Gina Haspel nominated as CIA's first female director: 5 things to know about the career spymaster
Meet Gina Haspel, The Torture-Loving War Criminal Trump Named CIA Director~ A seasoned spymaster who has avoided the limelight during a 32-year career that has included stints running overseas “black sites” where dangerous terrorists were waterboarded.
On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted that CIA Director Mike Pompeo would be replaced by Gina Haspel, the first woman to lead the CIA.
When news of the announcement started spreading, it wasn’t long before Haspel’s dark past began making headlines.
According to The New York Times, Haspel played a leading role in overseeing and covering up the torture of alleged terrorists.
More specifically, she was involved in running a secret torture prison in Thailand in 2002. The torture program included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other forms of brutal interrogation.
Furthermore, Haspel was reportedly involved in destroying video evidence in order to cover up the torture of captured prisoners.
We doubt that Haspel’s barbaric background bothers Trump, who in the past has said that he supports torture and believes that waterboarding “absolutely” works, despite experts claiming the contrary.
Gina Haspel, a career spymaster, will still need to be confirmed as the CIA's new director. She previously served as the agency's deputy director under Mike Pompeo, who was tapped to be Trump's new secretary of state.
President Trump’s pick to head the CIA is a seasoned spymaster who has avoided the limelight during a 32-year career that has included stints running overseas “black sites” where dangerous terrorists were waterboarded.
Gina Haspel, 61, must be confirmed by the Senate before she takes command of the spy agency from Mike Pompeo, who Trump nominated as Secretary of State after firing Rex Tillerson.
While she has won praise from Washington insiders – including Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden, she will likely face questions on the Hill about her connection to sites where waterboarding took place. The controversial practice, which simulates drowning, has been likened to torture but used to extract valuable information from hardened terrorists.
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.
Here are 5 things to know about Trump’s pick for CIA director.
She 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 says 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.
“Zubayadah 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,” The Times reported.
She also helped carry out an order that the CIA destroy its waterboarding videos. 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 Washington, Haspel has held several top senior leadership positions, including deputy director of the National Clandestine Service and 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.