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Haspel offered to withdraw as nominee for Central Intelligence Agency chief: WP

07 May, 2018, 16:18 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Attorney David Irvine speaks at a meeting of Salt Lake Indivisible a grass-roots bipartisan group organizing against President Donald Trump. The meeting was held at Wasatch Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City Wedne

Haspel reportedly sought to withdraw her nomination over concerns about her role in the agency's interrogation program, and on Friday told the White House she would step aside to avoid a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday.

Haspel was concerned that a debate over harsh interrogation programs would tarnish her reputation and that of the Central Intelligence Agency, but was convinced by top Trump aides to remain in the nomination process, the officials said. Furthermore, she's accused of being part of a scheme that destroyed over 100 tapes with footage of the interrogations.

Haspel was summoned to the White House on Friday for a meeting to discuss her history in the interrogation program that employed techniques, including waterboarding, widely condemned as torture, the Post reported, citing four unidentified senior USA officials.

Earlier the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also -a bit overzealously- dashed to defend Trump's nominee, facing harsh criticism for playing the feminist and women's empowerment card way too openly. He chose to push for Haspel to remain as the nominee after initially signaling he would support whatever decision was taken, administration officials said. Democrats say she should be disqualified because she was the chief of base at the covert detention site in Thailand where waterboarding occurred.

Raj Shah, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said in a statement Sunday, "Acting Director (Gina) Haspel is a highly qualified nominee who has dedicated over three decades of service to her country". While answering mock questions from Congress, White House officials learned new information and became "concerned".

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"She'll be at the hearing Wednesday morning".

Fearing that Wednesday's Senate confirmation hearing could shed unnecessary light on classified torture programs that could potentially amount to war crimes and taint her career and the work of the United States intelligence community, Haspel was allegedly ready to throw in the towel, before the White House and the CIA rushed to her aid over the weekend. For one, it appears that Haspel was an "enthusiastic supporter" of the controversial waterboarding program, which casts her in a negative light. The 33-year-old veteran of the force served most of her career nearly entirely undercover and much of her record is classified.

By Saturday, Haspel had agreed to continue with her nomination, officials told the Post.

Since May 3, the White House has been releasing many positive testimonials of Haspel, according to CBS News.

As with other nominations, this one hit a roadblock but is back on track, said a third administration official familiar with the effort to get her confirmed.

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