President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that he is nominating Gina Haspel to take the reins of the CIA, replacing Mike Pompeo. So, what do we know about Haspel, the first lady spy to head the American intelligence agency?
- Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and has spent the lion’s share of her career working undercover. This might explain why it is so difficult to obtain a photograph of the deputy director.
- When she was appointed as CIA Deputy Director under Mike Pompeo less than a year ago, news outlets started circulating the wrong image, which turned out to be BBC reporter Emily Maitlis mistakenly identified as Gina Haspel.
- As a clandestine officer at the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002, Gina Haspel oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects at a secret prison in Thailand, which she ran at that time, and partook in efforts to destroy videotapes featuring their brutal interrogations. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Haspel oversaw the interrogations of detainees Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in a single month before interrogators concluded he had no useful information. Haspel has connections to the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program, which was detailed in the 6,000-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee focusing on the agency’s use of techniques broadly viewed as torturous.
- Haspel was also the chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, who previously headed the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.
- Following her appointment as the CIA head in place of the outgoing Mike Pompeo, Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who was granted asylum in Russia, tweeted that there is presumably a reason why newly-appointed Haspel might not be allowed to come to Europe. He cited a complaint filed by ECCHR, Berlin-based European constitutional and human rights organization, and sent to Germany’s federal prosecutor. Snowden then references the official ECCHR website.