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What is known about Gina Haspel – the first woman in the post of director of the CIA

Until the coming to power of Donald Trump, she was denied a prestigious position because of her connection with the secret prison in the US, where terrorists were tortured.

Gina Haspel in 2017. As it is customary for former CIA operatives, it rarely performs publicly and is almost not photographed
Gina Haspel in 2017. As it is customary for former CIA operatives, it rarely performs publicly and is almost not photographed

On March 13, 2018, Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him. His own chair for the first time in the history of the United States will take a woman – 61-year-old Gina Haspel, the current first deputy head of the agency. Since 2002, she led a secret prison in Thailand, where the terror suspects were brutally tortured. One of the prisoners eventually lost his eye, and the records of the cruel methods of interrogation were destroyed.

The actions of the employee of the special services were repeatedly condemned, and during the presidency of Barack Obama she could not get a prestigious position. Everything has changed with the arrival of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly confirmed that he approves of torture against suspected terrorists.

Operative and leader of a secret prison

Haspel has worked in the CIA since 1985, most of the time she spent under cover, so little is known about her activities. After the September 11, 2001 attack, the George W. Bush administration declared war on terrorism, specifically against the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda (responsible for the September 11 bombings). At the same time, the US secret services began to open secret prisons to keep terrorists (the most famous being in Guantanamo ).

In 2002, Haspel was appointed head of the secret institution in Thailand. There are two prisoners of the prison known: Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. They were suspected in connection with the top of Al Qaeda and brutally interrogated with torture. For example, for a month Zubaida was 83 times tortured by water (he was poured water on the person’s face, causing suffocation), forced to spend the night in an uncomfortable box and regularly beat against the wall, as a result of which he lost his eye.

According to journalists and former CIA operatives, on record of tortures it is audible how 31-year-old Zubayd begs agents to stop and constantly repeats that he is not connected with terrorists. Despite the fact that the prisoner did not say anything useful, the torture continued for a long time.

Demonstration of torture by the water used against Abu Zubayd. Carefully, the movie contains shocking scenes
 Supporters of Haspel believe that she did not take an active part in leading the prison, and therefore she can not be accused of allowing torture. However, former operatives and participants in the interrogations told that the special services officer personally observed the torture. She always had the opportunity to stop the torture, but she asked the agents to continue, despite the lack of progress. Officially, this information is not confirmed.

The participation of Khaspel in interrogations was told by former CIA officer John Kiriakou in his memoirs. In 2012, he was found guilty of divulging secret information about the torture of suspected terrorists and sentenced to 23 months in prison.

In 2009, when the presidency was occupied by Barack Obama, he closed all secret US prisons and banned the torture of suspects. In the same year it became known that in 2005, CIA workers destroyed 92 records of interrogations in an institution in Thailand. At that time, they were still managed by Haspel, so, most likely, she demanded to get rid of evidence.

After the closure of the institution in Thailand, Abu Zubayd and Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri were transferred to Guantanamo prison. They are still there.


Under the administration of Barack Obama, Haspel did not achieve career successes and faced political problems. In 2013, she expected to take the place of the head of a large unit of the National Secret Service in the CIA, but Democratic senator Dianne Fainstein from the Standing Special Committee of the US Senate for Intelligence blocked the promotion. The official explained that he does not trust Haspel because of his past activities in Thailand.

In December 2014, the European Center for Human Rights brought charges against unnamed CIA operatives after the US Senate published a report on torture. In the same year, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Polish government to pay Zubayd and Al-Nashir 100,000 euros for violating the human rights convention. In the early 2000s, the country cooperated with the United States in the fight against terrorism.

In June 2017, the European Center for Human Rights, located in Germany, called on the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Supreme Court of the country to arrest Haspel on suspicion of torture of prisoners. As journalists note , this conflict can complicate the work of a special services officer, who sometimes has to travel to other countries.

Trump’s supporter

Shortly before the accusations of the European Center for Human Rights, in February 2017, Donald Trump appointed Haspel the first deputy head of the CIA. Colleagues in the special services approved the candidacy, but two senators openly opposed, recalling her prison in Thailand. “Her past makes her unfit for this position,” it was said in one of the letters to the president.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Photo of CQ Roll Call
CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Photo of CQ Roll Call

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who received the chair from Trump’s submission, initially supported the nomination of Haspel. He praised the “patriots” who used torture by water and other methods of brutal interrogation in the early stages of the fight against Al Qaeda. Shortly before the appointment of Haspel, the US media acquired a document indicating government plans to consider reviving secret prisons abroad.

It is not known whether the methods of torture will return to the CIA practice with the appointment of Haspel. Donald Trump supports the hard methods of interrogating agents of special services, including torture by water, if you can use them to find out valuable information.

Despite the ambiguous reputation, many employees of US special services have always supported and respected Haspel. Among them are the former director of the CIA and the ardent critic Trump Michael Morell. “She gives advice on the basis of facts and analytics. She does the work in a quiet but effective manner, and feels calm under fire, “- described the colleague Morell

After 30 years of working for the CIA, it was an honor for me to be the deputy director for the last year with Mike Pompeo. I am flattered by the trust of President Trump and I am grateful to him for the opportunity to become the next Director of the CIA.

Gina Haspel
appointed director of the CIA
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