Gina Haspel offered to withdraw nomination as next Central Intelligence Agency director

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel waves as she arrives for her meeting

We should be thrilled that the woman behind this major counterterrorism success has been nominated to become the first female director of the CIA - and only the second person ever to rise to the agency's top post after spending her entire career in clandestine operations.

Whether the Central Intelligence Agency is necessary is debatable, but if you are going to support its existence it is hard to single out Haspel as someone unfit to lead it.

An undercover officer for most of her more than 30-year career, Haspel in 2002 briefly served as CIA station chief in Thailand, where the agency ran one of the secret prisons where suspected al Qaeda extremists were interrogated using procedures that included waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

The social change network CREDO Action urged progressives to call members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and demand that they vote against Haspel's confirmation, while in Washington, D.C., human rights groups mobilized to rally outside the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday ahead of the hearing. Trump was reportedly told about Haspel on Friday, and he made a decision to push her to stay as the nominee.

But Haspel's opponents, including human rights groups and some former military and intelligence officials, say the Central Intelligence Agency hasn't fully disclosed her role in "enhanced interrogation" programs after the September 11 attacks.

Her nomination has come in for criticism even from Republicans, with Senator John McCain having said she needed to explain her involvement in one of the "darkest chapters in American history". "Any Democrat who claims to support women's empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite". The New York Times reported that the White House has seen newly released documentation including records of chats in the CIA's internal messaging system in which Haspel raises no objections to the CIA's interrogation techniques.

'[In] my meetings with Gina, she was 100 per cent committed to being the best nominee we could find, ' Short said. It will be hard for the people who work for her to hear that.

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Administration officials are focusing on Democrats from states where Trump has strong support.

None of the intelligence committee's seven Democrats has publicly backed Haspel because of concerns about her role in the now-defunct Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program former President George W. Bush authorized after the September 11 attacks.

The CIA itself has conducted an unusual lobbying campaign on Haspel's behalf, reflecting the agency's desire to have an insider in charge rather than risk a political appointee.

"This is a woman who has been a leader wherever she has gone", Trump said Tuesday in a Twitter posting. Senate Democrats have charged that they were "disturbed" by the classified information they were reading about Haspel.

Haspel, according to two sources, has assured intelligence panel senators in private interviews that she will never restart any CIA detention and interrogation program, and will make the pledge publicly at Wednesday's hearing.

The White House is pressuring lawmakers to confirm Ms Haspel.

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