The Senate Thursday confirmed Gina Haspel as the first female director of the CIA following a rocky nomination process that reopened debate about one of the darkest chapters in the spy agency's history.
President Trump nominated Haspel to the post in Marc, in a tweet, while announcing that her predecessor, former Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, was being tapped to lead the State Department.
Haspel has been criticized for her role in a program that detained and interrogated terror suspects at covert sites overseas following 9/11.
Haspel faces opposition from a majority of Democrats and human rights groups for her role in the George W. Bush administration's interrogation and detention program, which critics say amounted to torture.
Six Democrats, however, were heartened by her pledge to never restart harsh interrogation programs even if Trump requested it.
Supporters cited Haspel's 33-year career at the agency.
"Gina Haspel has openly acknowledged that, as the Acting CIA Director, she is making the decisions about what gets declassified about herself and what does not".
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Two of the committee's seven Democrats have said they are supporting Haspel, including Virginia's Sen.
Republican Senator John McCain, who has been away from Washington all year while battling brain cancer, urged the Senate not to vote for Haspel. He said he worked closely with Haspel for almost seven years - until his retirement from the agency in 2013.
Ahead of the vote, McConnell said Haspel "demonstrated candor, integrity, and a forthright approach" during the confirmation process and that she "has quietly earned the respect and admiration" the intelligence community at home and overseas. Had all the Democratic senators stuck together, Haspel would not have been confirmed today. Jeanne Shaheen (NH), and Senate Intelligence Committee vice-chair Sen.
"In this position, she assists the D/CIA in managing intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign services", the CIA explained. Senator Ron Wyden of OR said on the Senate floor, "What I can say is her classified comments about her background have been as troubling as her public testimony".
When Trump nominated Haspel for the post, damning reports surfaced-which later proved to be false-about her tenure at the prison. Also in the midst of a fraught election year, Florida Senator Bill Nelson met with Haspel personally and said that he believed she would be fit to serve.
She will succeed Mike Pompeo as director.
McCain stated, "Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense".