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Expect Tough Questions For Kentucky Native Picked To Head CIA

CIA via AP
This March 21, 2017, photo provided by the CIA, shows CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel.

National security officials are reportedly drawing up contingency plans should President Donald Trump’s nominee to the head the CIA, Gina Haspel, bow out under pressure from her critics. The Kentucky native is running into bipartisan resistance from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including the commonwealth's own Sen. Rand Paul.

Republicans are bracing for a heated confirmation battle this week as a cloud of uncertainty hovers over Haspel’s nomination. CNN reports the hearings appears on track for the time being, despite unease about the questioning she’s likely to face over her role in controversial interrogation tactics adopted in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The Ashland-born intelligence officer offered to withdraw from consideration Friday, according to the Washington Post, but apparently reconsidered after discussions with top White House officials.

Sen. Rand Paul – a key swing vote in the recent confirmation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – told WUKY last week he’s a solid “no” on Haspel.

"(Arizona Senator) John McCain and I don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, but he is the only guy in the Senate who was tortured and he thinks torture and waterboarding is a bad idea," the Bowling Green lawmaker said during a trip through Lexington Friday. "And so I think we just shouldn't reward somebody who was a big participant in that in the top job."

Trump sought to bolster the case for his embattled nominee in a Monday tweet, arguing she’s under fire because was “too tough on terrorists.” Yet detractors argue Haspel’s oversight of a so-called CIA "black site" where extreme interrogations took place puts a dark period in the country's fight against terrorism back in the spotlight and further tarnishes the nation's image abroad.

"I think after 9/11, people got overly frightened and decided we were going to torture people with waterboarding. I'm not for that. I have three nephews who serve in the military and I don't want the rest of the world to think that if they capture our soldiers that torture is ok," Paul explained.

A University of Louisville graduate, Haspel served as a contractor with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Devens in Massachusetts before signing on with the CIA, where she worked as a case officer in Africa before transferring to the agency's Counterterrorism Center.

Confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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