Gina Haspel would be first woman to lead the CIA
President Trump nominated the first woman as CIA director Tuesday following another shakeup in his Cabinet.
Gina Haspel, 61, would take over at the spy agency for Mike Pompeo, who is replacing Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
Her nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and ran a controversial “black site” prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to brutal interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.
The seasoned spymaster allegedly helped carry out an order to destroy waterboarding videos, which prompted a Department of Justice probe that ended without charges, sources told the Associated Press.
The CIA prison housed accused terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, who were waterboarded in 2002.
Haspel’s nomination has already been met with backlash from Democrats and human rights advocates.
“During Gina Haspel’s long tenure at the CIA, she oversaw the agency’s torture and rendition program, one of the bleakest chapters in our nation’s history. No one who had a hand in torturing individuals deserve to ever hold public office again, let alone lead an agency,” said Raha Wala of the Human Rights First.
The American Civil Liberties Union echoed those sentiments, saying “Haspel was up to her eyeballs in torture, both in running a secret torture prison in Thailand and carrying out an order to cover up torture crimes.”
Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, said Haspel’s “background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director.” He also opposed her appointment as deputy CIA director last year.
“Her nomination must include total transparency about this background, which I called for more than a year ago when she was appointed deputy director,” Wyden said. “If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.”
But Republican Sen. Richard Burr, from North Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee which overseas the CIA, said he looked forward to supporting Haspel’s nomination and “ensuring its consideration without delay.”
“I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation’s most critical agencies,” he said.
Haspel has also served as chief of station at agency outposts abroad. In Washington, she 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 received the George H.W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the civil service.
In a statement, Haspel said she looked forward to her promotion.
“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,” she said. “If confirmed, I look forward to providing President Trump the outstanding intelligence support he has grown to expect during his first year in office.”
Trump said in a statement that her appointment would be an “historic milestone” and that he, Haspel and Pompeo “have worked together for more than a year and have developed a great mutual respect.”
With Post Wires