President Donald Trump has come out in full support of his nominee for the position of CIA director – Gina Haspel. This follows a weekend in which news broke that Haspel considered withdrawing her name from consideration for the position because of her involvement in waterboarding terror suspects. Trump charges that her detractors want her out because they think she’s “too tough on Terrorists.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders voiced her opinion over the weekend that any Democrats who say they support women but don’t vote for Haspel are hypocrites.
Heading into a confirmation hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Gina Haspel is not expected to have an easy time winning support in a 51-49 party split in the Senate. The absence of Republican Senator John McCain due to illness makes her confirmation even more tenuous.
It’s expected that Democrats will focus on Haspel’s involvement with waterboarding. The BBC reported recently on the two months in 2002 that Gina Haspel ran a secret facility known as Detention Site Green located inside the Royal Thai Air Force base in Udon Thani. The site was used to interrogate suspects and where torture of terror suspects, including waterboarding, took place, according to an executive summary published by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The facility is described as a “safe house” that the United States was allowed to operate as long as they maintained communication with the Thai government. The facility was shut down just two months after Haspel took charge of it after news of its existence and the activities that took place within it began being leaked to the press.
Gina Haspel’s CIA tenure goes back 33 years. Most of that time she spent undercover, but she recently served as deputy director. She has reportedly been spending time at CIA headquarters preparing for questions that may arise during her confirmation hearing and has said that she would firmly oppose the reintroduction of torture techniques that were used at the Thailand site during her time there. Some Democrats have said that Haspel should be disqualified from consideration for the role of CIA director. Also of concern and likely to be a topic of questioning is the nominee’s involvement in destroying tapes of interrogation techniques under her watch. Gina Haspel drafted a cable ordering their destruction in 2005. It reportedly was sent without her knowledge.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted her support of Haspel as director of the CIA.