Gina Haspel set to become first female director of Central Intelligence Agency

Haspel a 33-year CIA veteran has served as the agency's acting director since April 26 following former director Mike Pompeo's elevation to US Secretary of State

The US Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be director of the CIA, ending a bruising confirmation fight centred on her ties to the spy agency's past use of torture.

It was supported by 54 senators, 45 voted against, according to news Agency Reuters. "She is the right person to lead the courageous men and women of the CIA, has a clear-eyed vision for the future of the Agency, and I look forward to working with Ms. Haspel in the years to come to keep our country safe".

Pressed in her confirmation hearings, Haspel refused to divulge any details of her post-9/11 role overseeing the CIA's secret prison in Thailand, where Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded.

Before voting began, McConnell said Haspel "demonstrated candor, integrity and a forthright approach" throughout the confirmation process and "has quietly earned the respect and admiration" of intelligence community leaders at CIA headquarters and overseas.

However, her nomination was widely condemned after it was revealed she oversaw a torture program in the early 2000s and played a part in the deletion of interrogation footage. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida.

"What I can say is her classified comments about her background have been as troubling as her public testimony", Democratic Sen.

Republican Senator John McCain, who has been away from Washington all year while battling brain cancer, urged the Senate not to vote for Haspel. "Specifically, the law provides that no individual in United States custody may be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach that is not authorised by and listed in the Army Field Manual", she said.

Warner's vote also differed from Virginia's junior Senator, Tim Kaine, who voted Nay at the confirmation vote for Haspel.

Trump has congratulated Haspel over the appointment. "She appreciates the work of all Central Intelligence Agency officers - analysts, scientists, and support specialists, as much as she appreciates operations officers", Morell said in an online statement. Most Democrats and two Republicans opposed the nomination. They also had questions about her rejection of the now-banned techniques. "I have asked again and again for some justification for Ms. Haspel's self-serving classification decisions and every response I have received, in classified and unclassified settings, has convinced me further that those decisions have nothing to do with protecting sources and methods, and only to do with protecting her own image".

Meanwhile, two Senators who don't have to worry about answering to red-state voters during an election year extended their support for Haspel.

Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cast the deciding vote.

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