WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) released the following statement on the nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as CIA Director:
“There is no question that our intelligence professionals are America’s first line of defense against serious international threats, and as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I have spent the last five and a half years working with my colleagues to ensure those on the front line have the tools they need to protect our nation – including a CIA Director who knows the Agency and will empower his or her staff to do their jobs and defend the country. By many accounts from intelligence professionals, Gina Haspel is a qualified, experienced CIA veteran, who has the respect of CIA’s staff. If that were the only criteria for this position, I would vote to confirm – but there are additional and important circumstances of her service to weigh.
“Another important piece of my work on the Senate Intelligence Committee is conducting oversight of the Intelligence Community to ensure these agencies are living up to America’s values. In reviewing Acting Director Haspel’s nomination to lead CIA, this becomes a serious consideration due to questions regarding her reported involvement with CIA’s detention and interrogation program and the destruction of videotapes related to the program. When I voted to declassify the Committee’s report on the program in 2014, I wrote about my serious concerns regarding the destruction of videotapes documenting interrogation sessions and said that those involved in the decision to destroy those records against the clear direction of senior U.S. officials should no longer be leading the Agency.
“There are still serious questions that have not received the benefit of public scrutiny, as CIA – under Acting Director Haspel’s leadership – has been slow to disclose important information regarding her service. Her performance before the Intelligence Committee also presented challenges to fully understanding her record; rather than giving forthcoming answers, I found some of her responses to be narrowly-crafted and evasive. 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.
“The difficulty of these decisions is that I cannot vote for half a nominee. I cannot support Acting Director Haspel’s decorated career with CIA without also condoning her involvement in the destruction of videotapes showing detainee interrogations – destruction that occurred at the very moment of intense public and Congressional scrutiny. 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.”