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Senate panel advances Trump nominee Gina Haspel for head of CIA

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The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee approved President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, on Wednesday and she is expected to be confirmed by the full Senate as soon as next week as the spy agency’s first female director.

The panel voted 10-5 behind closed doors to back Haspel, which was expected after two of its seven Democrats, including Vice Chairman Mark Warner, said they would join the committee’s eight Republicans in backing Haspel.

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Haspel’s nomination moved ahead despite stiff opposition – including from at least three of Trump’s fellow Republicans – over her part in the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered torture, in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

 But she has also had strong support from the White House, and many current and former intelligence officials.
Richard Burr, the committee’s Republican chairman, praised Haspel in a statement after the vote, saying she “has acted morally, ethically, and legally” during her 33-year CIA career.

Republican Senator John McCain, who has been away from Washington all year as he battles brain cancer, urged the Senate not to vote for Haspel.

Tortured himself while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, McCain said the country should only use methods to keep itself safe that are “as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”

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Also on Wednesday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, from McCain’s home state of Arizona, said he would be a “no” vote when the full Senate decides on Haspel, citing the interrogation program and Haspel’s drafting of a cable ordering the destruction of videotapes of interrogations.

“While I thank Ms. Haspel for her long and dedicated service to the CIA, as a country we need to turn the page on the unfortunate chapter in the agency’s history having to do with torture,” Flake said in a statement.

Rights groups denounced the committee vote. Christopher Anders of the American Civil Liberties Union said the Senate panel was “rewarding a dark, criminal chapter of our history.”

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Besides Warner, at least five other Democrats have expressed support for Haspel. She needs a majority to be confirmed in the Senate, which Republicans control 51-49. Vice President Mike Pence can break a tie.

Haspel pledged at her confirmation hearing that she would never resume the harsh interrogations. She wrote to Warner on Monday and said the CIA should never have undertaken the program.

Trump nominated Haspel, then deputy director, in March to succeed Mike Pompeo as CIA director. Haspel became acting director after Pompeo was confirmed as secretary of state.

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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Ex-prosecutor demands congressional investigation after latest report on the FBI and Brett Kavanaugh

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Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh had another allegation of sexual misconduct revealed on Saturday in a bombshell report in The New York Times.

"A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly," the newspaper reported.

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Boris Johnson promises Britain will be like the Incredible Hulk during Brexit negotiations

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday he was making a "huge amount of progress" towards a Brexit deal with the EU, in an interview in which he compared Britain to the Incredible Hulk.

"It's going to take a lot of work between now and October 17" when EU leaders gather for their final summit before Britain's scheduled exit from the bloc, he told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"But I'm going to go to that summit and I'm going to get a deal, I'm very confident. And if we don't get a deal then we'll come out on October 31."

His comments came ahead of talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Luxembourg on Monday.

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NYT blasted for ‘spectacularly offensive sentiment’ after tweet illustrating ‘rape culture’

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The results of a 10-month investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly was published on Saturday.

But attention was taken away from the powerful reporting after the Twitter account of The Times opinion page posted a shocking message.

"Having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party may seem like harmless fun," read the tweet.

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