Trump Sacks Secretary Of State, Tillerson, After Nigeria Visit

Gina Haspel nominated to be CIA director

Gina Haspel nominated to be CIA director

Gina Haspel, the veteran CIA undercover officer President Donald Trump picked yesterday to head the agency, is supported by many in the United States intelligence community but has faced criticism for overseeing a secret CIA prison in Thailand where detainees were tortured.

Haspel has served in a number of undercover overseas posts in addition to her work in Thailand, including as chief of the CIA station in London and the agency's base in NY.

But Ms Haspel, though well-respected by the intelligence community, is likely to face tough questions about her knowledge of waterboarding techniques used by U.S. intelligence agencies to interrogate suspects. "Trump is ours!" she declared.

"The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history", said Republican Senator John McCain, who was himself tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Corker said his committee would hold a confirmation hearing for Pompeo in April, committing to "consider his nomination as expeditiously as possible".

In 2009, days after taking office, Democratic President Barack Obama banned "enhanced interrogation techniques", including waterboarding, and ordered the closure of the secret detention sites.

Tillerson was widely loathed for his deep budget cuts; an institutional realignment that many diplomats felt came at their expense; and an inner circle that longtime officials considered to hoard information to the point of insulating Tillerson from the concerns they had about the direction of US foreign policy.

On Tuesday, some US intelligence officials said reports of her alleged involvement in interrogations involving torture were false.

But they did not immediately provide details.

Current and former USA intelligence officials who have worked with Haspel praised her as an effective leader who could be expected to stand up to the pressures that Trump has often placed on spy agencies - including his denunciations of the intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election. "This is a woman who has shown she is willing to break the law", said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

If confirmed, Haspel would face immediate tests on policy, said three current intelligence officials.

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Tillerson also appeared out of the loop last week when Trump announced he would meet with North Korea's leader and become the first sitting U.S. president to do so.

"We were not really thinking the same", Mr Trump said.

Tillerson's departure adds to a period of intense turnover within Trump's administration that has alarmed those both in and out of the White House.

The street wisdom among the foreign-policy set in Washington is that keeping the Iran nuclear deal in force is essential to diplomacy with North Korea.

One of the disagreements is over the Iran deal, which Mr Trump has said is awful. On the contrary, as Iran's vulnerabilities grow, it will expend more energy on defending a sphere of influence across the region via its militant proxies, political agents of influence and economic linkages. Pompeo drew from his own private sector experience in running the CIA by focusing on delegation at all levels to create more agility within the agency.

Pompeo lavished Haspel with praise when he selected her as his number two at the agency.

Haspel has served in a number of undercover overseas posts, including as chief of the CIA's station in London and its base in NY.

Haspel was sworn in as deputy director on February 7, 2017. "She isn't one to play politics, won't be soft on Russian Federation", said Nick Shapiro, former Central Intelligence Agency deputy chief of staff.

"She's somebody who tries to bring disparate elements together", the kind of collaboration that is important in intelligence work, said Hoffman.

"She is capable. She has integrity".

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