Gina Haspel was confirmed Thursday as CIA director, becoming the first woman to lead the agency and overcoming initial Democratic opposition regarding her role in post-9/11 interrogation and detention practices.
The Senate voted 54-45 to confirm President Trump’s nominee, with six Democrats supporting and two Republicans defecting. Haspel, whose nomination was endorsed by the Senate Intelligence Committee a day earlier, previously was deputy director and has spent her career with the agency.
Trump tweeted his congratulations after the vote.
Congratulations to our new CIA Director, Gina Haspel! pic.twitter.com/n1xj9LSV9D
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2018
Haspel earned emphatic support from GOP lawmakers as well as intelligence community members from both Democratic and Republican administrations.
“The safety and security of the American people depend on capable intelligence leadership. Gina Haspel is the right woman at the right time,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
But her history as base chief at a black-site prison in Thailand in 2002, where techniques such as waterboarding were used on terror suspects, came under scrutiny during the confirmation process. Republican supporters accused Democrats of politicizing her nomination and initially trying to derail an otherwise highly qualified nominee.
At her confirmation hearing last week, Democrats grilled her on her views on what they deemed torture, as well as objecting to what they saw as the CIA’s selective declassification about information on her. She was also questioned at length about the 2005 destruction of more than 92 interrogation tapes — a move she said she supported to ensure the safety of CIA agents.