Senate Panel Approves Gina Haspel As CIA Chief; Confirmation Appears Likely : Parallels The intelligence committee approved her 10-5. With several Democrats backing Haspel, she looks headed for confirmation in the full Senate despite her role in the CIA's waterboarding program.
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Senate Panel Approves Gina Haspel As CIA Chief; Confirmation Appears Likely

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Senate Panel Approves Gina Haspel As CIA Chief; Confirmation Appears Likely

Senate Panel Approves Gina Haspel As CIA Chief; Confirmation Appears Likely

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/611574553/611727875" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Gina Haspel is on track to become the first woman to lead the CIA. The Senate Intelligence Committee today recommended that the full chamber confirm her. In a moment, we'll speak with a committee member, who says the decision was hard. But in the end, he gave his support to Haspel. First, let's talk about what happens next with NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre. Hi, Greg.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What do we expect to happen in the full Senate?

MYRE: She's going to win. What we're seeing here is it's not entirely along party lines. You have a couple Republicans in Rand Paul and John McCain saying that she was involved in waterboarding and torture and that this disqualifies her. But she's got the support of at least five Democratic senators, several of them up for reelection this year. So we're expecting a vote possibly tomorrow, maybe next week. It does look like she's going to get through.

SHAPIRO: Of course, torture was the big sticking point in her nomination. If she is confirmed, does that effectively put the issue to rest?

MYRE: Well, she's one of a generation of CIA officers who've been involved or are linked to the program. And we saw a lot of resistance from human rights groups and former diplomats, ex-military officers. And in her hearing, she was very defensive about this. She came out and wrote a letter this week saying the - this was something the CIA should not have done, which is beyond what she did at her hearing. But the law is clear here. It - torture, waterboarding is illegal now. It's not this sort of fuzzy gray area that it was in the early 2000s.

SHAPIRO: This Haspel nomination at the CIA was part of a bigger reshuffling of President Trump's national security team, Pompeo replacing Tillerson at the Department of State, John Bolton coming in as national security adviser. Is he done now?

MYRE: For the moment.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

MYRE: You probably never want to get too comfortable in your chair in Donald Trump's administration.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) OK.

MYRE: But we are seeing this - you know, all of this movement. I think these are people that the president feels more comfortable with. In Bolton and Pompeo, he certainly elevated a couple hard-liners. We may see that in policy, both in tone and substance. So that's something to be looking for now that he does seem to have this new team in place.

SHAPIRO: And before I let you go, Greg, I want to ask you about Russia because the Senate Intelligence Committee today again said it accepts the intelligence community's account that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. Gina Haspel was part of the intelligence community. Was she involved in this?

MYRE: As far as we can tell, probably not. In 2016, she was a station chief in Europe. So we don't know for sure that she was involved in any way. But the important thing here or interesting thing is she grew up studying the Soviet Union in the CIA, as much of the agency did back in the '80s and '90. Then she sort of transitioned to counterterrorism. But now she's sort of come full circle. She's becoming, or about to become, head of the CIA at a time when Russia's again at the forefront of the concerns.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Greg Myre. Thanks a lot.

MYRE: Thanks, Ari.

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