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Trump congratulates first female Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel

Trump congratulates first female Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel

The US Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be director of the CIA, ending a bruising confirmation fight centred on her ties to the spy agency's past use of torture.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence offered their congratulations on Twitter, while some senators quickly made clear which side they were on, revealing their votes.

At her confirmation hearing, Ms. Haspel said she would obey current law and vowed never to restart a detention and interrogation program like the one she was involved in more than a decade ago.

Supporters cited Haspel's 33-year career at the agency.

Much of Haspel's 30-year career at Central Intelligence Agency was spent in the clandestine service and remains classified.

Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, which oversaw the nomination, supported Haspel.

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The Senate Intelligence Committee has sent the nomination to the full Senate by a 10-5 vote, and her confirmation seems all but certain. Six Democrats ultimately broke ranks to vote for Haspel - Sen. John McCain that Haspel's record and perspective on torture are disqualifying.

"There is no greater voice on this subject than John McCain's", said Sen.

When questioned about this as part of the nomination process, Haspel publicly repudiated the use of torture moving forward and openly regretted the actions the agency had taken in the past.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Haspel "the right woman at the right time" to lead the agency. "I have asked again and again for some justification for Ms. Haspel's self-serving classification decisions and every response I have received, in classified and unclassified settings, has convinced me further that those decisions have nothing to do with protecting sources and methods, and only to do with protecting her own image". Most other Democrats, including those eyeing presidential runs in 2020, voted against Haspel in what may become a defining issue for Democrats. "While I respect Ms. Haspel's service and sacrifice, after meeting with her and reviewing classified documents, I do not think she is that person". Haspel also received the support of the editorial boards of New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard.

Beyond Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, and Nelson, who will be targeted relentlessly by Trump and GOP forces regardless of their vote for Haspel, there were two Democratic senators who tokenized Haspel and were proud to overlook her torture past because they could say they backed the First Woman CIA Director Ever. Her involvement in ordering the destruction, in 2005, of 92 videotapes - some of which documented the interrogations - while serving as chief of staff to then-Director of the clandestine service Jose Rodriguez was also roundly criticized.