Veteran CIA officer Gina Haspel was recently sworn in as the agency’s first female director, hailing the “heroines” who had gone before her and expressing hope she and her team would be “role models.” The 61-year-old Haspel, a Russia specialist who spent her career in the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service, takes over from Mike Pompeo, whom Trump recently made his secretary of state. Haspel was confirmed by the Senate last week in a 54-45 vote, despite the deep reservations of some lawmakers about her past involvement in the torture of terror suspects in the post-9/11 era.
“I stand on the shoulders of heroines who never sought public acclaim, but served as inspirations to the generations that came after them,” Haspel said after being sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence and introduced by President Donald Trump. “I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations” of women officers, she said at CIA headquarters in Virginia.
“In roles both large and small,” Haspel said they “challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us.” “I am deeply indebted to them and I am extremely proud to follow in their footsteps and to carry on their extraordinary legacy.”
She joked about her bruising confirmation hearing, which dug into her work overseeing a secret “black site” prison in Thailand. It was there that Al-Qaeda suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were water-boarded, an interrogation technique subsequently condemned as torture.
“It has been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become the director and after the experience of the last two months, I think I know why that is,” she told officers and invited guests.