President Donald Trump has selected Gina Haspel as his nomination for the Central Intelligence Agency director. She will be facing a confirmation hearing on May 9 and, if nominated, she will be the first woman CIA director.
“In a long career with the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel has held senior positions around the world supervising covert action, managing U.S. spies’ collection of human intelligence and working on counterterrorism efforts, according to a biographical summary of her career declassified by the agency on Tuesday,” writes The Wall Street Journal.
33 years ago, Haspel started her career with the agency as a young case officer in Africa. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, she worked in Africa and Europe as a case officer. She then became an intelligence-operations officer in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, where she rose up in the ranks.
In 1996, she was the chief of station in the “Central Eurasia Division” and was a station chief three times after.
Then in 2001, she worked in counterterrorism in response to the September 11 attack. Between 2001 and 2004, she was the deputy group chief of the Counterterrorism Center and then she became a senior-level supervisor.
“Over the course of her career, Ms. Haspel four times served as chief of station—the top CIA official in a country responsible for all the agency’s operations there. Three of those postings were in Europe or Central Asia, and one location remains classified,” writes WSJ. “In recent years, Ms. Haspel served in several top roles in the division of the CIA responsible for covert options, clandestine operations and the collection of on-the-ground intelligence. She also was the deputy chief of the National Resources Division, a CIA officer charged with gathering intelligence from U.S. residents about their travels abroad and recruiting foreign visitors to become intelligence assets when they return home.”
If confirmed, this would make her the second person to spent their entire career at the agency before becoming director.
Haspel currently is the agency’s acting director, but will be subjected to a hearing where she will have to answer tough questions about her events in career.
The CIA has release limited details on her background, which some lawmakers are disappointed with.
“Ms. Haspel is not an undercover operative, she’s the deputy CIA director seeking a Cabinet-level position. It’s unacceptable for the CIA to hide her behind a wall of secrecy, particularly when such secrecy is unnecessary to protect national security,” wrote Sens. Ron Wyden, (D-Or,) Heinrich, (D-NM,) and Feinstein, (D-CA) last week.
Then last month, it was revealed that she was on the team that ordered the destruction of tapes from an interrogation program that has been criticized as being a “torture program.” Waterboarding, a torture technique that simulates drowning, was allegedly shown on the tapes. But her supervisor ordered that the tapes be destroyed.
“We know Ms. Haspel was a willing participant in one of the darkest episodes in the CIA’s history—an episode that degraded our standing in the world, put U.S. captives at great risk of similar torture and failed at obtaining significant intelligence gains,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) last week. “While Congress has been denied access to the full extent of her involvement, she was sufficiently involved to be disqualified to lead the agency.”
It appears as though Haspel will receive bipartisan support from the Senate Intelligence Committee and then a bipartisan confirmation.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden believes there is no one better for the job than Haspel.
“I certainly concur that it ought to happen, and I’ll defer to the senator. And that is really good news, because I know how contentious–unfairly contentious–this has been for Gina,” Hayden said. “Hugh, she is the absolute best choice to be the director of CIA. And when people want to bring up the past, I’m happy to relitigate that if they like. But I want to talk about the present and the future.”
The former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also said that she is a “tremendous intelligence officer.”
Author’s note: Haspel seems more than qualified for this role and since she has bipartisan support, it looks like she will be the new CIA Director.
Editor’s note: She is so well qualified, she makes Brennan and several of his predecessors look like CT’s (in intelligence parlance, CT is “career trainee,” someone who is naive, fresh out of school, wet behind the ears…).