On May 17, the US Senate confirmed in 54 for and 45 against votes the nomination of Gina Haspel as a Director of the Central Intelligence Agency of the US.
54-45 #Senate confirmed the Gina Haspel nomimation to be Director of the @CIA. Dem's voting in favor: Senators Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, Nelson, Shaheen, and Warner. GOP against: Senators Flake and Paul. Senator McCain did not vote.
— Senate Press Gallery (@SenatePress) May 17, 2018
Haspel is the first woman to head the CIA. She was picked up to be the next CIA director by US President Donald Trump, who announced his decision on May 13.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
However, Haspel is a controversial figure. During the administration of US President George Bush, Haspel was involved in a wide CIA program that included the torture of dozens of suspects.
Haspel worked in the CIA’s first overseas secret prison or so-called “black sites” in Thailand. According to The New Yorker report, based on released internal CIA documents, in 2002 Haspel reportedly oversaw the interrogation of two terrorism suspects. One of them “appeared to be dead” after the tortures. Haspel was also involved in the destruction of about 100 videotapes documenting these tortures. In 2009, US President Barack Obama ordered to close “black sites”. However, current US President expressed support for such techniques of CIA.
The new CIA director was a key part of the torture program and its illegal cover-up. Her name was on the Top Secret order demanding the destruction of tapes to prevent them being seen by Congress. Incredible. https://t.co/HjVHCPCbpo https://t.co/VamIGa1A8w
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 13, 2018
While Democrats and Republicans were expressing concerns about Haspel’s nomination, the White House and Trump were defending Haspel and accusing Democrats of trying to block her nomination:
My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
During the confirmation hearing, Haspel stressed that she vows against tortures, saying “under my leadership, CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program.”