President Donald Trump says his choice to run the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, “has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists.”
His tweet Monday morning came after news reports that Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination last week because White House officials worried about her role in the harsh interrogation of terror suspects.
“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 said.
As first reported by The Washington Post, Haspel was wary of a fierce Senate confirmation hearing that she believes could damage not only the CIA, but her own reputation.
The reports say senior Trump administration officials rushed to meet Haspel in her office at CIA headquarters to discuss her concerns, and as of late Sunday, her nomination was still on track.
“Her nomination will not be derailed by partisan critics who side with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) over the CIA on how to keep the American people safe,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said Sunday.
Haspel’s confirmation hearings open Wednesday.
Haspel is currently the acting CIA director and a 33-year veteran of the intelligence agency.
Although much of her activities over those years are classified, civil libertarians such as the ACLU and many Democrats say she should be disqualified because she ran a secret CIA detention center in Thailand. Two Islamic terror suspects were waterboarded there — a practice that simulates drowning, which critics call torture.
The Associated Press reported that in her meetings with senators ahead of her confirmation hearings, Haspel assured them that as CIA director, she would stand up against bringing back such brutal techniques. She is likely to repeat that assurance during the hearings.
A CIA spokesman said the lawmakers and public will see “the true Gina Haspel” Wednesday and see why, according to the spokesman, she is admired would make a great intelligence chief.