Politics

The Two Republican Senators Who Voted Against Haspel Won’t Surprise You

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to become the next CIA director, Gina Haspel, Thursday afternoon, with two Republicans voting against the confirmation.

Senators voted 54-44 Thursday to confirm Haspel as one of the top intelligence officials in the nation. Two Republicans voted against Haspel, including:

  • Jeff Flake of Arizona
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky

Six Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of her confirmation, including:

  • Joe Manchin of West Virginia
  • Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
  • Mark Warner of Virginia
  • Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota
  • Joe Donnelly of Indiana
  • Bill Nelson of Florida

Paul called Haspel an “acolyte” for former CIA Director John Brennan under former President Barack Obama and said he voted against her because he did not receive enough information about Haspel’s potential role in the surveillance of Trump during the 2016 campaign season.

Flake said that Arizona Sen. John McCain’s opposition to Haspel regarding her involvement in post-9/11 interrogation methods ultimately swayed his vote.

Haspel came under harsh criticism from Republicans, like Flake and McCain, and Democrats for the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, under the leadership of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who voted against Haspel, investigated the CIA’s interrogation and detainment program for terrorists in 2014. Senators found that terrorist suspects were sleep-deprived for up to a full week and threatened with their lives while in custody. (RELATED: 5 Senators Who Voted Against Haspel)

The report also detailed how the CIA’s medical staff approved of the techniques, like “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration,” which a CIA official said was a way to have “total control over the detainee.”

Haspel answered senators’ questions regarding her role in the post-9/11 interrogation methods the agency employed, her view of torture and its role in extracting information and whether or not she would use similar methods if she were to clear the Senate.

Haspel told senators that she would not, under any circumstances, restart an interrogation program at the CIA and that the agency was ill prepared to handle a detention and interrogation program during that period. She also said she believes that torture does not work, but she does think some valuable intel was gathered from “senior Al Qaeda operatives that allowed us to defend this country and prevent another attack.” (RELATED: 5 Takeaways From The Gina Haspel Hearing)

She is now the first female director in the agency’s history of over 70 years.

Much of Haspel’s over 30-year career in the agency is classified, which caused many Democrats to cry out against Haspel. Many senators felt they were getting undercut due to the lack of information, but the agency claimed it was necessary to protect sources and other secret information.

She served as the deputy director of the CIA and has held a number of positions in the CIA during her 33 years with the agency, including: deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action as well as chief of staff for the director of the National Clandestine Service.

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