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Meet America's first woman to be nominated as CIA chief

  • Published at 07:34 am March 14th, 2018
  • Last updated at 09:10 am March 14th, 2018
Meet America's first woman to be nominated as CIA chief
Gina Haspel, nominated to be America’s first woman spy chief, is a CIA veteran with more than 30 years of experience and believed to be well-liked and respected for her work by colleagues. She has also been a controversial figure for allegedly running a secret prison in Thailand where suspected al-Qaeda members were subjected to torture by applying what the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) called “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Haspel has served as an intelligence officer and several top positions in Washington, including acting deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, a section in the CIA Currently, Haspel is serving as the deputy director of the CIA and got the top job after her boss, Mike Pompeo, was picked by US President Donald Trump to be the next secretary of state. In a statement issued to the press, Haspel said: “After thirty years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency...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 CIA.” Former spy chiefs have had nothing but praise for “dignity and professionalism” and President Trump called her an “outstanding person.” “Gina, by the way, who I know very well, who I've worked very closely, will be the first woman director of the CIA. She's an outstanding person who also I have gotten to know very well,” said Trump. She is the winner of George H W Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism and also the Intelligence Medal of Merit. But human rights organizations have raised concerns over her appointment and that she may have to face some tough questioning by the Senate during her confirmation hearing. In Thailand, she is believed to have overseen the interrogation of two al-Qaeda suspects, Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, where they were subjected to highly controversial interrogation methods like waterboarding. An investigative news website, ProPublica found that Abu Zubayda was waterboarded 83 times in one month, deprived of sleep and later CIA decided that he did not have any useful information. The website reported that Haspel personally signed cables to CIA headquarters that detailed Zubayda’s torture. It was also reported that the videos of the torture were destroyed in 2005 on the orders of Haspel. President Obama had ordered the so-called ”black sites,” where such interrogations were carried out, to be shut down. President Trump has been ambivalent on the issue of using harsh interrogation methods like waterboarding. During his election campaign, he strongly advocated bringing waterboarding back but has not implemented it after moving into the White House. Outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo has also been supportive of the idea of enhanced interrogation techniques and many are raising questions whether Haspel’s appointment will reintroduce practices like waterboarding. Christopher Anders, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, has raised concerns about her appointment. “Gina Haspel was a central figure in one of the most illegal and shameful chapters in modern American history,” Anders said in a statement. He has also asked the CIA to “declassify and release every aspect of Haspel's torture record before considering the nomination.” This article was first published on banglatribune.com
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