Gina Haspel must atone for her past to become CIA director

Gina Haspel must atone for her past to become CIA director

Senate confirmation hearing will focus on documents relating to interrogation techniques used inside a secret prison in Thailand

The battle in the Senate on Wednesday over Gina Haspel’s confirmation as the new director of the CIA is set to become a public reckoning of one of the darker chapters in modern US history.

Haspel, who is currently the CIA’s deputy director after 33 years in the agency, ran a secret detention centre in Thailand in 2002 where inmates were tortured. Over the following two years she was a senior operations officer at the CIA counter-terrorism centre, which oversaw the interrogation programme around the world. Then, in 2005, she drafted an order for her then boss, Jose Rodriguez, the head of the CIA clandestine service, calling for the destruction of nearly 100 videotapes of interrogation sessions.

Despite strong support from former CIA chiefs, Haspel’s chances of becoming the agency’s first female boss are delicately balanced in a divided Senate. Senators had demanded greater transparency from the CIA over her history and on Monday the agency delivered a cardboard box full of classified documents.

But it is unclear what those documents will prove, and they may raise more questions than answers. The New York Times reported that the White House has seen newly released documentation including records of chats in the CIA’s internal messaging system in which Haspel raises no objections to the CIA’s interrogation techniques.

After being summoned to the White House on Friday to discuss the new information, Haspel is reported to have offered to withdraw, uncertain over the administration’s commitment to backing her. She had to be talked out of quitting by senior presidential aides, including the legislative director, Marc Short, and White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, who was urgently dispatched to the CIA headquarters in Langley to bolster Haspel’s resolve.

“She wants to do everything she can to make sure the integrity of the CIA remains intact, isn’t unnecessarily attacked,” Sanders said on Monday, when asked about Haspel’s apparent crisis of confidence over the weekend. “If she felt that her nomination would have been a problem for that and for the agency, then she wanted to do everything she could to protect the agency.”

more at The Guardian