President Trump nominated the first woman as CIA director Tuesday following another shakeup in his Cabinet. President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he will nominate Gina Haspel , 61, to become the new CIA director, replacing Mike Pompeo, who will be nominated as the next Secretary of State.
Gina Haspel has a long career at the CIA
Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and ran a controversial “black site” prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to brutal interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding.
In 2002, Haspel was running a black site prison in Thailand where terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah was held following his capture in Pakistan. In Thailand, Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, locked in a coffin, slammed against the wall and deprived of sleep, according to a landmark congressional report on the CIA’s torture program.
From 2003 to 2005, Haspel was chief of staff to the CIA director of clandestine operations, Jose Rodriguez. In his 2013 memoir, “Hard Measures,” Rodriguez described how Haspel directed agents to use an industrial strength shredder in 2005 to destroy videotapes of CIA interrogations conducted at black sites.
Gina Haspel has been controversial, but also praised
Haspel’s role in the interrogation program caused controversy on the Hill in the past, but she is well-regarded within the agency and praised by many of her intelligence colleagues.
James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence under President Barack Obama, said in 2017 he was “very pleased” with the pick of Gina Haspel to be deputy and that she is “widely and deeply respected by the workforce.” Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said she was a “wonderful” choice for deputy and complimented her “dignity, professionalism and honor.”
During her time at the agency, Haspel has held several senior leadership positions, including directorial roles in the National Clandestine Service and in the Counterterrorism Center, as well as several Chief of Station roles, a news release from the CIA said. Haspel has received several awards in her career, including the Presidential Rank Award — the most prestigious award in the federal civil service.