Gina Haspel becomes first woman to head CIA | News | DW | 21.05.2018
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Gina Haspel becomes first woman to head CIA

President Trump praised Gina Haspel as she was sworn in as the new head of the CIA. She's the first woman to head the agency, but her nomination was overshadowed by allegations she was involved in torture programs.

Gina Haspel called for more agents to be deployed overseas as she was sworn in as director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on Monday.

US President Donald Trump, who nominated Haspel after tapping former CIA head Mike Pompeo for secretary of state, said that there was "no one in this country better qualified" for the job.

Haspel is the first woman to head the US intelligence agency, a distinction she said she was proud of.

"I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations of CIA women who challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us," Haspel told agency employees at the swearing-in.

Read moreCIA: The Gina Haspel controversy runs deeper than her appointment

New plan for CIA

Haspel, who has worked for the agency for 33 years, also took the opportunity to outline her vision for the CIA.

She told agency staffers that she wants to increase the CIA's foreign language proficiency as well as strengthen the agency's relationships with intelligence agencies in partner nations.

She also said she wants to deploy "more of our officers to the foreign field."

CIA headquarters lobby in Langley, Virginia (Reuters/L. Downing)

Haspel's role in the CIA's enhanced interrogation methods drew criticism

Torture program allegations

The US Senate confirmed Trump's nomination of Haspel in a 54-45 vote last week.

Haspel's long career as a CIA agent and a supervisor of the agency's clandestine operations was praised by her supporters, who argued she was highly qualified to head the agency.

She faced a great deal of pushback, however, over her role in the agency's use of brutal interrogation methods after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.

Haspel was CIA station chief in Thailand in 2002 when the agency conducted harsh interrogations including waterboarding of suspected terrorists at secret "black site" facilities abroad. She's also been criticized for her role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes.

In a letter sent to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel appeared to reject the interrogation methods, writing: "With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken."

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