Gina Haspel has been confirmed as the next CIA director, making her the first woman to lead the intelligence agency.
The vote Thursday broke down largely along party lines. Haspel is widely respected as a disciplined, non-political field agent.
"Due to the overwhelming public evidence suggesting Haspel's participation and compliance with crimes including torture, enforced disappearance, and obstruction of justice, Haspel's nomination is an affront to human rights", Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International USA said in a statement on Tuesday.
Number two Senate Republican John Cornyn said Haspel is well-liked within the CIA and will provide "objective, unbiased, and unvarnished intelligence" to the president and policymakers. Haspel became acting director after Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state.
But for many in the Senate, such as Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner, Haspel's dark history didn't matter.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the world was watching the confirmation vote, which he called a "referendum on torture".
Haspel, whose nomination was endorsed by the Senate Intelligence Committee a day earlier, previously was deputy director and has spent her career with the agency.
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Since Trump nominated Haspel, her confirmation has been clouded by debate over the CIA's former interrogation program. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel declined to say whether she would recuse herself from that role but insisted she had not interfered with standard agency declassification processes.
A vote of 54-45 in the 100-member Senate allowed her to slip into the role with the majority. Joe Donnelly (IN), Sen.
But Haspel's nomination was contentious because of her role in a former Central Intelligence Agency program to brutally detain and interrogate terror suspects at covert sites overseas following 9/11. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Sen.
Rand Paul of Kentucky and John McCain of Arizona, are opposed to Haspel's nomination, and McCain isn't expected to be back in Washington for the vote while he battles brain cancer. Bill Nelson (FL), Sen.
Haspel, who will be the first woman to lead the CIA, is a 33-year veteran at the agency now serving as its acting director.
But several Democrats expressed worry that Haspel might not stand up to the president who in 2016 told supporters that "torture works" and that he would like to see interrogation techniques "tougher than waterboarding". "I also believe it is important to hold Gina Haspel's nomination to a similar standard as previous nominees for this position, particularly in regards to responsibility for the CIA's use of torture following the 9/11 attacks", Shaheen proclaimed.
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