The US Senate has approved the CIA’s first female director, despite her role in the spy agency’s post-9/11 interrogation programme.
Gina Haspel’s confirmation in a 54-45 vote follows a partisan fight among senators about the CIA’s Bush-era use of techniques such as waterboarding.
Ms Haspel, a CIA veteran, once oversaw a so-called black site in Thailand after the 11 September attacks.
The former CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, left to become US Secretary of State.
Republican senator John McCain – who was tortured during his more than five years in a Vietnamese prison – had earlier announced his opposition to US President Donald Trump’s nominee.
On Wednesday, one prominent Democrat said he would cross party lines to vote to confirm her.
Virginia Senator Mark Warner said Ms Haspel had indicated the agency should never have used so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
He said she had pledged never to use such methods even if the president demanded it.
“I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the president, who will speak truth to power if this president orders her to do something illegal or immoral, like a return to torture,” he said in a speech before the vote.
A 33-year-veteran of the agency, Ms Haspel spent most of her career as an undercover operative.
In 2002, she was selected by the agency to run a “black site” in Thailand where harsh interrogation techniques that a Senate report deemed to be torture were used.
Three years later, Ms Haspel ordered the destruction of video tapes that documented the interrogations.
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