Trump defends 'tough on terror' Central Intelligence Agency nominee Haspel

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted Saturday that any Democrat who doesn’t support CIA director nominee Gina Haspel is a “hypocrite.”

"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists", Trump wrote.

The Fox News morning show was discussing a Washington Post report that the nominee, Gina Haspel, had offered to pull her name from consideration over concerns in Congress about her involvement in the George W. Bush-era interrogation program.

On Friday, Haspel sought to drop her nomination after some White House officials anxious her role in the interrogation of terrorist suspects could prevent her confirmation by the Senate, according to four senior US officials. But Haspel is facing an uphill confirmation battle because of the role she played in the waterboarding of radical Islamic terrorism figures, in a "black site" prison in Thailand, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on NY and Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, a top administration official told Newsmax that this week would be pivotal for current CIA Deputy Director Haspel.

Last month, 109 retired generals and admirals expressed "profound concern" in a letter to members of the Senate about Haspel's nomination. But most crucially, we need to hear her renounce the use of waterboarding and other cruel interrogation techniques because there is no reason to believe the president she would serve would shy away from pressing for their use.

Despite spending 33 years in the CIA, Haspel faces questions about her role in enhanced interrogation tactics used to question terrorist detainees after 9/11.

She has reportedly said she would firmly oppose the reintroduction of any such programme, something Mr Trump has hinted at in the past.




Nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, center, sits alongside Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said, "Her nomination will not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU over the Central Intelligence Agency on how to keep the American people safe".

Haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the CIA, is the first career operations officer to be nominated to lead the agency in decades. His vote - already questionable because his health issues might keep him away - is critical, given Republicans 51-49 edge in the Senate.

The Post said some advisers had told Mr Trump her confirmation was unlikely.

Former President George W Bush had authorised the system, known as the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Programme, following the 9/11 attacks in the USA in 2001.

At least two al-Qaeda suspects, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were subjected to waterboarding at the Thailand site in 2002.

The 61-year-old has extensive overseas experience and has served as chief of station on several postings.

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