According to Fox News, Tuesday morning President Trump nominated Gina Haspel to be the head of the CIA, and she could also become the first woman to run the spy agency. So, who is Gina Haspel?
Trump’s choice is an experienced spymaster who has evaded publicity during her 32-year career. Her career has comprised of a period of overseeing overseas “black site” prisons where treacherous terrorists were waterboarded, and further examination approaches broadly criticized as torture.
Haspel, who is 61 years old, will need to be confirmed by the Senate before she takes control of the CIA from Mike Pompeo, who Trump also nominated as Secretary of State after he fired Rex Tillerson.
Even though she has gained the approval from many Washington insiders such Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, she will be expected to be interrogated on the Hill about her association to sites where the waterboarding occurred. The scandalous practice, which replicates drowning, has been compared to torture but used to obtain valuable intelligence from tough terrorists.
Previously Haspel worked as Pompeo’s deputy and will become the agency’s first-ever female director.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
In a statement she said, “I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Haspel has been with the CIA for over 30 years and joined in 1985. During most of her assignments as a spymaster, she has “extensive overseas experience,” by working as station chief who is a government official in charge of a post in a foreign country, according to the CIA.
On February 7, 2017, Haspel was confirmed in as the CIA’s deputy director in which she became the first woman to be in that position.
The CIA clarified, “In this position, she assists the D/CIA in managing intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign services.”
According to the New York Times in February 2017, Haspel reportedly ran the CIA’s first overseas detention site in Thailand, where imprisoned militants were frequently waterboarded and suffered different methods of torture.
Just like Pompeo, Trump stated that torture works and promised his support for CIA-run “black site” prisons not on U.S. soil.
In February 2015, Trump tweeted, “We’re worried about waterboarding as our enemy, ISIS, is beheading people and burning people alive. Time for us to wake up.”
Former U.S. intelligence officials stated that Haspel ran a secret CIA prison for a short time where alleged terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002.
“Zubaydah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide,” reported by the Times.
Haspel aided in carrying out an order that the CIA was to obliterate the videotapes of waterboarding. That order inspired an extensive investigation by the Justice Department which concluded without any charges.
In February 2017, Veteran intelligence officials applauded Trump’s choice to name Haspel as the deputy director, such as James Clapper the former Director of National Intelligence.
Clapper stated, “It speaks well of him for picking a seasoned veteran of the agency who is widely and deeply respected by the workforce as well as those outside the agency. She has also been a strong proponent for integration, not only within CIA but across the intelligence community.”
Twice acting director of the CIA Michael Morell said that Haspel was “widely respected,” and that “she gets things done.” He stated that he worked with her for almost seven years until 2013 when he retired from the agency.
“She provides advice based on facts and analysis of facts… She is calm under fire. She appreciates the work of all CIA officers – analysts, scientists, and support specialists, as much as she appreciates operations officers,” Morell said.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden also reported that Haspel a “wonderful choice.”
“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,” said Hayden.
Additionally, Haspel has had many top senior leadership positions in Washington, such as deputy director of the National Clandestine Service and deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action.
To go along with her impressive career, Haspel has received some significant awards, which include the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Presidential Rank Award, which according to the CIA acknowledges individuals for “exceptional performance over an extended period of time.”