CIA's New No. 2 Ran a Secret Prison in Thailand

Gina Haspel is the first female to hold the position
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2017 4:00 AM CST
The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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(Newser) – Gina Haspel ran a "black site" CIA prison in Thailand where detainees were tortured—and now she's a step away from running the entire CIA. The veteran officer was named Thursday as deputy director, making her the first female spy to hold the No. 2 position, reports Reuters. Critics fear this could signal a return to waterboarding, though many in the intelligence community praised President Trump's choice, with CIA Director Mike Pompeo calling her an "exemplary intelligence officer" with "an uncanny ability to get things done," Politico reports. At the CIA site in Thailand, one of the things Haspel got done was destroying videotapes of al-Qaeda suspects being waterboarded, congressional and intelligence sources tell Reuters.

Haspel oversaw "harsh interrogation" at the site in 2002 that included having detainee Abu Zubaydah waterboarded 83 times in a month, among other methods, the New York Times reports. As second-in-command, she won't require Senate confirmation, though some senators joined the ACLU in expressing deep misgivings about Haspel's appointment. "I appreciate Ms. Haspel's many years of service at the CIA, yet I want some reassurance from her that she intends to comply with both the spirit and the letter of the law, like Director Pompeo testified that he would during his confirmation process," said Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Trump says he believes torture works.)

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