Washington (AFP) - Gina Haspel, Donald Trump's nominee to lead the CIA, vowed Wednesday that the spy agency will not engage in torture of detainees under her watch, even if ordered by the president.
Facing opposition over her role at a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002 where Al-Qaeda detainees were waterboarded, Haspel made clear she would not support such activity in the future if she is confirmed as CIA director.
"Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program," she told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"In retrospect it is clear... that CIA was not prepared to conduct a detention and interrogation program."
Haspel said that the CIA is now -- unlike during the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks -- bound by the Defense Department's Army Field Manual, which specifically forbids torture like waterboarding.
"My parents gave me a very strong moral compass. I support the higher moral standard that this country has decided to hold itself to. I would never, ever take CIA back to an interrogation program," Haspel told the panel.
"I support the law. I would not support a change in the law," she said.
Democrats worry that Trump and top aides are not opposed to the use of outlawed techniques like waterboarding in interrogations -- and Trump has appeared to extol Haspel's past involvement in the post-9/11 interrogation program.
Pressed over whether she would resume an interrogation program, and allow torture, if ordered by Trump, she said she would not.
"My moral compass is strong. I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal. I would absolutely not permit it."
"America is looked at all over the world as an example to everyone else in the world, and we have to uphold that. And CIA is included in that," she added.