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The Latest: Haspel says CIA drew ‘tough lessons’ from 9/11

Gina Haspel
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on CIA nominee Gina Haspel (all times local):

10:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the next CIA director says the spy agency learned “tough lessons” from its use of harsh detention and interrogation tactics on terror suspects after 9/11.

Gina Haspel says that in hindsight it’s clear that the spy agency was not prepared and did not have the expertise to use techniques like sleep deprivation and waterboarding, which simulates drowning, to get terror suspects to talk.

Haspel is giving her opening remarks at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence committee.

She says that if she’s confirmed, she will follow the clear and legal framework the U.S. has since imposed that bans any corrosive tactic not spelled out in the Army Field Manual.

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10:20 a.m.

The woman nominated to be the next CIA director says that when she saw a video of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center in New York, she knew “in my gut” that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was to blame.

Gina Haspel says she got up from her desk on 9/11 and, like many other CIA officers, walked over to the spy agency’s Counterterrorism Center to volunteer to help. She says she didn’t leave for three years.

She says that after 9/11, man men and women at the CIA worked seven days a week and that some postponed weddings and having babies. She says the first CIA personnel on the ground in Afghanistan were her colleagues.

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10:10 a.m.

Former senators Evan Bayh and Saxby Chambliss have introduced CIA nominee Gina Haspel at her confirmation hearing.

Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana, and Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia, served on the Senate intelligence committee during Haspel’s tenure at the CIA.

Chambliss says he traveled overseas extensively during his time on the committee, and never were lawmakers “less than significantly impressed by the leadership” she provided to the CIA.

He says criticism from some of her work at the CIA’s counterterrorism center is “very troubling.” He says responsibility for the center’s work rested with the commander-in-chief of the United States and senior CIA leaders, “not Gina Haspel.”

Bayh says that for 33 years Haspel has worked to defend America from those who would harm it.

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9:55 a.m.

The Republican chairman of a Senate panel is praising President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as the next director of the CIA.

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina is telling Gina Haspel that she is “without a doubt, the most qualified person the president could choose to lead the CIA and the most prepared nominee in the 70-year history of the agency.”

Haspel is facing opposition from some Democrats and many rights groups who are critical of her activities related to the shredding of interrogation videotapes in 2005 and her stint at a covert detention site in Thailand where two detainees were waterboarded, which simulates drowning.

Burr says some may seek to turn her nomination into a trial about a long-shuttered program. But he says Haspel has acted “morally, ethically and legally” over her 30-year career.

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9:30 .am.

A handful of protesters are being arrested before a confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as director of the CIA.

The protesters began yelling, “stop the torture, stop the torture” and “don’t reward torture.” U.S. Capitol Police quickly removed them from the hearing room where members of the Senate intelligence committee are holding a confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel.

The protesters were among the first to be allowed into the hearing room and wore signs that read “No Torture No Gina” and “Don’t Reward Torturers.”

Haspel is facing opposition from some Democrats and many rights groups who are critical of her activities related to the shredding of interrogation videotapes in 2005 and her stint at a covert detention site in Thailand where two detainees were waterboarded, which simulates drowning.

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12:27 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s nominee for CIA director is vowing she would not restart a detention and harsh interrogation program like the one used after 9/11 if she is confirmed to lead the spy agency.

Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing is scheduled Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The CIA position opened up when former director Mike Pompeo was elevated to secretary of state.

Haspel will face tough questions from senators who want details of her time running a covert detention site where terror suspects were brutally interrogated and seek an explanation for why she wanted videos of the sessions destroyed.

Haspel’s promise to fight any attempt to resurrect the program could put her at odds with Trump, who has vowed to authorize waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse.”

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