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Gina Haspel. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The concern that Gina Haspel could restart the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program is misplaced, according to former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, who says President Trump is "the last president" the CIA would do it for.

"There is no [CIA] director who has been involved with this who would say we're going to do this again. That's not a repudiation of what we did, it's just a realization that we did it once before, we thought you had our back, and you didn't."
— Hayden in an interview with Axios

Hayden added that Haspel is the "perfect choice" for CIA director because she will stand up to Trump: "We have an administration that seems less tethered to objective reality in making its decision than previous administrations ... When the president says something and everyone else in the room says 'You're right, boss,' Gina Haspel is the one who will raise an objection if the objection needs to be raised."

Why it matters: Sen. Mark Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with NPR affiliate WHRO on Monday that one of the things he's looking to hear from Haspel during her confirmation hearing with the committee on Wednesday is what she would do if Trump attempted to order the CIA to reintroduce torture techniques.

The big picture: The CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program and black site prisons, which Haspel was involved with following the 9/11 attacks, have largely been regarded as torture. But those in the Intelligence Community say the program was cleared through the appropriate channels.

  • Larry Pfeiffer, former chief of staff to Gen. Hayden and director of the situation room for President Obama, told Axios it was "quite a blow" to see Congress "act as if this was something they had never been briefed on and acknowledged and supported."

What they're saying:

  • 109 retired military leaders signed a letter last month that stated they "do not accept efforts to excuse [Haspel's] actions relating to torture and other unlawful abuses of detainees by offering that she was 'just following orders...''
  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said he is "very open-minded" to her nomination after meeting with her on Monday, according to Bloomberg's Laura Litvan.
  • Pfeiffer told Axios: "The wheels of justice have turned and turned on [debating this program], and we as a nation need to put it behind us."

Go deeper

Updated 13 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

14 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.