WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says he will vote “yes” to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Gina Haspel, the acting CIA director, took questions from members of the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
Manchin, who was part of that hearing, asked Haspel to think about how she felt during the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“It was very important to identify who was behind these attacks and to stop future attacks,” Haspel said, in part.
Haspel made a promise during her confirmation hearing, citing concerns about harsh tactics after 9/11 which created opposition to her getting the job.
“I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, on my watch, CIA will not restart a detention and interrogation program,” she said.
Haspel told Manchin conducing interrogations will not be handled by the CIA.
“I know you stated strongly and would be very compelled to tell the President ‘no, this is not something we do and it’s not our line of work,” Manchin said in an exchange with Haspel.
“I just think there are other U.S. government entities that are suited to holding detainees and that isn’t CIA,” she responded.
Manchin on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline” said he’s heard nothing but great things about Haspel and the work she’s done.
“When you have Leon Panetta and all of the people who have sat in that position before speaking on her behalf, that’s something to consider — those who know her best and watched her perform,” he said.
In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Manchin said he plans to support Haspel.
“After meeting with Gina Haspel, discussing her extensive experience as a CIA agent, and considering her time as Acting Director, I will vote to confirm her to be our next CIA Director. I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character. Over her 33 year career as a CIA operations officer, she has worked in some of the most dangerous corners of our world and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices she has made for our country. She has earned the trust of her colleagues in the intelligence community and her intellect, steady temperament, vast knowledge of threats we face, and dedication to our country are undeniable. These attributes make her supremely qualified to serve as our next CIA Director. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I take the role of oversight very seriously and I look forward to working with Gina Haspel to ensure the people of West Virginia and the United States are kept safe.”
If confirmed, Haspel will be the first female CIA chief.