Trump’s pick to lead CIA ‘to be totally transparent’ on involvement in torture practices, says top intelligence official

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The top US intelligence official has said Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA “plans to be totally transparent” when she explains her role in now-illegal torture practices.

Gina Haspel, currently deputy director of the CIA, is expected to face tough questions from senators during her upcoming confirmation hearing to lead the spy agency. Some legislators and activist groups have expressed concern over Ms Haspel’s nomination because of her ties to the CIA’s enhanced interrogation programme.

Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, told reporters that a lot of information has been mischaracterised regarding Ms Haspel’s involvement in the George W Bush administration’s use of the interrogation programme’s techniques in the post-9/11 era.

“Gina plans to be totally transparent in regards to this issue, and a lot of that has been mischaracterised,” Mr Coats said at a media breakfast, according to the Daily Beast. ” And I have looked deeply into this. And she will be making that fully available to the relevant committees,” Coats said. “I think a lot of the narratives in the public have been already released to indicate what is being alleged is simply not true.”

Last month, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote a letter to Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, asking him to declassify all documents and information relevant to Ms Haspel’s involvement in what the legislator called “one of the darkest chapters in American history”.

Mr Trump has nominated Mr Pompeo to succeed Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. 

Ms Haspel, who joined the CIA in 1985 and spent most of her career undercover, oversaw one of the agency’s “black site” detention centres in Thailand in 2002. During her tenure, two detainees were waterboarded and subjected to other, brutal forms of interrogation, according to a Senate report.

Mr Coats would not commit to fully declassifying all information on Ms Haspel’s involvement in the techniques, which are now considered illegal torture. 

“We want to declassify as much as possible without jeopardizing someone’s, what we call sources and methods, but every effort will be made to fully explain exactly what her role was and what wasn’t,” Mr Coats said.

In a letter, Republican Senator John McCain asked Ms Haspel for “clarification in writing on several matters that are essential” to the Senate’s consideration of her nomination to succeed Mr Pompeo.

Mr McCain was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam during the late 1960s and early 1970s.  He said the use of torture post-9/11 “compromised our values, stained our national honor, and threatened our historical reputation.”

A date for Ms Haspel’s confirmation hearing has not yet been set.