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US Senate confirms Gina Haspel as CIA’s first woman director

She faced opposition earlier because of her links to the agency’s brutal interrogation techniques.

The United States Senate on Thursday confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominee, Gina Haspel, as the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency, AP reported. Trump nominated Haspel in March to succeed Mike Pompeo as CIA director after he was confirmed secretary of state.

Haspel faced opposition earlier because of her links to the CIA’s use of brutal interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, since the September 2001 attacks in the US. Republican Senator John McCain, who has been against her nomination, was absent for the vote.

The tally was 54-45 in favour of the nomination of Haspel, who is currently serving as the CIA’s acting director. Six Democrats joined the Republicans to vote for Haspel, however, two Republicans voted against her nomination.

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said Haspel had told him that the agency should have never resorted to enhanced interrogation techniques, and that she would never use such methods even if the president demanded.

“I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the president, who will speak truth to power if this president orders her to do something illegal or immoral, like a return to torture,” Warner said in a speech before the vote, according to BBC.

Haspel, 61, spent most of her career as an undercover operative for the CIA. In 2002, she was appointed to supervise a station in Thailand, where the agency reportedly used waterboarding interrogation techniques. She later ordered the destruction of the videotapes of those interrogations, Reuters reported.

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