Potential CIA Contender Hedges Her Role in Bush Era Torture Program

Trump CIA pick sought to withdraw over 'torture' concerns – report

Gina Haspel offered to withdraw after White House aides sought out additional details about her role in the CIA's now-defunct programme of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects after 9/11.

Haspel faces a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.

Trump named Haspel, the first woman tapped to head the agency, to succeed Mike Pompeo, who became secretary of state last month. She is expected to reiterate that publicly this week.

For Haspel, stepping down as the nominee would have meant that she would not have to attend the confirmation hearing.

On the opposing side are groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which says she should have stood up against the interrogation practices then. The 33-year-old veteran of the force served most of her career nearly entirely undercover and much of her record is classified.

Fearing that Wednesday's Senate confirmation hearing could shed unnecessary light on classified torture programs that could potentially amount to war crimes and taint her career and the work of the U.S. intelligence community, Haspel was allegedly ready to throw in the towel, before the White House and the CIA rushed to her aid over the weekend. She's not withdrawing her nomination.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, on Sunday called Haspel a highly qualified nominee.

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"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", the spokesperson said. Haspel drafted a cable approving the destruction that her boss ultimately sent to field officers, who fed the tapes into a shredding machine.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to guilt feminist Democrats into backing CIA deputy director Gina Haspel to head the agency - despite accusations of past support for waterboarding - because she's a woman.

By Saturday, Haspel had agreed to continue with her nomination, officials told the Post.

The release of the disciplinary review may persuade some lawmakers who had been undecided to support Haspel, said congressional officials tracking the nomination process.

Haspel's troubles come on the heels of Trump's Veterans Affairs debacle. The news was first reported on Sunday by The Washington Post.

As with other nominations, this one hit a roadblock but is back on track, said a third administration official familiar with the effort to get her confirmed.

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