Maine's U.S. Senators At Odds Over Haspel Nomination

May 10, 2018

After extensive questioning of President Trump's nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Maine's two U.S. senators have come to different conclusions about whether to confirm Gina Haspel for the post.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins says she plans to vote yes.  "Ms. Haspel is an accomplished intelligence professional who will bring 33 years of experience to her new role.  She has dedicated her entire life to the service of our country and has performed extraordinarily well in a number of challenging positions – often, in some of the most dangerous places in the world," Collins says, in a statement released after Wednesday's hearing.

Collins questioned Haspel about her involvement in the so-called enhanced interrogation program initiated after the terrorist attacks of 2001, a program Collins had opposed. Collins says she was satisfied that Haspel "made clear that she does not believe that the CIA should be in the 'interrogation business.'  She testified that under her leadership, the CIA would follow the law and would not resume enhanced interrogations, and that she would not seek to repeal the law."

But that was not enough to satisfy Sen. Angus King, an independent. "I found some of her responses to be narrowly-crafted and evasive," King says, in a statement. "While Acting Director Haspel did assert that she would refuse to restart CIA’s detention and interrogation program, she did not provide much needed clarity about her reported role overseeing the program or the destruction of the videotapes."

Those videotapes, showing interrogations of detainees, were destroyed as the enhanced interrogation program was coming under public scrutiny, King says.

"So, following my private meeting with Acting Director Haspel, extensive study of classified and unclassified documents, discussions with intelligence professionals, her testimony before our Committee, and after hearing from hundreds of concerned citizens in Maine, I have concluded that I do not believe she is the right person to lead this important agency, and will vote no on her nomination,” King says.

After the Senate Intelligence Committee issues its recommendation on Haspel's nomination, the full Senate will decide whether to confirm the career CIA operative to lead the agency.