Politics Trump's pick to lead CIA to face questions about torture
Trump’s nominee to CIA previously ran a secret terror prison
President Trump’s new pick to lead the CIA previously ran a secret prison and human rights groups have pushed for her to face charges.Trump said Deputy Director Gina Haspel would replace incumbent Mike Pompeo, who the President tapped to be his new secretary of state Tuesday after axing Rex Tillerson.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's pick to be the next director of the CIA is a career spymaster who oversaw torture at a secret prison during one of the darkest chapters in the agency's history.
What to Know About Gina Haspel, the New Director of the CIA
With her promotion to director of the CIA, Gina Haspel becomes the first woman to hold that job. It’s a high profile position, but Haspel has been a pretty low profile person up until this point. So who will be running the government’s spy agency?Haspel, who replaces new secretary of state Mike Pompeo, has been with the agency since 1985, spending much of her career undercover. She has received several awards, including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism and the Presidential Rank Award, the highest award in the federal civil service.
If confirmed, 61-year-old Gina Haspel would become the first female head of the CIA.
She's described by colleagues as a seasoned veteran with 30-plus years of intelligence experience who would lead the agency with integrity. But it's the few years she spent supervising a secret black site that will be closely scrutinized at her confirmation hearing.
Trump announced on Tuesday that he had chosen Haspel to succeed Mike Pompeo, who is replacing ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. She joined the CIA in 1985 and has been deputy director of the agency since February 2017.
Between 2003 and 2005, Haspel oversaw a secret CIA prison in Thailand where terror suspects Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said. Waterboarding is a process that simulates drowning and is widely considered to be a form of torture. Haspel also helped carry out an order to destroy waterboarding videos, which prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.
After a year of gripes, Trump's hands now free to reshape CIA and NSA
Fourteen months into his term, President Donald Trump is reshaping America's two largest intelligence agencies, both of them facing internal troubles and a cascade of global threats. Trump on Tuesday tapped CIA Director Mike Pompeo to become secretary of state, and elevated Pompeo's deputy, Gina Haspel, to become the agency's first-ever female director. Later this spring, the top-secret National Security Agency will also get a new director.Both agencies have been, at times, vilified by Trump, and faced a series of leaks and disclosures in recent years that have battered morale.
Trump has said that he would reintroduce waterboarding and "a lot worse," but there's no indication that his decision to pick Haspel signals a desire to restart the harsh interrogation and detention program. He would face steep legal and legislative hurdles if he tried.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Haspel must explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA's interrogation program.
"Current U.S. law is clear in banning enhanced interrogation techniques," said McCain, who was beaten as a prisoner during the Vietnam War. "Any nominee for director of the CIA must pledge without reservation to uphold this prohibition."
Former CIA Director John Brennan declined to say what Haspel's exact role was in the interrogation program, but he told NBC that she has a "lot of integrity" and has tried to carry out her agency duties "when asked to do difficult things in challenging times."
Trump's pick for new CIA chief dogged by secret prisons
Gina Haspel, the veteran CIA undercover officer President Donald Trump picked on Tuesday to head the agency, is supported by many in the U.S. intelligence community but has faced criticism for overseeing a secret CIA prison in Thailand where detainees were tortured. Intelligence officers who served with her, and congressional officials said that in 2002, during Republican President George W. Bush's administration, she was responsible for the secret prison code-named "Cat's Eye." Two suspected members of the al Qaeda militant group were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques at the facility.
Brennan predicted she would be confirmed. "Gina is a very competent professional who I think deserves the chance to take the seat," he said.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, which will vote whether to confirm Haspel, said she has the "right skill set, experience and judgment" to lead the CIA.
Human rights advocates said they opposed Haspel's promotion to the helm of the CIA.
"No one who had a hand in torturing individuals deserves to ever hold public office again, let alone lead an agency," Human Rights First's Raha Wala said Tuesday. "To allow someone who had a direct hand in this illegal, immoral and counterproductive program is to willingly forget our nation's dark history with torture."
After Haspel was named deputy CIA director, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights asked German prosecutors to issue a warrant for her arrest over her role in the interrogations. Federal prosecutors never issued the warrant because the case lacked a connection to Germany. But the rights group's allegations against Haspel remain part of a preliminary investigation that German authorities could revive if they receive evidence that any of the parties have links to Germany.
ProPublica Issues Serious Correction to Report on Trump CIA Director Nominee
Last year, Haspel's name came up during a civil lawsuit in Spokane, Washington, filed by three men who said they suffered waterboarding, beatings and sleep deprivation in the CIA interrogation program developed by former Spokane psychologists James E. Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
Lawyers for the psychologists wanted to interview Haspel and another CIA official involved in the program, but government lawyers told the federal judge in the case that the officials and documents were protected under the state secrets privilege and making them public would threaten national security.
Haspel has been chief of station at CIA outposts abroad. In Washington, she has held several senior leadership positions, including deputy director of the National Clandestine Service.
In her current post, she worked with Pompeo to manage intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence and cooperation with the CIA's foreign counterparts.
In a brief statement, the former undercover officer said she was "humbled" by Trump's confidence in her to lead the agency.
Associated Press writer Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.
Fight Over Trump’s CIA Nominee Who Helped Oversee Torture May Hinge On Democrats .
Democrats find themselves in a conspicuous position on the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. For once, they may have the power and the moral high ground to derail one of President Donald Trump’s high-level appointments. Load Error The question is whether they can stick together long enough to do so.Trump last week nominated Haspel to replace Mike Pompeo, who the president in turn tapped to be his next secretary of state. Haspel, a 30-year CIA veteran widely respected by her colleagues as deputy director, would be the first woman to lead the agency if the Senate confirms her.
Meet Trump's Horrible New CIA Director That Helped LEAD Bush's Torture Program
In this Majority Report clip, we talk about Gina Haspel, Donald Trump's pick to fill the empty CIA Director chair in the wake of Mike Pompeo's promotion. We need your help to keep providing...
Trump Praises Torture And CIA Black Sites
President Donald Trump may order a review that could lead to bringing back a CIA program for holding terrorism suspects in secret overseas "black site" prisons where interrogation techniques...
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