US CIA nominee reportedly tried to bow out of confirmation process

World Today

CIA Director Nominee Gina Haspel walks to her meeting with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, May 7, 2018. Haspel was meeting at the Capitol with senators whose support could be key to her confirmation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

United States President Donald Trump has been defending his pick to run the nation’s top spy agency.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

The CIA’s Acting Director, Gina Haspel, is expected to face a grilling this week over her role in the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program.

It used to involve waterboarding. At the time it was legal under the law but now, it isn’t.

Over the weekend, the United States media reported Haspel tried to withdraw her nomination.

With Haspel’s confirmation uncertain, the White House is defending her.

While much of Haspel’s past is classified, it’s clear that she was involved with a CIA interrogation program at a site in Thailand that used waterboarding to extract information from an al-Qaida suspect. The United Nations considers waterboarding torture. This greatly concerns some lawmakers.

Lawmakers are also concerned that she approved an order to destroy tapes of those interrogations.

The Trump administration began backing Haspel’s candidacy publicly on Friday less than a week before her hearing, with President Trump tweeting Monday she “was under fire” for being too tough on terrorists.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that Haspel tried to withdraw her nomination. Since then, other US newspapers and TV networks have also confirmed details. The White House spokesperson didn’t contradict those reports Monday.

“She wants to do everything she can so that the integrity remains intact isn’t necessarily attacked and if she felt her nomination would have been a problem for that and the agency then she would have wanted to do everything she can to protect it at the same time she wants to do everything to protect the safety and security of Americans and that’s why she’s 100 percent committed to going through this confirmation process and confirmed as the next leader of the CIA,” White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said.

Critics said Haspel’s association with an interrogation technique that many consider torture could undermine U.S. authority when it criticizes other nations about human rights.