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Haspel promises not to reinstate 'enhanced' interrogation as CIA director

In her prepared confirmation testimony, Haspel remains silent on what she thinks of the techniques.
by Alex Johnson /  / Updated 
Image: Nominee to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel arrives for a meeting with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Capitol Hill in Washington
Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to be director of the CIA, arrives for a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Monday.Joshua Roberts / Reuters

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Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to be permanent director of the CIA, will promise senators not to resume harsh interrogation techniques that critics have characterized as torture, according to excerpts of her remarks released Tuesday ahead of her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Haspel, 61, the CIA's deputy director since February 2017, has been acting director since Mike Pompeo, then the agency's director, was confirmed to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state last month.

Haspel's nomination has drawn intense scrutiny because of her role — the details of much of which remain classified — in a top-secret CIA program in which dozens of terrorism suspects were subjected to "enhanced" interrogation involving deprivation of sleep and waterboarding, techniques that Trump endorsed during his 2016 presidential campaign.

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According to the excerpts from her testimony, Haspel plans to tell the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday morning that she understands that many people would like to know her views on the interrogation techniques, which were instituted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Her actual opinion, however, isn't included in the excerpts, but in them, she promises, "clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program."

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It wasn't clear Tuesday night whether Haspel would go into detail about her role in the controversial program during the public part of Wednesday's hearing. She is also scheduled to testify before the committee in a closed session.

Concern about Haspel's involvement in "enhanced" interrogation came close to spiking her nomination on Friday, when she broached the idea of withdrawing her nomination over concerns that reopening the debate over the program could damage the CIA.

Haspel decided to go ahead after she spoke with Trump by phone and after White House officials went to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to reassure her that she had their support, two U.S. officials said.

Trump reiterated his support for Haspel early Tuesday on Twitter, specifically hailing her as a leader who would be "tough on terror."

If she is confirmed, Haspel would be the first woman to lead the CIA on a permanent basis. In the excerpts from her prepared remarks, she plans to say that she is proud of the work she has done over the years "to break down those barriers."

"It is not my way to trumpet the fact that I am a woman up for the top job, but I would be remiss in not remarking on it — not least because of the outpouring of support from young women at CIA who consider it a good sign for their own prospects," she plans to say.

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