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Monday, May 21, 2018

US Senate endorses Trump's candidate to head the CIA

Por Rory

The intelligence committee of the US Senate on Wednesday approved the nomination of Gina Haspel as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and passed the case to the plenary. In the vote, which took place behind closed doors, Haspel received the endorsement of 10 of the 15 members of that legislative panel, in which Democrats Mark Warner, vice president of that committee; and Joe Manchin joined their Republican colleagues. Warner said at the meeting that Haspel will be the first female operations officer in more than five decades to lead the agency and guaranteed that she can prevent that entity from carrying out illegal or immoral orders, even if indicated by the head of the White House.

Since the confirmation process began after being nominated for the post by President Donald Trump, Haspel faced difficult questions about her role in handling sites where alleged terrorists were tortured after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Her controversial candidacy provoked opposition from political and military leaders, including the influential Republican Senator John McCain, who urged the Senate to reject her, so she still has to get the 51 votes that she needs in the plenary - of the 100 senatorial seats - to become first female director of the CIA. On April 23, more than a hundred retired generals from the United States asked the legislative body to closely examine Haspel's participation in the program for the surrender, detention and interrogation of prisoners abroad.

However, Haspel, current deputy director of the CIA, firmly defended the action of that spy agency in the so-called fight against terrorism, since the Democrats repeatedly pressured her about the ethics of torture, as well as criticizing her for providing legalistic answers. The main concern of the legislators is her participation in these procedures when serving in a secret prison in Thailand. According to official reports, at least one of the inmates of that detention center was subjected more than 80 times to the method of simulated drowning, consisting of pouring water on the face covered with a cloth in order to provoke the sensation of suffocation to the interrogated.

In 2002 the CIA closed the prison in the Asian nation and Haspel began working for the clandestine services of the agency, then under the direction of José Rodríguez, who at her request and without the approval of the White House, ordered to destroy almost a hundred video tapes in which the torture of two alleged al Qaeda terrorists was documented. In her confirmation hearing last week Haspel argued that torture is not an effective interrogation technique and that her "moral compass" would not allow her to comply with a presidential order that she considered objectionable. In the beginning of his government, Donald Trump defended torture as an efficient method for interrogation. Haspel said she would not allow the spy agency to resume its harsh interrogation program, but declined to reveal details of what she did in connection with the program or to say if she considered it immoral. “After serving during those tumultuous times, I offer my personal commitment, clear and without reservations, that under my leadership the CIA will not resume those detention and interrogation programs," she told the Senate.

Considered by some media as a spy of spies, Haspel, daughter of a US pilot, did undercover work in the CIA for 32 years until she became deputy director of the entity. During that period he held 20 different positions, kept secret by the agency. Several of them were in Africa, Europe and Asia. According to her official profile, Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and has extensive experience in operations abroad, including high-profile destinations such as London, having directed many of these CIA offices outside the United States. In Washington D.C. she was the deputy director of the NCS (National Clandestine Service, now Operations Directorate), served as the chief of staff for the director of the same office and was deputy director of Intelligence Abroad and Undercover Actions.

In addition to speaking Turkish fluently, the 61-year-old deputy director is fluent in Russian, a novelty in the CIA management position. As the CIA recently revealed, Haspel apparently spent much of the first 15 years of her career in covert operations related to Russia. She was awarded the George H. W. Bush Prize for excellence in the fight against terrorism, the Donovan Prize, the Medal of Merit in Intelligence, and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious among public servants nationwide.