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Senate votes to confirm Gina Haspel as 1st female Central Intelligence Agency director

Senate votes to confirm Gina Haspel as 1st female Central Intelligence Agency director

CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel speaks during her confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Committee on Intelligence May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

The 54-45 vote split both parties, with six Democrats joining most Republicans in support of Haspel's nomination in the 100-member chamber.

Haspel's nomination moved ahead despite stiff opposition - including from at least three of Trump's fellow Republicans - over her part in the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, a type of simulated drowning widely considered torture, in the years after the September 11 attacks. Former top intelligence officials said she earned the chance to take the helm of the intelligence agency.

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday had recommended Haspel be confirmed as CIA director. McCain, who was captured and tortured in the Vietnam War, is at home in Arizona while battling brain cancer and did not vote. They said the USA needs to close the book forever on the program that marred America's image with allies overseas.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn said in a floor speech Thursday afternoon that the Senate would be voting soon.

Haspel pledged to lawmakers that she would not allow the Central Intelligence Agency to return to using such brutal interrogation techniques, and that she would refuse to do something unlawful.

The Senate intelligence committee has recommended that the full Senate confirm President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the CIA.

Her opponents said it wasn't right to promote someone who supervised a black site in Thailand.

Several senators said Haspel was not forthcoming in answering questions about her role in the torture program or the CIA's decision to destroy videotaped evidence of the sessions.

Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jeff Flake of Arizona were the two Republicans who voted against Haspel. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nelson of Florida. Ron Wyden of OR, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on the Senate floor Thursday. Later that day, Democratic Sen.

But Senate Democrat Elizabeth Warren insisted Haspel's past connection to practices now widely seen as torture should sound the alarm bell.

"Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing".

"I would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA", Haspel testified.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir has refused to apologize for the claim. The full Senate could hold a confirmation vote before the end of the week.

A 33-year veteran of the CIA, Haspel will be the first woman to lead the agency and is now serving as its acting director. She is expected to be confirmed after several Democrats joined most Republicans in saying they would back President Donald Trump's nominee.