Gina Haspel Is Appointed CIA Director

Gina Haspel ran CIA's first 'black site’ and was involved in the destruction of videotapes of interrogations to change evidence and any news reporting.

Gina Haspel (pictured) has been named by US President Donald Trump as new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, becoming the first woman to hold the post if confirmed by the Senate. 

Trump announced recently that Haspel, currently the intelligence agency's deputy director, would be replacing Mike Pompeo, who was appointed the new secretary of state after incumbent Rex Tillerson was sacked. 

In a statement issued by Trump to the Washington Post, he said the nomination of Gina Haspel was "a historic milestone". Speaking to reporters, the president said Haspel is "an outstanding person". But Haspel's career is a point of concern with many human rights advocates. Haspel became the US spy agency's second-in-command in February 2017, but joined the CIA as an intelligence officer in 1985.

Her former posts at the intelligence agency include deputy director of the national clandestine service for foreign intelligence and covert action.

The former Deputy CIA head has operated "black site" prisons and drafted orders to destroy evidence that would reveal torture.

"I think she's a particularly disastrous choice, being one of the principal actors" in the torture programme of former President George W Bush, Alberto Mora, the former general counsel for the US Navy and a senior fellow at the Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy

Controversial past
The New York Times reported in 2017 that Haspel played a direct role in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition programme" through which captured fighters were abducted and tortured.

She ran the CIA's first overseas detention site in Thailand, also known as a "black site", in the early 2000s. The detention centre was the place at which the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, two Saudi citizens currently held in the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba for alleged links to al-Qaeda, took place.

The interrogations involved extensive use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques, the term used for waterboarding and other interrogation methods internationally classified as torture.

Haspel's rise to the head of the US spy agency should cause concern, Mora said: "To hold her up as an exemplar, an individual whose career will serve as guidance to those who will join the agency in the future, is shocking".

Human Rights Evidence Destroyed
A 2005 US justice department memo said Zubaydah was water boarded 83 times in a single month in 2002. A 2014 report by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the CIA's detention and interrogation programme said these techniques were used on Zubaydah "with significant repetition for days or weeks at a time".

The reports also said the techniques included slamming him against a wall, sleep deprivation and forced nudity. Maya Foa, director of international human rights organisation Reprieve, said in a statement delivered to Al Jazeera that Haspel "is simply not fit to hold an office that requires, at its very heart, a commitment to uphold the values of the Constitution".  

Videotapes of the interrogations in Thailand were destroyed on the orders of a cable drafted by Haspel and agreed to by her former boss, then-CIA director of counterterrorism operations Jose Rodriguez. 

"This is not just another political controversy. Of all the problematic nominations that have been made, this is the most problematic by far," John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch, told Al Jazeera. 

"Haspel is complicit in the destruction of videos of interrogations. She drafted the order to destroy the videos even after the White House instructed the CIA not to do so.

"This is a woman who has shown she is willing to break the law. That is the most disturbing thing about the nomination," he said. 

Still, Haspel enjoys widespread support from within the US intelligence community.  When she was appointed as deputy director in 2017, she was described by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as "a seasoned veteran of the agency who is widely and deeply respected by the workforce". 

Michael Hayden, former National Security Agency director, told US broadcaster NPR, "In all this turmoil, I actually think CIA is going to be a bit of a calm spot with Gina now being elevated to the director position." 

Rami Khouri, a senior fellow at the American University of Beirut, told Al Jazeera Haspel's appointment was "in keeping" with previous actions by the Trump administration.

"This is very much in line with what we've seen ... Appointing people in high positions who are, to say the least, controversial - not only in terms of their views but in terms of their adherence to fundamental ethics and law in the US and international law against torture," he said.

Foa, the director of Reprieve, agreed.The "appointment should be a warning to allies of the US in the UK, Europe and around the world to rethink their cooperation with an administration which has refused again and again to show respect for the values we all share", Foa said.

Requested arrest warrant
The European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in June 2017 requested that the German public prosecutor issue an arrest warrant for Haspel for her role in the torture at the black site in Thailand. The Berlin-based organisation had asked German prosecutors to investigate torture by CIA operatives in December 2014 after publication of the CIA torture report. 

“It’s a really bad sign that [Haspel] should be named as CIA director,” Andreas Schueller, the head of the ECCHR's international crimes and accountability programme, told Al Jazeera. “We think she should stand trial to defend herself against the allegations that she was involved in torture and she shouldn’t be appointed to any position."

Haspel's nomination still requires confirmation by the US Senate, a process she did not have to go through to be installed as deputy director. 

"We could see her nomination fail," Sifton says. "This is a point where Senators should care about the rule of law. This is a bridge too far."

Al Jazeera

You Might Also Read: 

US Spy Chiefs Look For UK Guidance On Cybersecurity:

The CIA Discovers It Has A Mole:

CIA Malware Unveiled:

 

« A Cyberattack Is The #1 Risk For Business
Blockchain: What Business Executives Need To Know »

Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

Authentic8

Authentic8

Authentic8 transforms how organizations secure and control the use of the web with Silo, its patented cloud browser.

Jooble

Jooble

Jooble is a job search aggregator operating in 71 countries worldwide. We simplify the job search process by displaying active job ads from major job boards and career sites across the internet.

eBook: Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud

eBook: Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud

AWS Marketplace would like to present you with a digital copy of the new book, Practical Guide to Security in the AWS Cloud, by the SANS Institute.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO is the market leader in HPE Non-Stop Security, Risk Management and Compliance.

CSI Consulting Services

CSI Consulting Services

Get Advice From The Experts: * Training * Penetration Testing * Data Governance * GDPR Compliance. Connecting you to the best in the business.

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

A simple and cost-effective solution to monitor, investigate and analyze data from the web, social media and cyber sources to identify threats and make better security decisions.

Clayden Law

Clayden Law

Clayden Law are experts in information technology, data privacy and cybersecurity law.

Cylance Smart Antivirus

Cylance Smart Antivirus

An antivirus that works smarter, not harder, from BlackBerry. Lightweight, non-intrusive protection powered by artificial intelligence. BUY NOW - LIMITED DISCOUNT OFFER.

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

Backup Technology

Backup Technology

Backup Technology is a world leader in the Online Cloud Backup, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity market.

Automation & Cyber Solutions (ACS)

Automation & Cyber Solutions (ACS)

Automation & Cyber Solutions delivers a range of Industrial Automation and Cyber solutions & services to sectors including Oil & Gas, Chemicals & Petrochemicals, Power and others.

TUV Rheinland OpenSky

TUV Rheinland OpenSky

TUV Rheinland OpenSky offers one of the most advanced and integrated portfolio of security solutions and services for connected devices, platforms and IoT.

Capula

Capula

Capula is a leading system integration specialist for control, automation and operational IT systems across all applications and industry sectors.

AU10TIX

AU10TIX

AU10TIX harnesses the technology that enabled safe borders and airports, to transform the way businesses verify and authenticate their users.

SimSpace

SimSpace

SimSpace is the visionary yet practical platform for measuring how your security system responds under actual, sustained attack.

Shevirah

Shevirah

Shevirah specializes in products for automated mobile and IoT device vulnerability assessment, penetration testing, and mobile security awareness training.

Networks Unlimited

Networks Unlimited

Networks Unlimited is a leading value-added distributor in Africa, providing technology solutions with a focus on security, networking, enterprise systems management and cloud technologies.