The Slatest

Senate Democrats Provide Key Votes to Confirm Gina Haspel as CIA Director

Mark Warner looks downward while walking in what appears to be a dark hallway or stairwell.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner on Capitol Hill on May 16. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Gina Haspel, the CIA veteran who supervised the torture of a War on Terror detainee and helped order the destruction of videotapes depicting torture, has been approved by the Senate as the agency’s director. Two of the Senate’s 51 Republicans—Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul—voted against Haspel. Arizona Sen. John McCain was absent for medical reasons but said previously that Haspel should not be confirmed. Six Democrats—Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner—voted to confirm her.


As Jeff Stein of the Washington Post notes, Warner and Shaheen represent states that Hillary Clinton won—which, given the partisan breakdown of support for the use of torture, likely means that there was not particularly strong support for Haspel’s confirmation among their constituents. Several Democrats from deep-red states—Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and Montana Sen. Jon Tester—voted against Haspel.

Haspel said in a statement at her confirmation hearing that she would not allow the CIA to take part in any activities akin to the agency’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program even if ordered to do so. She said in a written statement to Warner that the interrogation program “ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world” but that she would not “condemn” those who ordered and carried it out.