Trump’s CIA Nominee to be Questioned by Senate on Her Interrogation Past

Gina Hospel will be faced with a difficulty in getting Senate confirmation of President Donald Trump’s suggestion for Director of CIA. The 30-year intelligence veteran will be questioned about her involvement in the agency’s brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects in the post-9/11 era.

Republican Senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday that he is going to oppose her nomination. That means the Republicans have only the bare minimum 50 votes needed to confirm her if there are no other GOP defections and if Republican Senator John McCain returns to vote.

According to The Hill, Republican Senator Susan Collins has already said she isn’t making a decision until after Haspel’s hearing and the vote of McCain, who was tortured during his five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“Haspel will have to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program,” she said.

This puts Democrats in a potentially powerful position to swing Haspel’s confirmation. However, it looks like the minority is prepared to offer support, despite her controversial record, fierce opposition from human rights activists and the fact that she is a Trump nominee.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner on Wednesday cited a “very good working relationship” with Haspel, who is the agency’s deputy director. Senator Joe Manchin who is a red-state Democrat who also sits on the Intelligence panel said he was “very much open-minded.”

Senate’s harshest critics of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as well as the author of the so-called torture report, Senator Dianne Feinstein, showed a surprisingly open reception to Haspel that could pull others off the fence.

“We’ve had dinner together. We have talked. Everything I know is she has been a good deputy director, I think, hopefully, the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program,” she said.

The Hill reported that Feinstein in 2013 blocked Haspel’s promotion to run clandestine operations at the agency because of her role in interrogations at a CIA “black site” prison and the destruction of videotapes documenting the waterboarding sessions of an al Qaeda suspect there.

Lawmakers will be questioning Hospel in order to see if the Trump administration wants to return to the use of controversial techniques, such as waterboarding, that is currently banned.

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