Gina Haspel: Insider as CIA Boss

By Olawale Rasheed

Before Washington rivalry beclouds assessment, the new boss of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a widely acclaimed spymaster with tested antecedents in the intelligence world. The choice of Gina Haspel is within the professional circle the best appointment so far made by President Donald Trump.

Let forget the fact that the appintment is a big toast to the women-folk few days after International Women’s Day. The new spy chief is not a product of Beijing Affirmative Action.She earned the coveted office.

President Trump really disappointed his critics by this very apt choice. Her records compare even highly with that of the best of the past CIA bosses.President Trump certainly got this one right.

A better understanding of Haspel’s qualification for the top job was the applause that greeted her appointment as the Deputy director of the CIA.

Top leaders of the intelligence community hailed her choice then. When she was picked as deputy CIA director, her career was lauded by veteran intelligence officials, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who recently retired.

Ms  Haspel has had a long career at the CIA. The 61-year-old, who joined the CIA in 1985, has been chief of station at CIA outposts abroad. In Washington, she has held several 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.

In the course of difficult turbulent career, she had handled equally difficult assignments including the unfortunate cases of terror detainees. In line of duty,the post-911 climate in the United States compelled the intelligence community to act in whatever way to protect the motherland. Haspel as a state officer executed her statutory duty in conformity with commands and national security imperative.

Rating the new Spy Chief on account of her service in Thailand alone amounts to denying the monumental service she has rendered in a career spanning almost three decades .There is also the liberal obsession,the tendency to place the interest of terror suspects above sacred demands of national security.

An outstanding officer in all ramifications, she has been awarded the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counter-terrorism; the Donovan Award; the Intelligence Medal of Merit; and the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service. She is well-respected in the intelligence community.

From the CIA press release, top operatives in and out of service have praised her emergence as Deputy Director and now as Director.

Some of the review are republished below:

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 have garnered respect of colleagues and adversaries alike. Her commitment to the mission and rule of law are unparalleled.”

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