Donald Trump has fired Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and said he would nominate CIA director Mike Pompeo as his replacement. The new director of the Central Intelligence Agency will be Gina Haspel, provided that her nomination is confirmed by the Senate.
Here are some important footnotes about Haspel’s career:
- Haspel will be the first female CIA director in history. The position, which dates back to 1946 when President Truman established the CIA, has to this date been held by 24 different men.
- Haspel has more than 30 years of history with the CIA. She joined the agency in 1985 and has served the majority of her career in clandestine operations.
- In 2002, Haspel ran a “black site” prison in Thailand, which was part of a network of prisons established by the agency, as reported by the Washington Post. The site was where Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected al Qaeda terrorists, had been waterboarded and interrogated before Haspel’s arrival.
- Haspel has been linked to the illegal destruction of videotapes of these interrogations, but no prosecution ever came of it.
- Haspel, currently acting deputy director of the CIA, has previously served as deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, chief of staff for the director of the National Clandestine Service.
- Haspel received numerous awards for her service. According to the CIA, Haspel has received 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.”
Trump told reporters Tuesday morning that Haspel is “an outstanding person who also I have gotten to know very well.”
“So I’ve gotten to know a lot of people very well over the last year, and I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want,” Trump said.
Mike Rogers, former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said of Haspel in a statement:
“I have had the privilege to work with Ms. Haspel during challenging and intense times for our nation’s security. She is an exceptional leader, patriot and consummate professional. She showed the savvy and grit needed in difficult situations that has garnered respect of colleagues and adversaries alike. Her commitment to the mission and rule of law are unparalleled.”
Editor’s note: The story has been updated to note that Haspel arrived at the Thailand site after the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.