Who is Gina Haspel?

Haspel joined the CIA in 1985

CIA via CNN

President Trump's pick to head the CIA, Gina Haspel

By Maegan Vazquez, CNN - President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, would be the first female director of the intelligence agency if confirmed.

Haspel, who served as deputy director of the agency under Mike Pompeo, Trump's pick to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, since February 2017, has accepted the new role, saying in a statement that she was "grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in" her.

Haspel is a career intelligence officer who joined the CIA in 1985.

In her appointment last year as deputy director, Haspel garnered praise from high-level Obama-era and Bush-era appointees, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

During her time at the agency, Haspel has held several senior leadership positions, including directorial roles in the National Clandestine Service and in the Counterterrorism Center, as well as several Chief of Station roles, a news release from the CIA said. Haspel has received several awards in her career, including the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service.

According to The New York Times, Haspel has spent most of her career undercover.

While running a CIA prison in Thailand, dubbed a "black site," Haspel oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and her name was on a cable giving instructions to destroy video evidence documenting their interrogations, according to the Times. One of the suspects was reportedly waterboarded 83 times in one month.

Haspel, the Times reported in February, played a direct role in the agency's program that gave captured militants to foreign governments and held them at secret sites, where they were tortured by CIA staff.

Haspel was Jose Rodriguez's chief of staff when he ran the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, according to former CIA officials. According to Rodriguez's memoir, "Hard Choices," he asked Haspel to prepare a cable granting permission to destroy tapes of the interrogation sessions of terror detainees -- including Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda suspect who was waterboarded while in CIA custody, according to a Senate report -- with an industrial shredder. However, Rodriguez said he personally sent the cable.

Haspel will likely face opposition in her Senate confirmation for her involvement in the Thailand incident.

In 2013, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein blocked Haspel's promotion within the clandestine service, the Times reported. And in 2017, a handful Senate Democrats called on Trump to withdraw Haspel from consideration for her role as deputy director, according to The Hill.

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