Politics

McCain: Senate Should Reject Gina Haspel Over Torture Involvement

Arizona Republican made statement following Wednesday’s hearing

Gina Haspel, nominee to be director of the CIA, and Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, arrive in Hart Building for meetings with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and other senators on Monday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain wants the Senate to reject the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Arizona Republican, who has been home in Arizona battling brain cancer and related ailments, said in a statement he was not satisfied by Haspel’s responses regarding her involvement in the agency “enhanced interrogation” effort during the George W. Bush administration.

“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense. However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,” McCain said Wednesday night. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

The statement came hours after Haspel testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in both open and closed settings.

McCain, who faced torture during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, said the current acting director who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to run the agency did not sufficiently confront “the mistakes the country made in torturing detainees held in U.S. custody” after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

 “Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked. I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty,” McCain said. “But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”

Earlier Wednesday, the path appeared to clear for Haspel’s confirmation with the announcement of support by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

Watch: Haspel Faced Protesters, Questions on Interrogation

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.