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Gina Haspel Sought to Withdraw Nomination Over Torture Role: Washington Post

"The takeaway for every United States Senator should be that they need a lot more information about Haspel than they're currently getting," says ACLU's Faiz Shakir

Gina Haspel

Gina Haspel speaks at the William J. Donovan Award Dinner, Oct. 2017. (Photo: The OSS Society/YouTube)

President Donald Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Gina Haspel, sought to withdraw her nomination on Friday amid concerns that details about her role in the agency's torture program would sink the possibility of a successful confirmation, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The Post reported: "Haspel told the White House she was interested in stepping aside if it avoided the spectacle of a brutal confirmation hearing on Wednesday and potential damage to the CIA's reputation and her own, the officials said."

According to the Post, citing information from four senior U.S. officials, Hapsel indicated her position to the White House when she was summoned there for a meeting to discuss that history. She then headed back to her CIA office. Later on Friday, senior White House aides including legislative affairs head Marc Short and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders engaged in discussions with her there lasting "several hours."

It was only Saturday when the White House learned she would be going through with the nomination.

"The takeaway for every United States Senator," commented Faiz Shakir,  the ACLU's national political director, "should be that they need a lot more information about Haspel than they're currently getting."

Sanders doubled down on her promotion of Haspel, tweeting on Saturday that there is "no one more qualified" and that "Any Democrat who claims to support women's empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite."

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) quipped back: "Perhaps I missed it, but I don't see being complicit in torture as part of the agenda for either women's empowerment or our national security."

The revelations come days after the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act demanding records related to "the new propaganda campaign that the CIA is now waging on behalf of Gina Haspel even as it hides her responsibility for torture and role in destruction of torture evidence."

Her confirmation hearing, set for May 9, was already expected to end with a close vote.

In the lead-up to the hearing, advocacy groups—who've said her confirmation would be a clear endorsement of torture—are sustaining their efforts to make sure senators block it. 

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