The CIA Needs Gina Haspel
From a young age, Gina Haspel has had a sense of public service and love for this great country. In high school, she told her parents she wanted to attend West Point; however, women were not admitted into West Point then. This did not stop Gina from pursuing her desire for public service, to be part of something bigger than herself. After attending college at Kentucky, Gina worked with the 10th Special Forces Group at Ft. Devens, running the library and foreign language lab – she is fluent in at least five languages. This is where she felt the call to join the CIA.
Haspel has an impeccable record of professional and public service at the Central Intelligence Agency, with over 30 years of experience, which extends from front-line work all the way to Acting Director of the CIA. She is the first female to serve as the agency’s Deputy Director – and to be nominated to lead the CIA as its director. At her first post as Chief of Station, she swiftly put together an operation that led to the capture of two terrorists linked to an embassy bombing.
Her actions not only brought these terrorists to justice but led to the discovery of computers detailing other terrorist plots. For her work, she received the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism. Her first day on the job at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center was September 11th, 2001, the fateful day that 19 al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States, killing thousands of Americans.
Despite the confusion and chaos, she went right to work and didn’t let up for over three years, working seven days a week to keep America safe and prevent terrorist attacks on our country.
Before being named Deputy Director by then-Director Pompeo, Haspel held many senior jobs: Chief of Staff to the Deputy Director for Operations, Chief of Station, and Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service. Haspel and Pompeo reenergized an agency that had low morale and other challenges.
She has developed a strong working relationship with now-Secretary of State Pompeo. They have proven to be a great team, partnering for the national security interests of the United States. Haspel was critical in key strategic national security decisions, giving valuable advice to the President and CIA Director.
The President trusts Haspel to carry out the job as CIA Director, and it would be an easy transition into the role that she is already fulfilling in the interim. Confirming Haspel to lead the CIA would also send the right message to the intelligence community, which knows her well as a career CIA officer.
Gina understands the agency as well as anyone and is ready to execute the job of Director – her career and experience speak volumes. It would be a shame for the opposition party in the Senate to follow the same unfortunate strategy they did with Mike Pompeo and politicize a qualified nominee during the confirmation process.
Not only would Haspel be making history as the first-ever female CIA Director, but she is also regarded as someone immensely qualified to do the job from former CIA Directors of Republican and Democratic Administrations.
It seems that there is some misinformation about her role involving allegations of torture at the agency during the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq war. In 2007, the House Intelligence Committee – then led by Democrats – investigated her role in the incident: “What we found was that Haspel was not depicted on the videotapes and that she did not make the decision to destroy the videotapes.” Moreover, Haspel has told Senators that she does not think this program should be authorized again.
We face threats from Russia, North Korea, Iran, and terrorist organizations across the globe. It is imperative that the CIA has a director that understands how to address these threats. With Gina Haspel at the helm, it will. Both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate should come together to support this extremely well-qualified nominee.
Lester Munson is a senior fellow at the National Security Institute. He previously served as the staff director to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Lester has over 25 years of experience on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch.