My VIP for this week is Gina Cheri Walker Haspel. She was confirmed on Thursday, May 17, 2018, to be the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was confirmed by a vote of 54-45 with Senator John McCain not attending due to illness and two other Republicans voting against her. They were offset by six Democrat Senators voting for her. The controversy about her role with “enhanced interrogation techniques” caused many questions about whether or not she would be confirmed.
Haspel served previously as the Deputy Director under Mike Pompeo – the second female to serve in that position. When Pompeo resigned to become U.S. Secretary of State, Haspel became the Acting Director of the CIA.
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He spoke on the Senate floor in support of Haspel’s nomination to become the next Director of the CIA – the first woman and first career member of the organization to do so. He highlighted her “distinguished career” and pushed “back against partisan opposition.”
She has done an outstanding job at the CIA. She began working at the CIA in 1985 during the closing days of the Cold War. She was stationed literally all over the world – in Africa, for example. She recruited and handled agents and survived a coup d’état. She worked with government partners during the first gulf war. She ran different CIA stations around the world. She started with the Counterterrorism Center at the CIA on September 11, 2001, and essentially has spent her life since that time focusing on keeping our country safe.
Let me just end by saying that here is how it is not supposed to work. We have a very dangerous situation, like we had after 9/11. We asked our best and brightest to risk their lives to defend this country, to do really tough operations all around the world. We go tell them to do things. This body is briefed on it. We tell them it is legal, and then later, we said: do you know what? Now we are going to hold that against you.
Maybe Sullivan’s comments had some effect on a few Senators. Maybe they did not. However, the U.S. Senate finally got its act together and confirmed a proven leader. After the voting was over and Haspel was confirmed, Sullivan congratulated his colleagues in the Senate.
I was proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to confirm the first woman who will have risen from the ranks of the CIA to lead the agency. … Gina Haspel is known throughout the intelligence community and the national security establishment as a person of determination, intelligence and honor. I’m confident that she will lead the agency with the kind of integrity and resolve that is necessary during this time of complex global threats. She has devoted her life to our country – we are grateful and will give her all the help she needs to lead the best intelligence-gathering agency in the world.