The Senate on Thursday voted to confirm Caroline Krass as CIA general counsel, a job she will assume at a time of extreme tension between the agency and Congress.
Her confirmation had been held up in part by lawmakers angered by the ongoing dispute between the CIA and the Senate Intelligence Committee over committee’s investigation of the agency’s use of harsh interrogation techniques after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
During her confirmation hearing in December, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) voted against Krass’s nomination and accused the CIA of refusing to turn over an internal review of the interrogation program ordered by former agency Director Leon E. Panetta. He also pushed for a statement from President Obama indicating support for declassifying the committee’s 6,200-page interrogation report. Obama did so Wednesday, apparently clearing the way for Thursday’s vote to confirm Krass.
Udall let Krass's confirmation move forward Thursday, but he called for new leadership in the CIA's general counsel's office.
"We need to correct the record on the CIA's coercive detention and interrogation program and declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's exhaustive study of it, Udall said in a statement. "I released my hold on Caroline Krass's nomination today and voted for her to help change the direction of the agency.
"The president has stated an unequivocal commitment to supporting the declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report. Coloradans expect me to hold him to his word."
Krass, a former senior Justice Department official, replaces acting General Counsel Robert Eatinger, who was deeply involved in legal issues surrounding the interrogation program and is mentioned by name at least 1,600 times in the committee’s report, according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
Eatinger recently outraged Feinstein and other committee members by sending a notification to the Justice Department alleging that committee staff may have broken the law when it took copies of the Panetta review documents from a computer database set up by the agency for the Senate probe.
Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.