Washington: Gina Haspel, who succeeds Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s new secretary of state, is the first woman to lead the CIA.
As Trump participated in the swearing-in of his new CIA director on Monday, President acknowledged the difficulties that Haspel’s nomination had faced but said her strong performance at her confirmation hearing turned things around.
The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Haspel’s nomination, 54 to 45, despite lingering concerns about the role she played in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after the 11th September, 2001, attacks.
Trump had wavered in his backing for Haspel, at times expressing doubt in private meetings about whether she had the support to win confirmation, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Earlier this month, Haspel sought to withdraw after some White House officials worried that her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program could derail her chances.
Trump decided to push for Haspel to stay in the running, after first signaling he would support whatever decision she made, administration officials said.
In late 2002, Haspel, then a senior leader at the Counter terrorism Center, managed a secret detention facility in Thailand where two al-Qaida suspects were water boarded.
During her confirmation hearing, Haspel insisted she would never allow torture at the CIA again, and she said she would be guided in the future by her own “moral compass.” But she resolutely avoided saying whether, at the time, she thought the secret detention and “enhanced interrogation” of suspected terrorists was moral.
From the moment she was nominated to succeed Pompeo, Haspel had faced major confirmation hurdles.