CIA nominee Haspel defends role in enhanced interrogation

But, she also told the committee, “we should hold ourselves to a stricter moral standard, and I would never allow CIA to be involved in coercive interrogations.”

Haspel also said, in written remarks released Wednesday as the hearing began, that she believed the agency had obtained “valuable intelligence” through enhanced interrogation techniques that had helped to prevent terrorist attacks.

“In my view, a view shared by all nine former directors and acting directors, the CIA was able to collect valuable intelligence that contributed to the prevention of further terrorist attacks. That said, it is impossible to know whether the CIA could have obtained the same information in another way,” Haspel said in response to a written question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

CIA nominee Haspel defends role in enhanced interrogation
CIA nominee Haspel defends role in enhanced interrogation

During the hearing, however, Haspel said, “I don’t believe that torture works.”

Trump said during the 2016 presidential race that he would support waterboarding, saying at one rally in 2015, “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would — in a heartbeat.” Still, Haspel said Wednesday that she did not believe Trump would ask her, if she were confirmed as CIA director, to order a suspected to be waterboarded.

“I would advise anyone who would ask me about it that CIA is not the right place to conduct interrogations. We don’t have interrogators and we don’t have interrogation expertise,” said Haspel, who after being pushed further to answer the question, said, “I would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA, under any circumstances.”

At the hearing, Haspel faced tough questions concerning her role using enhanced interrogation techniques after the 9/11 attacks and her destruction of tapes depicting those practices, actions which have drawn criticism and scrutiny on Capitol Hill since her nomination two months ago.

Democrats such as Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., ranking member on the committee, said they could not ignore the CIA’s past and Haspel’s involvement in it.

“What I am not willing to do, however, is to justify this dark period in our history or to sweep away the decision to engage in torture,” Warner said.

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