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Marco Rubio Condemns Fellow Lawmakers for Opposing Haspel’s Confirmation

Sen. Marco Rubio on Capitol Hill in November (Reuters photo: Joshua Roberts)

Senator Marco Rubio took issue with the partisan opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA during her confirmation hearing Wednesday, praising her professional record and questioning what effect that opposition would have on agency morale.

“Ms. Haspel, you embody everything that I respect and admire about the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency and I support you not just because of your qualifications but because I want a young CIA trainee…to know that they too can one day be sitting where are you sitting today and have the opportunity to lead this agency,” Rubio said during the confirmation hearing. “If someone like you cannot be confirmed to head this agency, then who can? If someone like you is smeared in this process, what message are we sending to the young men and women who are today serving our country in the same role in which you once served our country?”

 

Haspel’s nomination to replace Mike Pompeo, who left to take over as secretary of state, at Langley was met with staunch opposition from Democratic lawmakers, as well as Republicans senators John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who objected to her alleged role in administering the CIA’s now-defunct “enhanced interrogation” program. The 33-year-agency veteran vowed not to reimplement the program during the Wednesday hearing and said her views on its merits have evolved since the early 2000’s, though she would not explicitly condemn the Bush-era interrogation program as torture.

Lawmakers also questioned Haspel regarding her role in destroying tape recordings of interrogation sessions, a move she claimed was intended to protect the identities of CIA agents from terrorists.

“Our lawyers were very consistent in saying to us that there was no legal requirement to retain the tapes, no legal impediment to disposing of the tapes,” she said in response to a question about the tapes.

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