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CIA nominee Haspel to pledge not to restart detention, interrogation programs: sources

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice for CIA chief is privately assuring senators that she will not reinstitute a detention and interrogation program and will make the pledge publicly at her May 9 confirmation hearing, two sources said on Friday.

Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel plans to give the commitment in her “opening statement and she has been telling members that as well,” a congressional aide told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

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Word of the pledge comes as Haspel’s nomination encounters opposition over her role in a now-defunct program in which the agency detained and interrogated al Qaeda suspects in secret prisons overseas using techniques widely condemned as torture.

An administration official confirmed that Haspel has been pledging in private interviews with senators that she will never allow the CIA to revive a detention and interrogation program.

She also is telling them that all U.S. government agencies involved in interrogations should observe the standards set in a U.S. Army field manual on interrogations, said the administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

 Daniel Hoffman, a former senior CIA official who knows Haspel well, said he believed she has learned valuable lessons from the aftermath of the harsh interrogation program.
“She has an extraordinary level of expertise in counterterrorism programs, including this chapter in our history,” Hoffman said. “She has absorbed the lessons learned.”

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Trump named Haspel, the first woman tapped to head the agency, to succeed Mike Pompeo, who became secretary of state on Thursday. She faces a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on May 9.

Rachel Cohen, a spokeswoman for the top Democrat on the panel, Senator Mark Warner, said: “As far as Senator Warner is concerned, a commitment to following the law is not a cause for celebration, but a prerequisite for consideration.”

A public vow by Haspel not to reinstitute a detention and interrogation program would be significant, especially since Trump said last year that torture “absolutely” works and he would be open to its use if recommended by top aides.

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Her public commitment also could help ease some senators’ reservations prompted by her oversight in 2002 of a secret “black site” in Thailand where detainees underwent waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other brutal techniques.

Then-President George W. Bush authorized the so-called Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Haspel, who served as an undercover intelligence officer for more than 30 years, has won the support of dozens of former senior U.S. officials.

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Last week, the CIA released a 2011 memo showing that the agency’s then-deputy director, Michael Morell, had cleared Haspel of wrongdoing in the destruction of videotapes depicting the harsh interrogation of an al Qaeda suspect.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and several other Democrats have questioned her suitability to be director, and they were angered last week by the CIA’s refusal to declassify more details of her career.

The CIA said that it would work with the committee to make materials that still are classified available to senators in a secure facility and that it is committed to transparency “with the full Senate.”

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Reporting by Jonathan Landay; editing by Jonathan Oatis and James Dalgleish


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Millions around the world joined #ClimateStrike — demanding bold climate action

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Masses of children skipped school Friday to join a global strike against climate change that teen activist Greta Thunberg said was "only the beginning" in the fight against environmental disaster.

Some four million people filled city streets around the world, organizers said, in what was billed as the biggest ever protest against the threat posed to the planet by rising temperatures.

Youngsters and adults alike chanted slogans and waved placards in demonstrations that started in Asia and the Pacific, spread across Africa, Europe and Latin America, before culminating in the United States where Thunberg rallied.

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Trump announces new sanctions on Iran — and deploys US troops to the Middle East

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The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.

Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.

The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.

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‘Do a lot of stupid sh*t as quickly as possible’: Ambassador Power breaks down ’The Trump Doctrine’

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The former ambassador to the United Nations explained "The Trump Doctrine" during a Friday evening interview with comedian Bill Maher on HBO's "Real Time."

Samantha Power, the author of the new book, The Education of an Idealist, was asked by Maher about the foreign policy mantra of the Obama administration.

"Obama's foreign policy doctrine was famously summarized as 'don't do stupid sh*t," Maher noted. "Trump's, of course, is 'Do stupid sh*t.'"

"Do stupid sh*t as quickly as possible," Power clarified.

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