Published: Wed, May 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Gina Haspel is too qualified to pass up

Gina Haspel is too qualified to pass up

Trump said on Twitter that Haspel has "come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists".

Trump on Monday defended his choice of Haspel after sources said she sought to withdraw her nomination because of the controversy over her role in the program.

An undercover officer for most of her more than 30-year career, Haspel in 2002 briefly served as CIA station chief in Thailand, where the agency ran one of the secret prisons where suspected al Qaeda extremists were interrogated using procedures that included waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

Haspel testifies Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee for her confirmation hearing.

Then the president switched gears to announce that he would call President Xi of China to discuss trade and denuclearization in the Korean peninsula. Trump tweeted. "This is a woman who has been a leader wherever she has gone". He added that "in these very risky times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror".

He said he was concerned the agency "has opened itself up to criticism" that it released only favorable information about her work, "while suppressing related items that could reflect negatively". They're expected to play key roles in Haspel's confirmation, but neither say they have decided how they will vote. CIA veterans would also see her confirmation as a sign that the agency had been officially absolved of its misdeeds in the war on terror.

In an April 24 letter to Feinstein and other senators, Jaime Cheshire, the CIA's director of congressional affairs, said the agency is committed to providing a "complete picture" of Haspel's 33-year CIA career, including her time working in its counterterrorism center.

With dozens of Democrats saying they will vote against her, support from Maine's senators could be pivotal. No Democrats have said they intend to vote for Haspel.

Al Jazeera's Heidi Zhou-Castro reports from Washington.

One administration official acknowledged that Trump might have strayed from agreed-to talking points, but said that reflected Trump's frustration with Democrats and a desire to get Haspel installed as Central Intelligence Agency director.

Robert Ford, a former USA ambassador to Syria, said confirming Haspel could undercut US efforts to promote human rights because she'll always be identified with the enhanced interrogation program.

The White House is pressuring lawmakers to confirm Ms Haspel.

"If Barack Obama had nominated her when he was president, she would have sailed through without question", attorney Debra Burlingame said on "Fox & Friends". She told reporters the sessions had been "great".

Though Trump has expressed some private skepticism about Haspel, newly installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior administration officials have convinced the President she still has a chance of surviving the confirmation process.

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