First Female Nominee to Lead CIA Has Controversial Resume
Gina Haspel has ties to agency's waterboarding program
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2018 11:24 AM CDT
The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Newser) – With his decision to move CIA chief Mike Pompeo into the post of secretary of state, President Trump made a little history. He also nominated Gina Haspel to replace Pompeo, thus setting her up to be the first woman to run the spy agency. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate, and it's a safe bet that critics will raise the issue of Haspel's links to the CIA's controversial waterboarding program. Haspel, as was reported last year during her confirmation process to become deputy CIA chief, once ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand where terror suspects such as Abu Zubaydah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002, reports the AP. In fact, Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times, per NPR, which also notes that Haspel is accused of destroying videotapes of the interrogations after Congress demanded they be preserved.

The flip side of her resume is that Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and made a name for herself in covert operations, reports USA Today. Trump called Haspel an "outstanding person," and Time notes that President Obama's national intelligence director, James Clapper, said last year that he was happy she'd been nominated for the No. 2 post and that Haspel was "widely and deeply respected by the workforce." Still, the waterboarding issue had already surfaced in the first hours after Trump's announcement. "No one who had a hand in torturing individuals deserves to ever hold public office again, let alone lead an agency," said Human Rights First's Raha Wala, per the AP. No word yet on when the Senate confirmation process will begin. (Zubaydah lost his left eye after his capture by the CIA, though how is unclear.)

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