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McCain: Senate Should Reject Gina Haspel Over Torture Involvement

McCain: Senate Should Reject Gina Haspel Over Torture Involvement

McCain: Senate Should Reject Gina Haspel Over Torture Involvement

Haspel repeatedly said she believes in a strict moral standard. Haspel conceded that as acting director of the agency, she was in charge of deciding what remained secret about her past. "CIA follows the law, we followed the law then, we follow the law today". In the course of defending themselves against the suit, they attempted to have Haspel and another Central Intelligence Agency official, James Cotsana, deposed.

Senators quickly turned to her role in the agency when the Bush administration, in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks, authorized waterboarding and other interrogation tactics widely believed to be torture. She also participated in destroying videotaped evidence of the torture. Rather than say torture is wrong, for example, Haspel repeatedly cited USA law that bans it to explain why she wouldn't restart it. She became deputy director of the entire agency past year and is now its acting director. "However, Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. It is a subject that a week doesn't go by that, either, the President asks for an expert briefing or Secretary Mattis asks for someone to brief him on China issues", Ms. Haspel said responding to a question from Senator Marco Rubio.

McCain is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which heard Haspel's testimony Wednesday, but it is unclear if McCain would be able to return for the vote.

Those who support Haspel's nomination-including virtually all living ex-CIA directors from Democratic and Republican administrations alike, along with powerful sections of the USA ruling establishment-see her as a fit candidate to lead an agency preparing for war overseas and repression at home.

Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from ME, asked her what she would do if the president directed her to waterboard a terror suspect. She told senators Wednesday that she had "absolutely" supported the destruction of 92 tapes, all depicting one detainee being interrogated, over concerns "about the security risk that was posed to our officers".

Hers was a barely modified version of the defense made infamous by the Nazis at Nuremberg: She was only following orders and was told by superiors that her actions-in flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution and US statues forbidding torture-were perfectly legal.

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Indications that Haspel played a far wider role in administrating the torture program than just her stint in Thailand appeared to find fresh confirmation with the report from Guantanamo Bay that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was water boarded 183 times, had requested permission from a military judge to submit six paragraphs of information on Haspel.

Although McCain is unlikely to cast a floor vote on Haspel, as he is out of Washington receiving treatment for a rare and serious form of brain cancer, his opinion carries particular symbolic weight, as a war hero who was tortured in Vietnam.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinBlankenship concedes GOP Senate primary in W. Va. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Haspel's only other Republican critic, warning that if he opposed Haspel, he was standing with al-Qaida. "I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination", he wrote.

Many Democrats have also spoken out against her nomination.

Haspel refused to offer any such promises.

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