• Gina Haspel, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency, will go before the Senate Intelligence Committee for her confirmation hearing at 9:30 a.m.
• Senators want to know more about her decades as a spy, particularly her oversight of the torture of a suspected Qaeda member at a secret prison in Thailand and her strong advocacy for destroying videotapes that documented brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects.
• Ms. Haspel planned to say that she would not allow such a program to be started again.
• The Trump administration is conveying confidence that Ms. Haspel, who would be the first woman to run the agency, will be confirmed.
A Veteran Spy, and a Résumé That Includes Torture
Few dispute that Ms. Haspel, a 33-year C.I.A. veteran, has the experience to run the agency. At issue is her involvement in the rendition, detention and interrogation program that the agency developed in the frantic hunt for the conspirators in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The C.I.A. long ago repudiated the program, which included waterboarding and other methods banned by law, and many senators say they are looking to Ms. Haspel to do the same.
“Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, C.I.A. will not restart such a detention and interrogation program,” she planned to say, according to excerpts from prepared remarks released by the C.I.A. on Tuesday night. She did not directly address her role in the interrogations or the torture of suspected militants by others at the agency.
In late 2002, Ms. Haspel was dispatched to oversee a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand code-named Cat’s Eye. While she was there, C.I.A. contractors waterboarded Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Qaeda suspect accused of orchestrating the bombing of the American destroyer Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000.
Critics, including some senators on the committee, say her willingness to employ brutal methods to extract information — including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and confining prisoners in boxes — should disqualify her.
The sessions carried out at the prison in Thailand — including many conducted when Ms. Haspel was not there — were videotaped and the recordings stored in a safe at the C.I.A. station there until 2005, when they were ordered destroyed. By then, Ms. Haspel was serving at C.I.A. headquarters, and it was her name that was on the cable carrying the destruction orders. The agency maintains that the decision to destroy the recordings was made by Ms. Haspel’s boss at the time, Jose Rodriguez, who was the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service.
Last week, Ms. Haspel briefly considered withdrawing her nomination over fears that the White House would not fully support her because of her role in the interrogation program. She changed her mind only after Mr. Trump and top aides reassured her.
Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the interrogations and destroying evidence of them already once hindered her career. In 2013, the C.I.A. wanted to name Ms. Haspel to run clandestine operations, but Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the Democrat who was then the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, blocked the promotion because of her work in Thailand.
Her Chances of Confirmation
After her wavering last week and in anticipation of contentious moments at her hearing, Senate Republicans urged their colleagues on Tuesday to confirm Ms. Haspel but dismissed calls from Democrats for more sensitive information about her career to be made public.
“That has never happened in the history of the C.I.A., and it’s not going to happen with Gina Haspel’s nomination,” Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, told reporters.
Several prominent members of the Republican-controlled Senate have indicated they are likely to object to Ms. Haspel’s confirmation, primarily over her role in the agency’s use of torture. They include Ms. Feinstein; Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky; and Senator John McCain, an influential Republican from Arizona and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Mr. McCain’s dissent would normally be potent, but he is being treated for brain cancer and is not expected to be in Washington to vote or to try to persuade Republican colleagues to join his objection.
That leaves at least two key members of the Intelligence Committee to watch: Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican who often breaks with Mr. Trump; and Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who has sided with the president.
If Ms. Collins indicates she is leaning against Ms. Haspel, she could provide cover for Mr. Manchin and other moderate Democratic senators to vote no, sinking her candidacy. But if Ms. Collins signals that she is satisfied with Ms. Haspel’s answers and intends vote yes, at least some Democrats — enough to secure a positive vote on the Senate floor — are likely to make a political calculation that they must follow suit.
An Overt Influence Campaign
Inside the C.I.A., many see Ms. Haspel as the agency’s best chance to keep Mr. Trump from installing a political partisan as director. So the agency took a page from its own book of spycraft and ran an overt campaign of influence to promote a more positive view of Ms. Haspel.
The agency has declassified secrets about her life as a globe-trotting spy and encouraged former clandestine officers, typically expected to remain quiet even in retirement, to grant interviews. It sought to generate favorable news coverage by providing selective biographical details about Ms. Haspel to reporters, then sent a news release to highlight the resulting articles.
Former intelligence officials, including Democratic appointees like John. O. Brennan, who ran the C.I.A. under President Barack Obama, have publicly urged the Senate to confirm her.
And shortly after her nomination was announced in March, the C.I.A. engaged in a Twitter storm, selectively describing her life and career.
The agency revealed that Ms. Haspel was born in Ashland, Ky., and is the oldest of five children and that she had to put up with male colleagues who were unaccustomed to seeing a woman take charge in dangerous corners of the world.
The agency said she joined its counterterrorism center on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks, and it played up the experience she earned helping lead the fight against Al Qaeda. It said nothing about her role in Thailand or the destruction of videotapes documenting torture.
Still, many of Ms. Haspel’s critics remained unswayed. A number of senators have repeatedly hammered the C.I.A. for not declassifying more details about Ms. Haspel’s career. A group of former generals said her role in the interrogation program meant she was not fit to lead the C.I.A. And even some former spies have said they are uneasy with the way the C.I.A. has sought to promote Ms. Haspel: One called it “kind of creepy.”
In her own statement to senators on Wednesday, Ms. Haspel planned to promote her experience as a spy.
“From my first days in training, I had a knack for the nuts and bolts of my profession,” she will say, according to the prepared remarks. “I excelled in finding and acquiring secret information that I obtained in brush passes, dead drops or in meetings in dusty back allies of third-world capitals.”