Trump’s CIA pick is ca­reer spy­mas­ter, over­saw prison

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pick to be the next di­rec­tor of the CIA is a ca­reer spy­mas­ter who over­saw tor­ture at a se­cret prison dur­ing one of the dark­est chap­ters in the agency’s his­tory.

If con­firmed, 61-year-old Gina Haspel would be­come the first fe­male head of the CIA.

She’s de­scribed by col­leagues as a sea­soned vet­eran with 30-plus years of in­tel­li­gence ex­pe­ri­ence who would lead the agency with in­tegrity. But it’s the few years she spent su­per­vis­ing a se­cret black site that will be closely scru­ti­nized at her con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing.

Trump an­nounced on Tues­day that he had cho­sen Haspel to suc­ceed Mike Pom­peo, who is re­plac­ing ousted Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son. She joined the CIA in 1985 and has been deputy di­rec­tor of the agency since Fe­bru­ary 2017.

Be­tween 2003 and 2005, Haspel over­saw a se­cret CIA prison in Thai­land where ter­ror sus­pects Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were wa­ter­boarded, cur­rent and for­mer U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials said. Wa­ter­board­ing is a process that sim­u­lates drown­ing and is widely con­sid­ered to be a form of tor­ture. Haspel also helped carry out an or­der to de­stroy wa­ter­board­ing videos, which prompted a lengthy Jus­tice De­part­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tion that ended with­out charges.

Trump has said that he would rein­tro­duce wa­ter­board­ing and “a lot worse,” but there’s no in­di­ca­tion that his de­ci­sion to pick Haspel sig­nals a de­sire to restart the harsh in­ter­ro­ga­tion and de­ten­tion pro­gram. He would face steep le­gal and leg­isla­tive hur­dles if he tried.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Haspel must ex­plain the na­ture and ex­tent of her in­volve­ment in the CIA’s in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram.

“Cur­rent U.S. law is clear in ban­ning en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques,” said McCain, who was beaten as a pris­oner dur­ing the Viet­nam War. “Any nom­i­nee for di­rec­tor of the CIA must pledge with­out reser­va­tion to up­hold this pro­hi­bi­tion.”

For­mer CIA Di­rec­tor John Bren­nan de­clined to say what Haspel’s ex­act role was in the in­ter­ro­ga­tion pro­gram, but he told NBC that she has a “lot of in­tegrity” and has tried to carry out her agency du­ties “when asked to do dif­fi­cult things in chal­leng­ing times.”

Bren­nan pre­dicted she would be con­firmed. “Gina is a very com­pe­tent pro­fes­sional who I think de­serves the chance to take the seat,” he said.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chair­man of the Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, which will vote whether to con­firm Haspel, said she has the “right skill set, ex­pe­ri­ence and judg­ment” to lead the CIA.

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