Trump Defends 'Tough on Terror' CIA Nominee Days Before Confirmation Hearing

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Attorney David Irvine speaks at a meeting of Salt Lake Indivisible a grass-roots bipartisan group organizing against President Donald Trump. The meeting was held at Wasatch Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City Wedne

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"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists", Trump tweeted, referring to criticisms of Haspel's tenure overseeing a black site CIA prison in Thailand after 9/11, where detainees were subjected to brutal torture, including sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

The post became vacant after Mike Pompeo was appointed secretary of state last month.

"When the American people finally have a chance to see the true Gina Haspel on Wednesday, they will understand why she is so admired and why she is and will be a great leader for this agency", CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani said to the Post.

Gina Haspel - who has a long career in the CIA's clandestine service and now serves as its deputy director - ran the agency's "black box" interrogation cell in Thailand after the September 11 attacks.

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Heading into a confirmation hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, Gina Haspel is not expected to have an easy time winning support in a 51-49 party split in the Senate.

It's important to know Ms. Haspel's views on the Bush-era torture program and particularly to hear her side of the story on the destruction of videotapes of waterboarding.

"I need to do a lot of work on her nomination", Collins told HuffPost earlier this year about Haspel.

After her offer to withdraw, White House aides worked to reassure her that she had the president's support.

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"Ms. Haspel also appears to have strongly advocated for and played a key role in carrying out an order to destroy 92 videotapes of individuals in US custody being subjected to torture", the former leaders said in their letter.

CNN reported Monday that the White House had already pinpointed a replacement candidate to lead the spy agency if Haspel can not be confirmed.

National security officials and Republicans are preparing contingency plans behind the scenes should President Donald Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director nominee Gina Haspel fail to be confirmed, according to a Monday CNN report. On Friday Haspel was summoned to the White house for meetings to discuss its participation in the program of interrogation involving the use of various means, in particular simulated drowning, which is often characterized as torture. Haspel also received the support of the editorial boards of New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard. Feinstein as the senior Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Sanders added that Haspel is a "patriot" and a qualified candidate for the role.

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