NBC News reports that the Democratic staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee prepared a “classified background document” on CIA director nominee Gina Haspel which was “disturbing” to some senators and their aides. Which is very nice and good to hear, considering she’s almost certainly going to get confirmed.
According to NBC News, the document—which was reportedly made available to senators and aides who had clearance—goes into detail on Haspel’s role in the torture program, and includes diplomatic cables and internal CIA traffic that weren’t brought up in her public confirmation hearing last Wednesday. The document also reportedly “describes comments by Haspel in support of the CIA’s brutal interrogation program at the time it was ongoing.”
According to NBC News, Haspel acknowledged in a closed doors hearing that “in retrospect, the harsh CIA interrogations eroded America’s standing in the world.”
The memo was reportedly drafted by an aide to Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat who vocally opposes Haspel’s nomination. According to NBC News, the memo was vetted by “CIA officers who took factual issue with some portions,” portions which were removed from the final document under the order from an aide to Sen. Mark Warner, the committee’s ranking Democrat who is considering voting for Haspel.
According to NBC News, the document “includes details some senators and aides have found disturbing,” but their report didn’t identify the senators who were supposedly bothered or their party. (NBC News did, however, mention that Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona had asked for “more information” before the Haspel vote.)
“I understand that what many people around the country want to know about me are my views on CIA’s former detention and interrogation program,” Haspel said in her opening remarks during her public confirmation hearing last Wednesday. “Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program.”
Either way, Haspel is almost certainly going to get confirmed as CIA director. While Republicans Rand Paul and John McCain announced their intention to vote against her, Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly have announced their intention to vote for Haspel, which means more Republicans would have to defect in order to sink her nomination. Gotta love that bipartisanship.