Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to become the director of the CIA, faced a grilling from the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday, answering questions regarding her views of torture and her vision for the agency.
The 33-year CIA veteran fended off aggressive questioning from Democrats as well as Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, criticizing her for taking part in legal, but now-banned, interrogation practices under former President George W. Bush. Haspel joined an enhanced interrogation program in the early 2000s, a year after the program gained approval from the administration.
Her detractors all point to the same alleged misdeed: the waterboarding of a chief Al-Qaida officer in the Persian Gulf. The officer was the mastermind behind the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000, which killed 17 Americans and wounded 39 more.
Despite her familiarity with waterboarding, Haspel testified Wednesday that she supported the ban on the practice and would not attempt to revive any similar interrogations practices as director.
During her 33-year career, Haspel has served in Africa, Europe, and Russia, picking up five languages along the way. She’s also served as a CIA station chief four times and has served as the agency’s deputy director since 2016. If confirmed, Haspel will be the first female CIA director in history.
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