- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Gina Haspel’s path to be the next director of the CIA got easier Wednesday after Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, said he’ll vote to confirm her.

Mr. Manchin, who is a member of the intelligence committee that grilled Ms. Haspel Wednesday about her career, qualifications and approach to the spy agency, said she’s earned the trust of her colleagues.

“I have found Gina Haspel to be a person of great character,” Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, said in a statement. “Over her 33 year career as a CIA operations officer, she has worked in some of the most dangerous corners of our world and I have the utmost respect for the sacrifices she has made for our country.”

Ms. Haspel was likely to need Democratic support to clear, given the tight margins in the Senate and likely opposition from at least one Republican. Mr. Manchin gives the GOP that cushion.

Other Democrats during Wednesday’s hearing accused Ms. Haspel of trying to hide the CIA’s history of enhanced interrogations of terrorism suspects, and of refusing to condemn those past practices as immoral.

Ms. Haspel said they are now illegal and said the CIA should not be engaged in that sort of interrogation, which many say is equivalent to torture, but would not second-guess agency leaders who pursued those tactics in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Mr. Manchin’s support means Ms. Haspel should clear the intelligence committee easily, and now appears to have enough votes to gain a majority on the Senate floor, barring any other GOP defections.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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