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Last Updated : May 18, 2018 02:59 PM IST | Source:

All you need to know about Gina Haspel, the first-ever woman CIA director

As a clandestine officer at the CIA, Haspel was in charge of a secret operation labelled 'Cat’s eye'.

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In a 54 to 45 vote, the US Senate confirmed Gina Haspel as the first-ever woman to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A member of the CIA for 33 years, Haspel managed to convince the senators of her merits, despite ongoing discussions of her involvement in the torture programme during Bush administration.

Haspel, 61, and originally from Kentucky, was a part of CIA’s clandestine services for the past 33 years. This is why American public and the Senators did not know much about her before President Trump picked her up for this job role.

She also holds the distinction of being the first-ever woman deputy director of CIA. Before that, she was the Chief of Staff to the Deputy Director for Operations in the agency. She has served as the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service as well.

CIA officials are thrilled by the appointment of Haspel as their leader. The CIA has shared some details about Haspel’s previous posts, her personal details and projects she has worked on. The agency has also released a timeline of her career, showing her journey through the CIA for all her time there.

“As the first woman to rise from the ranks to become Deputy Director—and now the first woman to be nominated as CIA Director—DDCIA, Haspel says she owes her success to the colleagues she has served with over the years. They include the extraordinary sisterhood in CTC that brought their passion and drive to the fight to bring down aAl-Qaeda; the mentors, role models, and close friends who supported and believed in her throughout her career,” the article read.

Controversial choice  

As a clandestine officer at the CIA, Haspel was in charge of a secret operation labelled ‘Cat’s eye’, involving torture of two suspected terrorists, in what is called a ‘black site’ in Thailand. CIA was operating other black sites in Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Kosovo.

Abu Zubayadah, suspected to be involved in 9/11 attacks, was the first prisoner there, and the torture methods were inhuman and cruel. Haspel was appointed its head after Zubayadah, but she was present during another severe torture case, Abdal-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Al-Nashiri was captured in 2002 and taken to Thailand, suspected of having links to al-Qaeda. After the tortures in the black site of Thailand was reported, it was shut down.

Haspel was later in trouble for destroying videotapes that had documented the brutal interrogations at the secret prison in Thailand. Many said that she was just acting on orders from her senior, Jose Rodriguez who was the director of operations at the clandestine branch at the time and did not act independently.

Support pouring in

Haspel received backing from senior officials in the White House and senators from Trump’s administration as well. A group of 53 former intelligence officials wrote a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee conveying their strong support to Gina, Vox reported.

“Ms Haspel’s qualifications to be CIA Director match or exceed those of most candidates put forward in the Agency’s 70-year history,” it said.

A fact sheet was released by the White House, listing the reasons why Gina Haspel was ‘the right person to lead the CIA’. The statement had comments from US intelligence leaders like John Brennan and James Clapper, who served Obama.

Clapper said, “She is capable, smart, very experienced and well respected by the Agency rank and file.”

John Brennan, CIA director during Obama’s tenure, said, “Haspel has the experience, the breadth and depth, on intelligence issues.”
First Published on May 18, 2018 11:44 am
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