Gina Haspel, US President Donald Trump's nominee to become the first woman to lead the CIA, is a veteran, who once reportedly ran a secret prison in Thailand where terrorism suspects were allegedly subjected to harsh interrogation techniques like waterboarding.
In a surprise move, Trump announced on Tuesday that he was removing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replacing him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and elevating Haspel, who was his deputy.
Before leaving the White House for California, Trump heaped more praise on Haspel: "Gina, by the way, who I know very well, who I've worked very closely with, will be the first woman director of the CIA," he said.
The Senate must vote on 61-year-old Haspel's confirmation to succeed Pompeo.
Haspel said in a statement that after 30 years at CIA, it was an honour to serve with Pompeo during the past year.
"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.
What you must know about Gina Haspel
It’s rare to promote someone for this post from within the agency, and Haspel will be the first-ever female director of the CIA if confirmed.
2. Gina Haspel's flourishing career: Gina Haspel joined the CIA in 1985. She earned high-level awards during her career and was sworn in as deputy director of the CIA on February 7, 2017. She has extensive overseas experience and served as Chief of Station in several of her assignments. In Washington, she has held numerous senior leadership positions, including as Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, and Chief of Staff for the Director of the National Clandestine Service.
3. Gina's role as deputy director of the CIA: In that post, Gina Haspel assisted managing intelligence collection, analysis, covert action and counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign services
4. Awards and recognition: Haspel is the recipient of numerous awards including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism; the Donovan Award; the Intelligence Medal of Merit; and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service.
5. Haspel's oversaw torture of two suspects at secret prison in Thailand: A 2017 New York Times report says Haspel, in 2002, oversaw the torture of two suspects at a secret prison in Thailand and later was involved in the destruction of videotapes documenting that torture.
6. One of those prisoners was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls, and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide, says the Times.
As a result of such torture, she was shifted out of her role as head of the CIA’s clandestine service.
7. Human Rights in Berlin demand her arrest
The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, a Berlin-based NGO, has been pushing Germany’s public prosecutor to arrest Haspel for her role in the torture program.
8. Gina Haspel is respected by both Bush and Obama administrations
Haspel is reportedly widely respected – and has support from members of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Where she stands personally on issues such as extreme interrogation techniques is an unknown, as she has not offered any public comments on policy, as you would expect for an undercover officer.
9. Haspel's Senate confirmation process will be complicated by her role in the CIA's black site program, in which terrorism suspects were extrajudicially detained and tortured.
10. Trump's extravagant praise for Gina Haspel
Trump heaped more praise on Haspel: "Gina, by the way, who I know very well, who I've worked very closely with, will be the first woman director of the CIA," he said.