President Donald Trump announced on Twitter on Tuesday that Gina Haspel will be nominated as the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
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!
Trump, talking to reporters Tuesday morning about Haspel, “She’s an outstanding person who also I’ve gotten to know very well.”
Haspel previously served as Pompeo’s deputy. In stepping in as the CIA’s new chief, she becomes the agency’s first-ever female director.
“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 said in a statement.
Haspel has been with the CIA for more than 30 years!
Haspel joined the CIA in 1985. She is a career spymaster with “extensive overseas experience,” serving as station chief — a government official in charge of a post in a foreign country — during most of her assignments, the CIA wrote in post online.
After decades of service, Haspel was sworn in as the CIA’s deputy director on Feb. 7, 2017, becoming the first woman to hold the position.
“In this position, she assists the D/CIA in managing intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign services,” the CIA explained.
She ran the CIA’s first overseas detention site.
Haspel reportedly ran the CIA’s first overseas detention site in Thailand, where imprisoned militants were repeatedly waterboarded and endured various other forms of torture, The New York Times reported in February 2017.
Like Pompeo, Trump agrees torture works and pledged his support for CIA-run “black site” prisons outside the U.S.
“We’re worried about waterboarding as our enemy, ISIS, is beheading people and burning people alive. Time for us to wake up,” Trump tweeted in February 2015.
Haspel briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002, according to former U.S. intelligence officials.
Haspel was the chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, who headed the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. In his memoir, Rodriguez wrote that Haspel had “drafted a cable” in 2005 ordering the destruction of dozens of videotapes made at the black site in Thailand.
That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.
She is well respected by former intelligence officials.
Veteran intelligence officials praised Trump’s decision to name Haspel deputy director in February 2017, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
“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,” Clapper said at the time. “She has also been a strong proponent for integration, not only within CIA, but across the intelligence community.”
Michael Morell, who served as CIA acting director twice, called Haspel “widely respected,” boasting that “she gets things done.” He said he worked closely with Haspel for nearly seven years — until his retirement from the agency in 2013.
“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 in an online statement.
Michael Hayden, former CIA director, also called 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,” Hayden said.
She has held several top positions in Washington
In 2013, John Brennan, then the director of Central Intelligence, named Haspel as acting Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, which carries out covert operations around the globe. However, she was denied the position permanently due to criticism about her involvement in the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. Haspel has also served as the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action.
She has won a handful of prestigious awards
Haspel has received several prestigious awards, including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award, the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal and the Presidential Rank Award, which recognizes individuals for “exceptional performance over an extended period of time,” according to the CIA.
Some current and former CIA officials said they saw some benefit to naming an insider to head the agency.
“There is no question that a director leaving after a year is very turbulent for the agency,” said former CIA Director Michael Hayden. “That said, leaving Gina and making her the actual director will have a very positive calming influence.”
Resources: Reuters, Fox News