President Donald Trump’s nominee to be CIA director says that she does not believe torture works and would not carry out any presidential order she thought was immoral.
Facing tough questioning by members of the Senate intelligence committee, Gina Haspel insisted her “moral compass is strong”.
If confirmed, she said she would not permit the CIA to restart the kind of harsh detention and interrogation programme the spy agency ran at black sites after 9/11 and tainted American’s image worldwide.
“I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” said Ms Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency.
“I would absolutely not permit it.”
Ms Haspel, who is currently acting CIA director, was responding to a question about what she would do if President Trump ordered her to do something she thought was morally objectionable.
President Trump has said he supports subjecting terror suspects to harsh interrogation tactics like waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and a “hell of a lot worse”.
“I don’t believe that torture works,” Ms Haspel said, adding that she does not think President Trump would ever ask her to resume waterboarding.
The 61-year-old intelligence professional, who has served in undercover assignments both domestically and abroad for more than three decades, faces what will likely be a close confirmation vote in the full Senate.
Her nomination has become contentious because she was chief of base of a covert detention site in Thailand where terror suspects were waterboarded.
There also have been questions about how she drafted a cable that her boss used to order the destruction of videotapes of interrogation sessions conducted at the site.