Over the past week, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and the long-awaited Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell. Both men were subsequently sworn-in to their posts.
In the coming week, it is being reported that the Senate will host a hearing on for Gina Haspel, who now serves as the acting director of the CIA. Haspel has faced some criticisms from some senators, but will have a chance to defend herself once she meets before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 9th.
Per Washington Examiner:
The Trump administration believes she can be approved by the committee and ultimately win the 50 votes needed for confirmation, even though Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has said he would vote against her.
To get there, Haspel will be on Capitol Hill all week, and plans to meet with at least seven senators, an administration aide told the Washington Examiner. Haspel is facing opposition from lawmakers who question her role overseeing the agency’s use of enhance interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
She’ll have some time to win over senators. The Senate Intelligence panel is unlikely to vote on her nomination until the third week in May at the earliest.
Here’s more on Haspel, via the Wall Street Journal:
In a long career with the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel has held senior positions around the world supervising covert action, managing U.S. spies’ collection of human intelligence and working on counterterrorism efforts, according to biographical summary of her career declassified by the agency on Tuesday.
Haspel, who is President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next director of the CIA, held key roles in the agency’s post-Soviet European operations and international posts in more than 30 short-term assignments, the CIA said. She started with the agency 33 years ago in Africa as a young case officer.
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Until recently, much of Haspel’s life and career were classified by the agency. In March, the CIA revealed some basic biographical details, including her hometown and family background. If confirmed by the Senate, she would be only the second person to become director after spending an entire career in clandestine operations.
Much of the details surrounding missions Haspel has contributed to remains secret and the Senate has pressed the CIA for more information. At question by several members of the Senate committee is Haspel’s participation in an interrogation program. Many people argue that the incident amounted to torture and was covered-up through the destruction of video evidence on the program.
“Last month, the agency declassified and released a 2011 disciplinary review finding that Ms. Haspel didn’t order the destruction of tapes of interrogations containing evidence of what critics say is torture. Rather, that decision was made by her supervisor, who was reprimanded by the agency,” according to the Washington Examiner report.
Here’s even more on the acting CIA Director:
The newly declassified CIA timeline of Ms. Haspel’s career shows she worked as a case officer in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Africa and Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ms. Haspel become an intelligence-operations officer and then rose up the ranks in the agency’s Russia operations. Already partially fluent in Spanish and French, Ms. Haspel also learned Turkish and Russian while serving at the agency.
During Ms. Haspel’s career, she had an unexpected encounter with Mother Teresa. In the late 1980s, during her first overseas assignment, Ms. Haspel was working weekend duty when the legendary nun and missionary sought to speak to President Ronald Reagan about wheat shortages in a country that remains classified. Ms. Haspel invited her in, and the State Department arranged the phone call, leading Mother Teresa to invite Ms. Haspel to the local orphanage, people familiar with Haspel’s career said. The children also visited the U.S. embassy.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Haspel four times served as chief of station—the top CIA official in a country responsible for all the agency’s operations there. Three of those postings were in Europe or Central Asia, and one location remains classified.
In recent years, Ms. Haspel served in several top roles in the division of the CIA responsible for covert options, clandestine operations and the collection of on-the-ground intelligence. She also was the deputy chief of the National Resources Division, a CIA office charged with gathering intelligence from U.S. residents about their travels abroad and recruiting foreign visitors to become intelligence assets when they return home.
In 2001, Ms. Haspel was transferred to counterterrorism as the agency mounted a massive response to the Sept 11 attacks in New York and Washington. According to the CIA summary of her career, Ms. Haspel was deputy group chief of the Counterterrorism Center and then a senior-level supervisor there between 2001 and 2004.
During her time working in counterterrorism after 9/11, she oversaw CIA personnel who were involved in the interrogation of other suspects, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.