WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s nominee to be CIA director, Gina Haspel, said the agency should not have undertaken a past harsh interrogation program, while asserting that the program yielded “valuable intelligence.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee is due to vote on Wednesday on whether to approve Haspel.
Despite criticism of her nomination because of her past ties to the CIA’s former rendition, detention and interrogation activities, Haspel is expected to be approved with the support of all eight committee Republicans and at least one of its seven Democrats.
She is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as next week, although that vote likely also will be close.
Haspel pledged at her confirmation hearing that she would never restart the program, in place in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but did not go as far as saying it should not have been started.
An undercover officer for most of her 33-year career, Haspel in 2002 served as CIA station chief in Thailand, where the agency conducted interrogations at a secret prison using methods including waterboarding, which is widely viewed as torture.
Three years later, she drafted a cable ordering the destruction of videotapes of those interrogations.
“While I won’t condemn those that made those hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel said in a letter, dated May 14, and released on Tuesday.
“With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior Agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken. The United States must be an example to the rest of the world, and I support that,” Haspel said in a letter to Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Warner has not yet said whether he will support Haspel’s nomination.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler