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Cramer: Senate must put aside partisan politics and confirm Gina Haspel

North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer speaks Sunday, April 3, 2016, at the North Dakota GOP Convention at Scheels Arena in Fargo of his choice to endorse Donald Trump for president. File photo / Forum News Service

President Trump has nominated one of the most qualified professionals in Washington to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. As her confirmation proceeds in the Senate, those who do not support CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel are putting partisan politics ahead of choosing the best person for the position.

The hypocrisy of partisan opposition to Haspel is that she is one of the most non-partisan individuals President Trump has nominated to his cabinet. Since joining the CIA in 1985, Haspel has worked in the administrations of every president since Ronald Reagan, dedicating her career to advancing the policies of these presidents and meeting the challenges of keeping Americans safe.

Senators who oppose her because of her involvement in counterterrorism practices after September 11 are being disingenuous. These practices confronted terrorists and protected the lives of countless Americans. Those senators who voted for the nomination of John Brennan to be CIA director in 2013 — and that includes many Senate Democrats — did not speak out about his involvement in these same interrogation practices. At the time, Brennen was at a higher level at the CIA than Haspel. In fact, Brennan, who supports her confirmation, said of Haspel in March, "She has the experience — the breadth and depth — on intelligence issues in dealing with these meddlesome foreign policy issues for many, many years so that she will be able to provide that unvarnished, apolitical, objective intelligence input to Donald Trump and others."

Haspel is highly regarded by national security experts and intelligence leaders who served with her for the past 30 years. James Clapper, the CIA director in the Obama administration, said of her in March, "She is a warm and engaging colleague with a self-deprecating sense of humor. She's a simply exceptional person who gets things done in a quiet, yet effective way, and is calm under fire."

In April, 50 former senior government officials, including past CIA and State Department division directors, U.S. ambassadors, U.S. Senators and NATO leaders who served with her over the past 30 years, wrote a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence supporting Haspel.

They wrote, "the threats to America today are grave and numerous, but the U.S. Senate can help protect our country by swiftly confirming Gina Haspel. She has the integrity, experience and determination it takes to safeguard our nation and lead the men and women of the CIA." As a career intelligence officer, she rose to the ranks of Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, which carries out covert operations around the globe. She served as Chief of Staff for the Director of the National Clandestine Service and the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center. Clearly this highly qualified and strong woman has impeccable credentials to be director of the CIA.

As director, she will serve the CIA and the Trump Administration with distinction. And the Senators who oppose her are demonstrating either a misunderstanding of Haspel's long tenure at the CIA or outright partisan politics.

Cramer represents North Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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