Published: Mon, May 07, 2018
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NBC's Bash: Haspel Not Withdrawing Nomination as CIA Director

NBC's Bash: Haspel Not Withdrawing Nomination as CIA Director

President Trump's nominee to lead the CIA, Deputy Director Gina Haspel, nearly withdrew herself from consideration for the job over concerns that she would face a hard confirmation process thanks to her role in the George W. Bush administration's torture regime. Many Democrats have said she should be disqualified because she was the chief of base at a covert detention site in Thailand where two terrorism suspects were subjected to waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.

Her confirmation hearing, set for May 9, was already expected to end with a close vote. She's not withdrawing her nomination. The 33-year-old veteran of the force served most of her career nearly entirely undercover and much of her record is classified.

After her offer to withdraw, White House aides worked to reassure her that she had the president's support.

Many details of Haspel's work remain classified.

"The takeaway for every United States Senator", commented Faiz Shakir, the ACLU's national political director, "should be that they need a lot more information about Haspel than they're now getting".

"There has been a fascinating phenomenon over the last few weeks".

Haspel's nomination attracted controversy, not least because of her role in 2002 as chief of a Central Intelligence Agency black site in Thailand, in which prisoners were "questioned" under the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program authorized by George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

She had been summoned to the White House to discuss her role in a programme that used techniques condemned as torture, including waterboarding al-Qaeda suspects.

After Haspel attended a mock hearing for her upcoming confirmation hearing, she said she was "interested" in stepping down as nominee.

Her nomination has come in for criticism even from Republicans, with Senator John McCain having said she needed to explain her involvement in one of the "darkest chapters in American history". She also feared unfair attacks on her own reputation, saying that she didn't want to be "the next Ronny Jackson", one official said.

The White House has openly promoted Haspel's track record and leadership experience. By Saturday she had reportedly agreed to continue with the nomination. "Any Democrat who claims to support women's empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite".

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