Baldwin votes against CIA nominee Haspel; Johnson supports
By SCOTT BAUER
May. 17, 2018
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Thursday voted against confirming President Donald Trump's pick to lead the CIA, despite a Republican opponent accusing Baldwin of being part of "Team Terrorists" for not backing the nominee.
Baldwin said in a statement the fact that Gina Haspel wouldn't say torture is immoral during her Senate confirmation hearing is disqualifying. She noted that her position aligned with that of Republican Sen. John McCain, himself a victim of torture during the Vietnam War.
"American military officials have made clear that torture undermines our national security and puts our troops at risk, so our leaders must make it clear that torture is not consistent with our American values," Baldwin said.
She stated her position just before the Senate voted 54-45 to confirm Haspel. McCain was absent. Wisconsin's other senator, Republican Ron Johnson, voted to confirm Haspel.
Baldwin's silence on Haspel led state Sen. Leah Vukmir, a Republican challenging Baldwin, to claim that the Democrat was part of "Team Terrorists" for not voicing support for Haspel.
Vukmir said in a statement that Baldwin was an "extreme liberal who would rather keep the CIA's top job open - to the delight of terrorists and our enemies - rather than do the right thing."
Both Vukmir and her Republican challenger, former Marine Kevin Nicholson, support Haspel.
Nicholson spokesman Brandon Moody said in a statement that Baldwin's "rhetoric on this appointment isn't credible because she doesn't take our nation's security seriously."
Baldwin came to her decision after meeting with Haspel on Thursday and reviewing both her record at the CIA and classified materials provided to senators.
"While I appreciate her commitment to public service, I have serious concerns about the role Ms. Haspel played in the CIA's rendition, detention and so-called enhanced interrogation program," Baldwin said.
Haspel's nomination reopened debate about the CIA's now-defunct program of detaining terror suspects overseas at secret lock-ups and subjecting them to harsh interrogation techniques. Haspel supervised one of those detention sites in Thailand, but details of her work there have not been declassified.
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP