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McCain: CIA Nominee 'Needs to Explain the Nature and Extent of Her Involvement' in Torture

WASHINGTON -- Early congressional opposition to President Trump's pick to lead the CIA indicates that Deputy Director Gina Haspel could face a rocky nomination process.

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!” tweeted President Trump this morning.

Haspel, a career CIA officer, began with the agency in 1985 and served as chief of station at various overseas assignments. She served as deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, and chief of staff for the director of the National Clandestine Service. She was sworn in as deputy director on Feb. 7, 2017.

"I think the world of her," former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN today. "I've worked with her. I think she's very good. I think the agency rank-and-file look very positively on her as director."

Haspel said in a statement that she was "grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency."

“If confirmed, I look forward to providing President Trump the outstanding intelligence support he has grown to expect during his first year in office," she added.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted that in Mike Pompeo's confirmation hearing for the top CIA job he "repeatedly committed that he would comply with the law that applies the Army Field Manual’s interrogation requirements to all U.S. agencies, including the CIA."

"The American people now deserve the same assurances from Gina Haspel, whose career with the agency has intersected with the program of so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ on a number of occasions," McCain said, referring to her leadership of a "black site" detention facility in Thailand. "The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history. Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process. I know the Senate will do its job in examining Ms. Haspel’s record as well as her beliefs about torture and her approach to current law."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) came out against both Pompeo and Haspel, saying Pompeo as CIA director has "demonstrated a casual relationship to truth and principle" and that if "Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has reserved his fire for both nominees for a scheduled Wednesday press conference.