President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director says the agency should not have run the harsh interrogation program after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the U.S.
Gina Haspel made the comments in a letter sent Monday to Virginia Senator Mark Warner. He is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The program, introduced under then-President George W. Bush, permitted waterboarding and other tough measures against terror suspects. Opponents to the program call waterboarding a form of torture.
Haspel said in the letter the program “is not one the CIA should have undertaken,” a position she did not publicly express during confirmation hearings last week.
“While I won’t condemn those that made those hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote.
During her testimony, Haspel promised not to restart the program if she is confirmed.
After reading Haspel’s letter, Warner sent out a statement saying he will support Haspel as the next CIA director when the intelligence committee votes on her nomination Wednesday.
He said Haspel is representative of the thousands of CIA employees who “serve quietly, without recognition and often at great personal risk in order to keep our nation safe from those who wish to do us harm.”
Warner said while he wishes Haspel had been “more open with the public” during her testimony before the committee, he found her to be “professional and forthright.” He said he believes Haspel would stand up to the president if “ordered to so something illegal of immoral like a return to torture.”
Haspel played a key role in the interrogation program, including supervising a secret CIA interrogation center in Thailand and destroying tapes.
Haspel is expected to clear Wednesday’s committee vote. Including Warner, four Democrats on the committee have said they will support her. The full Senate is expected to vote next week.
But numerous Democrats are still undecided and several have complained the Trump administration has failed to properly provide the public with a complete accounting of Haspel’s record, including a classified Justice Department report prepared by a special prosecutor who investigated the destruction of the tapes.
Source: Voice of America