New CIA director nominee Haspel involved in torture program

By Sara Shayanian  |  March 13, 2018 at 11:08 AM
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March 13 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's new nominee to take over as CIA director -- the first woman to do so -- is a 30-year veteran in the agency who was involved in secret torture programs for terrorism suspects.

Deputy Director Gina Haspel was tapped by Trump to replace Mike Pompeo as the director of central intelligence -- after he replaced Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a Cabinet shakeup Tuesday morning.

Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and has spent most of her career as an undercover operative.

Last month, The New Yorker noted Haspel's career with the agency and said she'd worked with secret CIA programs, including one known by its initials, R.D.I. -- rendition, detention and interrogation. The program involved the CIA taking terror suspects from their home nations and aggressively interrogating them at other locations, sometimes in other countries.

In 2002, Haspel oversaw torturous interrogations of two terrorism suspects, Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, The New York Times reported last month.

Zubayadah was subjected to waterboarding -- an interrogation method that simulates drowning -- 83 times and had his head repeatedly slammed into walls. By the time interrogators realized he had no useful information to share, Zubayadah had lost sight in his left eye.

Videotapes recording the interrogations were stored in a CIA station in Thailand before they were ordered destroyed in 2005, with Haspel's name on the cable carrying the destruction orders.

Before becoming deputy director of the CIA last year, Haspel served as the deputy director of the National Clandestine Service, deputy director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action and chief of staff for the director of the National Clandestine Service.

Haspel has received numerous awards during her career, 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.

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