Trump announced Tuesday morning, after firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, that he’s electing CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him and Gina Haspel, the current Deputy Director of the CIA, to take on the top directorial role.
The president said during his announcement that Haspel is an “outstanding person” he’s gotten to know well. If the Senate confirms Trump’s nominations, Haspel would be the first woman in U.S. history to head the CIA.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2018
“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,” Haspel said in a statement.
Here are the fast facts you need to know.
Gina Haspel has been working for the CIA for 30+ years
Haspel, 61, joined the CIA in 1985, and according to her official agency bio, she has “extensive overseas experience and served as Chief of Station in several of her assignments.”
Over her 30 years in service, she’s held many senior positions such as Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, which is the “undercover arm” of the CIA.
In 2017, she was appointed Deputy Director of the CIA by Trump and was the first female to take on that title.
Gina Haspel played a role in American torture programs
In 2002, Haspel oversaw torture of terrorism suspects in one of the American secret overseas prisons known as “black sites.” Such torture included waterboarding, sleep deprivation and confinement in boxes, The New York Times reports.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program calls these black sites “deeply flawed” and “far more brutal” than presented. The sites, which used “enhanced interrogation techniques” authorized by the George W. Bush administration post-9/11, were closed during the Obama administration.
When the CIA destroyed torture footage from these black sites in 2005, Haspel was adamant to see it through — her name was directly linked to the order that got rid of the videos.
Gina Haspel has faced criticism from both parties
Iraq War veteran and 50-year-old mom-to-be Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) released a statement condemning Trump’s nomination of Haspel, saying, “Her reprehensible actions should disqualify her from having the privilege of serving the American people in government ever again.”
Who we confirm for these posts will send a message to the rest of the world on America’s commitment, or lack thereof, to condemning torture & promoting human rights
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) March 13, 2018
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is reportedly the first Republican to voice is own opposition. During a news conference, he announced his opposition of both Pompeo’s and Haspel’s nominations. In his opening remarks, he read aloud a quote from Haspel, which she allegedly said to one of the detainees, Abu Zubaydah, while he was being waterboarded (one out of the 83 times he was waterboarded): “Good job, you’re drooling. It adds to the realism — I’m almost buying it. You wouldn’t think a grown man would do that.”
Gina Haspel has won a slew of awards
During her time served with the CIA, Haspel has won honors such as the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Intelligence Medal of Merit and a Presidential Rank Award, which is the “most prestigious award in the federal civil service.”
The Presidential Rank Awards are given to senior members for their “sustained accomplishments.”
Despite her controversial career, Gina Haspel has earned praise
James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, said upon Haspel’s appointment as Deputy Director that she “has the broad-gauged experience from both foreign and domestic assignments to serve as the right-arm” for Pompeo.
Others, such as former CIA Director Michael Hayden, praised Haspel as having “responded with dignity, professionalism and honor to everything the Agency and nation have asked her to do.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who actually lead the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and blocked Haspel’s potential promotion to Director of the National Clandestine Service in 2013, spoke positively of her on Tuesday.
“Everything I know is she has been a good deputy director,” Feinstein said, according to The Hill. “I think hopefully the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program.”
Will Haspel make history, or will her own history stand in the way? Confirmation awaits.