Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released the following statement on the nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as CIA Director:
After careful consideration, I will vote for the confirmation of Gina Haspel to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Ms. Haspel is an accomplished intelligence professional who will bring 33 years of experience to her new role. She has dedicated her entire life to the service of our country and has performed extraordinarily well in a number of challenging positions – often, in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
Ms. Haspel has widespread support among the national security community. More than 50 leaders signed a bipartisan letter endorsing her nomination. The list includes eight former CIA Directors and Acting CIA Directors who were appointed by both Republican and Democratic Presidents, ranging from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Michael Morell, a former CIA Acting Director under President Obama, describes her as a person of ‘deep integrity,’ and John Brennan, another former CIA Director under President Obama, said she will provide ‘unvarnished, apolitical, objective intelligence input to Donald Trump and others.’
At the hearing, I questioned Ms. Haspel regarding the enhanced interrogation program that was started after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. I have long believed—and have consistently stated—that this program was completely unacceptable and that waterboarding is tantamount to torture. In fact, in 2015, I cosponsored the McCain-Feinstein amendment to the defense authorization bill to ensure that techniques such as waterboarding are never used again and that the Army Field Manual governs interrogations of detainees.
Ms. Haspel, who was not a high-ranking CIA official at the time, indicated that she played no role in the creation of the interrogation program and that she wasn’t even aware of its existence until more a year after it began. Furthermore, she said that she supported the 2015 law changes and made clear that she does not believe that the CIA should be in the “interrogation business.” She testified that under her leadership, the CIA would follow the law and would not resume enhanced interrogations, and that she would not seek to repeal the law.
Another issue I closely examined was Ms. Haspel’s role in the Agency’s decision to destroy tapes involving one detainee who was subjected to enhanced interrogation. The accountability review from then-Acting Director Morell exonerated Ms. Haspel and stated conclusively that it was the CIA’s then-Director of the National Clandestine Service who ordered the destruction of the tapes. As Mr. Morell, an Obama Administration appointee, stated:
Ms. Haspel did not destroy the tapes, she did not oversee the destruction of the tapes, and she did not order the destruction of the tapes.
I hope Ms. Haspel will be confirmed quickly, and I look forward to working with her in this new capacity to counter the wide range of national security challenges facing our country.