The US Senate confirmed Gina Haspel on Thursday to be director of the CIA, ending a bruising confirmation fight centred on her ties to the spy agency's past use of torture.
One Republican, Rand Paul, refused to support Haspel's nomination and voted no. Senator John McCain and Senator Todd Young of IN were absent.
"She is intimately familiar with the threats facing our nation", the North Carolina Republican said.
At her confirmation hearing last week, Haspel faced sharp questions from Democrats about whether she thought the interrogation program was immoral.
McConnell steered the confirmation swiftly past opponents, including the ailing McCain, whose long-distance rejection of the nominee over her role in the CIA's torture program hung over an impassioned debate.
"Congratulations to our new CIA Director, Gina Haspel!".
"With her unparallelled CIA experience, she will hit the ground running and continue to lead the worlds finest intelligence agency". They said the USA needs to close the book forever on the program that marred America's image with allies overseas.
But with her past suddenly in the spotlight, she endured a contentious confirmation process during which lawmakers criticized her work following the September 11, 2001 attacks, when she oversaw a secret prison in Thailand. They also questioned her commitment not to reinstate such an illegal program in the future.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said in a floor speech that Haspel "offered up nearly the classic Washington nonapology". He asked how the Senate could take seriously Haspel's "conversion on torture?".
Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Rand Paul (KY) and Flake voted against Haspel. Sen.
Among Democrats supporting Haspel were several up for re-election this fall in states where Trump is popular, including Sen. Joe Donnelly of IN and Sen. Bill Nelson (FL), Sen. Six Democrats ultimately broke ranks to vote for Haspel - Sen. Haspel also received the support of the editorial boards of New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Weekly Standard.
Other Democrats on the committee had troubuling words for Haspel. Doug Jones of Alabama is opposing her and Sen.
Nearly all details about Ms. Haspel's record at the agency were classified, and officials there defied calls from some lawmakers to make them available to the public ahead of the vote. The controversial practice, which simulates drowning, has been likened to torture but supporters say it has helped extract valuable information from hardened terrorists. "Shes served with the Agency for 33 years, including tours as a case officer, four times as a station chief, the deputy chief of the National Resources Division, the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, and now as CIA Deputy Director", he said. "While I respect Ms. Haspel's service and sacrifice, after meeting with her and reviewing classified documents, I do not think she is that person".
During her illustrious career in the CIA, Haspel has worked in various capacities and has been stationed clandestinely overseas including her stint in Africa, wherein in the 80s she assisted Mother Teresa in humanitarian assistance.
President Donald Trump nominated Haspel as successor to Mike Pompeo, who is now Secretary of State.
"I am sure that she will be for Director Pompeo what Steve Kappes was for me - a trusted friend, lieutenant and guide to the sometimes opaque corridors of American espionage", Hayden said.
Haspel received robust backing from former intelligence, diplomatic, military and national security officials.
"However, given her troubling record and a concerning lack of commitment to transparency, I could not support her nomination to lead the Central Intelligence Agency".