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Key Democrat backs Haspel for CIA director, virtually ensuring confirmation

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, announced Tuesday that he will support Gina Haspel's nomination as CIA director, a decision that will likely secure her confirmation.

Haspel has been a controversial choice, largely because she once ran a secret prison in Thailand where terrorism suspects were waterboarded after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Warner said deciding how to vote on Haspel was a "difficult decision," but he appreciated her recent letter that included more definitive criticism of the CIA's interrogation program, which was ended years ago.

"Over the last year I've had the opportunity to work with Ms. Haspel in her role as deputy director, and I have always found her to be professional and forthright with the Intelligence Committee," Warner said in a statement. "Most importantly, I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the president if ordered to do something illegal or immoral -- like a return to torture."

Two other Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., have already announced their support of Haspel.

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