WASHINGTON – Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to be CIA director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee during her confirmation hearing Wednesday that the intelligence agency had learned "tough lessons" from its use of brutal interrogation tactics against terror suspects in the wake of 9/11.
Senators want to know more about her decades as a spy and her involvement in the CIA's now-defunct program of detaining and brutally interrogating terror suspects.
"CIA has learned some tough lessons, especially when asked to tackle missions that fall outside our expertise," Haspel told the Senate panel. "For me, there is no better example of implementing lessons learned than what the agency took away from the detention and interrogation program."
Haspel assured lawmakers that on her watch the agency's controversial interrogation practices will remain a thing of the past
"It is important to recall the context of those challenging times immediately following 9/11," she testified. "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."
According to The New York Times, the 33-year CIA veteran's nomination was almost derailed last week when White House aides uncovered CIA message logs showing Haspel's support of those interrogation methods – tactics the spy agency has since renounced.
Concerned the revelations would once again draw the agency into a new controversy over one of the darkest periods in its history, Haspel offered to withdraw her name from consideration.
The Trump administration, however, is standing by its pick, conveying confidence that she will be confirmed.
"My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists," the president tweeted Monday.
"Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!" Trump charged.
My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
If confirmed, Haspel would be the first woman to run the agency.