By Shane Harris and Karoun Demirjian | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after 9/11.

The agency launched an unprecedented public relations campaign to bolster Haspel’s chances. And she appears to have been helped by some last-minute arm-twisting by former CIA directors John Brennan and Leon Panetta, who contacted at least five Democrats, all of whom agreed to endorse her bid to join President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, according to people with knowledge of the interactions.

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Haspel has not had as close of a relationship with Trump as the CIA’s previous director, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is one of the president’s closest advisers, according to people with knowledge of Haspel and Trump’s interactions.

But she has been successful, to a degree, influencing the president’s stance toward Russia.

Following a nerve agent attack in Britain that American and British officials blamed on the Russian government, Haspel argued for a forceful response, which ultimately led to the U.S. expelling 60 Russian intelligence operatives and shuttering a Russian consulate in Seattle, people with knowledge of her role said. Haspel was a leading player in the multiagency response to the attack and advised the president to make a bold demonstration to counter Russia and stand with Britain, the United States’ closest intelligence ally, these people said.

Trump had wavered in his support for Haspel, at times expressing doubt in private meetings about whether she had the support to win confirmation, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Earlier this month, Haspel sought to withdraw after some White House officials worried her role in the CIA’s nomination program could derail her chances.

Trump decided to push for Haspel to stay in the running, after first signaling he would support whatever decision she made, administration officials said.

Haspel’s ascent to the top post in the nation’s most storied spy service says much about the CIA’s past and its future.

She will be the first woman to serve as director. When Haspel joined the CIA in 1985, there were fewer opportunities for women to live the life of a cloak-and-dagger operative that she found alluring. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News


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Senate votes to confirm Haspel to lead the CIA

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