CIA, and it’s not going to happen with Gina Haspel’s nomination.”
But opponents of Haspel’s nomination voiced their doubts about her leadership as the hearing approached, including former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who said that is she is confirmed, it would send a message that the U.S. approves of the torture program used against suspected terrorists under the Bush presidency, according to The AP.
After senators from the Intelligence Committee get answers from Haspel about the controversies in her career, her confirmation will go up for a vote before the entire Senate.