WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s choice to be the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency is a career spymaster who once ran an agency prison in Thailand where terror suspects were subjected to a harsh interrogation technique that the president has supported.
Gina Haspel, currently CIA’s deputy director, was named by President Trump to replace CIA director Mike Pompeo.
Haspel helped carry out an order that the agency destroy its waterboarding videos. That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges. Haspel, who has extensive overseas experience, briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002.
More than a decade after waterboarding was last used, the CIA is still haunted by the legacy of a tactic that the US government regarded as torture before the Bush administration authorised its use against terrorist suspects. There is no indication that Trump’s pick signals a desire to restart the harsh interrogation and detention programme.
Haspel, who joined the CIA in 1985, has been chief of station at outposts abroad. In Washington, she has held several top senior leadership positions, including deputy director of the National Clandestine Service and deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2018