Who is Gina Haspel, the first female CIA director? What you should know about the controversial figure
There has been yet another White House staff shakeup. On March 13th, news outlets reported that one of President Donald Trump’s personal assistants was fired, and to add to the chaos, Trump also fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and gave his job to CIA Director Mike Pompeo. With Pompeo’s promotion, CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel became the organization’s leader. But unfortunately, the first-ever female CIA director has a problematic past. Here’s what you need to know about her.
Pompeo chose Haspel to be his deputy.
Haspel joined the CIA in 1985. In her years at the agency, she has served overseas, acting as the manager of several foreign stations. She’s held several leadership roles within the CIA, and Pompeo named Haspel his deputy director in February 2017. During her career, she has also received honors such as the Intelligence Medal of Merit and the Presidential Rank Award, which is the most prestigious honor a CIA member can earn.
But some opposed her appointment as deputy director.
Although the deputy director of the CIA does not need Congressional approval, several members of Congress protested Haspel’s appointment to the role. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden reportedly sent a letter to the president expressing his opposition of Haspel.
Haspel was involved in a CIA interrogation program.
Haspel directed a “black site” prison in Thailand — an institution where terror suspects were tortured. According to the New York Times, she oversaw the interrogation of two terror suspects who were waterboarded during their detention. One of the detainees was reportedly waterboarded 83 times in one month under Haspel’s watch. The torture had been recorded on video, and in 2005, Haspel ordered these tapes destroyed.
Senator John McCain issued a statement today, March 13th, asking that Haspel address her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program before being confirmed in her new role.
Trump has expressed his approval of torture before, saying he would keep Guantanamo Bay open in his State of the Union Address. Haspel’s appointment appears to only affirm Trump’s support of these tactics. The CIA is overdue for a female director, but we can’t support someone with such strong ties to torture.