Wednesday President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA Gina Haspel had a testy exchange with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Partial transcript as follows:
HARRIS: Thank you. So let’s just be clear. This hearing is not about the incredible importance of the service and sacrifice of the men and women of the CIA. That’s not what this hearing is about. This hearing is not about the importance of the agency’s mission. Both of which I wholeheartedly support. This hearing is about your suitability to be the director of the CIA, and in our responsibility to participate in choosing who will be the next director of the CIA. The mission that we have now includes understanding that who we choose will be a signal to the men and women of the agency, to the American people, and to our neighbors around the world about our values as Americans on critical issues that range from our adherence to a rule of law, to what we prioritize in terms of professional accountability in terms of our moral authority. As Americans and as a country. So one question I have not heard you answer is do you believe that the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?
HASPEL: Senator, I believe that CIA officers to whom you referred —
HARRIS: It’s a yes or no answer. Do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral? I’m not asking do you believe they were legal. I’m asking do you believe they were immoral?
HASPEL: Senator, I believe that CIA did extraordinary work to prevent another attack on this country given the legal tools that we were authorized to use.
HARRIS: Answer yes or no. Do you believe in hindsight those techniques were immoral?
HASPEL: What I believe sitting here today is I support the higher moral standard we decided to hold ourselves to.
HARRIS: Will you please answer the question?
HASPEL: Senator, I think I’ve answered the question.
HARRIS: You’ve not. Do you believe the previous techniques now armed with hindsight, do you believe they were immoral? Yes or no?
HASPEL: Senator, I believe that we should hold ourselves to the moral standard outlined in the Army Field Manual.
HARRIS: Okay. So I understand that you have not answered the question, but I’m going to move on.
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