- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Gina Haspel, the nominee to lead the CIA, said Wednesday that she did oversee destruction of 92 controversial tapes showing rough interrogations of suspected terrorists, but said her actions have been reviewed by three investigations and each of them found she acted properly.

Ms. Haspel also dispelled erroneous press reports that she herself appeared in the tapes as part of the interrogations.

But she defended the decision to erase the tapes as an important step to protect the CIA officers who were captured on the videos, engaged in what many observers described as torture of terrorism suspects, from retaliation by al Qaeda.

“We were extremely concerned about the security risk that was posed to our officers. We were aiming to do two things — to adhere to U.S. law but at the same time reach a resolution that would protect our officers,” she told the Senate intelligence committee.

President Trump has nominated Ms. Haspel, a longtime CIA operative and currently deputy director, to lead the agency after Mike Pompeo left to become State Department secretary.

The main question that has dogged her nomination has been the tapes, which she said showed interrogation of a single detainee.

Democrats said at the time the tapes were deleted in 2005 they were being sought by members of Congress and others looking into the CIA’s treatment of detainees.

Ms. Haspel said she didn’t see the tapes but knew CIA officers’ faces were captured, and that would have put them at risk at a time when leaks about the program were endemic.

Ms. Haspel said CIA lawyers said there was no legal obligation to keep the tapes, and she said two separate reviews had concluded the written records that were taken tracked closely with the tapes and were an acceptable permanent record.

She also said when she oversaw the tape deletions she was following the orders of her superior, the head of CIA’s clandestine operations. She said a House probe, a Justice Department probe and an internal CIA look at the incident all “found no fault with my actions.”

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