Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Gina Haspel sought to withdraw nomination to be Central Intelligence Agency director

Donald Trump's pick to run the CIA, Gina Haspel, offered to withdraw over 'torture' role
Leonard Rios | 08 May, 2018, 01:02

"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists", Trump wrote on Twitter. "Gina Haspel won't", said Hayden. The recent declassification of a CIA memorandum regarding Ms. Haspel and her role in the destruction of videotapes of CIA detainee interrogations - an action that was not authorized by the CIA Director, Department of Justice, or White House - makes this request all the more important. The president's failure to vet nominees to lead massive, complex government agencies has given us such gems as Scott Pruitt, who's been dogged by scandal since taking office, and Betsy DeVos, who barely scraped by after stumbling repeatedly during questioning. But, he said, "the White House bucked her up". She was summoned to the White House on Friday for a meeting on her history in the CIA's controversial interrogation program - which employed techniques such as waterboarding that are widely seen as torture - and signaled that she was going to withdraw her nomination. But after Sanders and White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short spoke to her, Haspel reconsidered, according to multiple outlets.

"Given that Ms. Haspel, as the current Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is in the conflicted position of serving as the classification authority over potentially derogatory information related to her own nomination, we can think of no more appropriate situation for you to serve as the relevant authority - as outlined in EO 13526", said the senators.

Ms Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the CIA, is the first career operations officer to be nominated to lead the agency in decades.

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The official who conducted the review, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, told CNN that Haspel had merely drafted a cable under instruction from her boss, former clandestine chief Jose Rodriguez, "that he sent, under his name and authority, ordering that the tapes be destroyed". There, after a terse discussion, Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination, anxious that her hearing would damage both the C.I.A.'s reputation and her own.

The post became vacant after Mike Pompeo was appointed secretary of state last month. Her nomination would be in jeopardy only if she loses the support of Republicans, who hold a slim 51-49 seat majority in the Senate. In that time, she has been the recipient of several awards, such as the George H.W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism and the Presidential Rank Award.

At least two al-Qaeda suspects, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were subjected to waterboarding at the Thailand site in 2002.

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