Gina Haspel sworn in as CIA’s first female director

Gina Haspel sworn in as CIA’s first female director

Washington, May 22 (IANS) Gina Haspel was sworn in on Monday as the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its 71-year history.

Speaking at a ceremony at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, in the US state of Virginia, Haspel said that she is honoured to lead the agency, calling her service of over 30 years at it “more than a career”, Xinhua news agency reported.

Haspel said that she intends to send more officers into the field, improve foreign language proficiency among the ranks and strengthen the agency’s working relationships with counterparts in partner nations.

US President Donald Trump, who also spoke during the event, praised Haspel’s qualifications to take the job.

Vice President Mike Pence and Haspel’s predecessor Mike Pompeo, now the secretary of state, attended the ceremony.

Haspel was confirmed in a 54-45 vote in the Senate last week largely along party lines, but six Democrats supported her and two Republicans voted against her.

The nomination came under fire for Haspel’s past ties to the CIA’s former rendition, detention and interrogation program carried out in the years following the September 11 attacks.

The program used so-called enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, now widely considered torture.

In 2002, Haspel supervised a secret prison in Thailand where harsh interrogations were conducted and she destroyed CIA interrogation tapes years later. Her specific role in the programme remains classified.

During her confirmation hearing earlier this month, Haspel promised that the program would not be restarted under her leadership, even if pressed to do so by the president.

Trump had said that “torture works” and that he would consider using it again.

In a letter to Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, last week, Haspel wrote that the interrogation program “is not one the CIA should have undertaken,” a stance that helped her secure enough votes to be approved by the Senate.