CIA director nominee and acting CIA Director Gina Haspel is sworn in to testify at her Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 9, 2018. (Reuters)
The United States Senate today voted to confirm Gina Haspel as the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Haspel, facing allegations from opposition Democratic Senators and human rights bodies for her alleged role in CIA’s interrogation program post 9/11, was confirmed by the Senate by 54-45 votes, after six Democratic senators supported her nomination. Prominent among those was Senator Mark Warner, Ranking Member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. “Congratulations to our new CIA Director, Gina Haspel!” Trump tweeted soon thereafter. Haspel will be the first woman to lead the agency in its 70-year history.
A career CIA official for more than three decades now, Haspel, 61, is expected to be sworn in shortly as the top American spymaster. She worked in Africa, Europe and classified locations around the globe and was tapped as deputy director of the CIA last year. She worked under former CIA director Mike Pompeo until President Donald Trump moved him to the secretary of state.
During her illustrious career in the CIA, Haspel has worked in various capacities and has been stationed clandestinely overseas including her stint in Africa, wherein in the 80s she assisted Mother Teresa in humanitarian assistance. “Gina has clearly demonstrated that she is a person of high integrity with valuable frontline and executive experience as a career intelligence officer. Her confirmation represents the best we have to offer as a country. On behalf of the Intelligence Community, we salute Director Haspel, a trailblazer…,” said Daniel Coats, Director of National Intelligence.
During her confirmation hearing on May 9, Haspel assured lawmakers that under her leadership, the CIA will not restart a detention and interrogation program experienced during post 9/11. “Today the US Government has a clear legal and policy framework that governs detentions and interrogations. Specifically, the law provides that no individual in US custody may be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach that is not authorised by and listed in the Army Field Manual,” she said.
CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel raises her right hand as she is sworn in to testify at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Senator Marco Rubio applauded the Senate’s bipartisan confirmation of Haspel’s nomination for CIA director. “With her unparallelled CIA experience, she will hit the ground running and continue to lead the world’s finest intelligence agency. I look forward to working with her as she helps advance and protect America’s national security interests from the daily threats we face,” he said. “I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral—like a return to torture,” said Warner, who had initially opposed her nomination but finally voted yes.
“Gina Haspel is among the most qualified people to be nominated for the position. She’s served with the Agency for 33 years, including tours as a case officer, four times as a station chief, the deputy chief of the National Resources Division, the Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, and currently as CIA Deputy Director,” he said.
However, several members of the opposition Democratic party remained critical of her and voted against. “Ms Haspel played a central role in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. This was one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history and it must not be repeated,” Senator Diane Feinstein said.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director nominee Gina Haspel (C) attends Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s ceremonial swearing-in at the State Department in Washington, U.S. May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst