National Security

Who Is Gina Haspel?

Following his established pattern, President Trump upended Washington this morning with a single tweet.  He announced that Rex Tillerson is going to be replaced as Secretary of State by Mike Pompeo, the CIA Director.  Pompeo will be replaced by Gina Haspel, the current Deputy Director of CIA.

Who Is Gina Haspel?

Gina Haspel issued a simple, very correct statement after the President’s tweet.

“After thirty years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has been my honor to serve as its Deputy Director alongside Mike Pompeo for the past year.  I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Haspel is a career intelligence officer.  She joined CIA in 1985, and spent her career in the clandestine service.  She has extensive overseas experience and served as Chief of Station in several of her assignments.

Gina Haspel is highly respected within intelligence circles.  When Haspel was appointed Deputy Director, she endured harsh criticism from some congressional Democrats because she was involved in the rendition and interrogation of high level terrorists.  The criticism would have sidetracked most nominations, but Haspel was given support from intelligence officials of every ideological stripe, including many Obama administration officials.

When Gina Haspel was named Deputy Director, the CIA issued a statement about her qualifications and background.

“Gina is an exemplary intelligence officer and a devoted patriot who brings more than 30 years of Agency experience to the job. She is also a proven leader with an uncanny ability to get things done and to inspire those around her,” said Director Pompeo. “We are fortunate that someone of her intellect, skill, and experience will be our Deputy Director. I know she will do an outstanding job, and I look forward to working with her closely in the years ahead.”

Ms. Haspel is a career intelligence officer, having joined the CIA in 1985. In Washington, she has held numerous senior leadership positions at CIA, including as Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, Chief of Staff for the Director of the National Clandestine Service, and in the Counterterrorist Center.

Ms. Haspel is the recipient of numerous awards including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism; the Donovan Award; the Intelligence Medal of Merit; and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service.

Statements of Support for Gina Haspel

The CIA statement included several statements of support for Haspel.  They are reproduced below. Presumably the officials stand by their praise for her, and will not retract their support now that she has been nominated as Director.

  • Charles Allen, former Assistant Director for Collection at CIA: “As a CIA officer of 47 years, I can say without reservation that Gina Haspel has my strongest support in her appointment as Deputy Director. A deeply experienced clandestine officer who has held senior positions both at home and abroad, Ms. Haspel is not only an outstanding operations officer, but also a recognized program manager and an exceptional leader.  She has selflessly dedicated her life to the Agency and to the security of the nation.  CIA officers and Intelligence Community leaders writ large will applaud her selection.”
  • James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence: “I am very pleased to learn of Director Pompeo’s selection of Gina Haspel as Deputy Director. It speaks well of him for picking a seasoned veteran of the Agency who is widely and deeply respected by the workforce as well as those outside the Agency. She has the broad-gauged experience from both foreign and domestic assignments to serve as the right-arm for Director Pompeo. I am particularly gratified, since she has also been a strong proponent for integration, not only within CIA, but across the Intelligence Community.”
  • Michael Hayden, former CIA Director: “What a wonderful choice for Deputy Director, one that will be celebrated by current and former Agency officers alike. Ms. Haspel has responded with dignity, professionalism and honor to everything the Agency and nation have asked her to do. I am sure that she will be for Director Pompeo what Steve Kappes was for me — a trusted friend, lieutenant and guide to the sometimes opaque corridors of American espionage.”
  • Stephen Kappes, former Deputy Director of CIA: “A person of great honesty and integrity, Gina Haspel is a highly skilled Agency professional who has a complete understanding of all the parts of the intelligence business. Given her vast experience both at home and abroad, she is able to work effectively and collaboratively across the many elements of the National Security establishment. She is mission-focused, leads actively and never shies away from the difficult tasks. To these tasks, she also brings creativity and a sense of innovation, both of which will be important in a fast-changing world. Gina Haspel is an excellent choice to fill the Deputy’s role and support the new Director in his movement forward.”
  • Fran Moore, former Director for Intelligence at CIA: “Gina Haspel is an outstanding choice for Deputy Director. She is a seasoned, collaborative officer of great integrity who will be a tremendous partner for Director Pompeo in leading CIA.”
  • Michael Morell, former Deputy Director and twice Acting Director of CIA: “I applaud the appointment. Ms. Haspel will serve Pompeo, the Agency, and her country extremely well. She is widely respected throughout the Agency, and she will be welcomed in the new job by both current and former employees. I worked closely with Haspel from 2006 until my retirement from the Agency in 2013. During that time, I found her to be simply exceptional. She provides advice based on facts and analysis of facts. She gets things done in a quiet, yet effective way, and she is calm under fire. She appreciates the work of all CIA officers – analysts, scientists, and support specialists, as much as she appreciates operations officers.”
  • Mike Rogers, former Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: “I have had the privilege to work with Ms. Haspel during challenging and intense times for our nation’s security. She is an exceptional leader, patriot and consummate professional. She showed the savvy and grit needed in difficult situations that has garnered respect of colleagues and adversaries alike. Her commitment to the mission and rule of law are unparalleled.”

 

 

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Bart Marcois

Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) was the principal deputy assistant secretary of energy for international affairs during the Bush administration. Additionally, Marcois served as a career foreign service officer with the State Department.

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