CIA paints a fuller picture of director nominee Gina Haspel's biography

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to be CIA director, grew up on US Air Force bases overseas, is a fan of Jo...

Posted: Mar 23, 2018 10:06 AM
Updated: Mar 23, 2018 10:06 AM

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to be CIA director, grew up on US Air Force bases overseas, is a fan of Johnny Cash and had her first day in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

She was born in Ashland, Kentucky, the oldest of five children, is an avid Kentucky Wildcats basketball fan and dreamed of going to West Point before she ultimately embarked on a 33-year CIA career that could culminate in her becoming the first female director of the agency.

Those were some of the biographical details the CIA provided to Congress on Thursday to better introduce -- and humanize -- the nominee to senators amid opposition from some Democrats and at least one Republican for her role in the George W. Bush administration's controversial detention and interrogation program.

Haspel's biography is largely unknown because of her lengthy undercover career.

Her extended bio, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes as the Trump administration and the Senate Intelligence Committee are in discussions about how much of her record should be declassified as part of the confirmation process. She's been on Capitol Hill this week making her initial rounds meeting with the committee and with senators, ahead of a confirmation process that has not been scheduled because she hasn't yet been formally nominated for the role.

Haspel's confirmation is shaping up to be a bruising fight, as senators are demanding details about her role at a "black site" in Thailand in 2002.

Haspel, who is currently deputy CIA director, was not at the black site during the brutal interrogation and waterboarding of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah, a detail several news outlets had reported incorrectly following her nomination, but she later ran the site after he was transferred and when other prisoners were interrogated using harsh tactics critics say are torture.

Senators also want to know her role in the CIA's destruction of tapes from interrogation sessions of terrorism detainees.

Those episodes are not included in the CIA's two-page biography, which was obtained by CNN. The CIA declined to comment Thursday.

The bio emphasizes Haspel's long career of service, which began before she joined the CIA.

It says Haspel wanted to go to West Point, and her father had to tell her at the time that the Army academy did not admit women. After she graduated from the University of Louisville -- while remaining a fan of the rival Wildcats -- she worked as a contractor with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Devens in Massachusetts.

She then applied to join the CIA, with a love of foreign languages and a desire "to be part of something bigger than just me," the bio quotes her as saying. Her first job was as a case officer in Africa, an experience she is quoted as describing as "right out of a spy novel."

She received the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism while working overseas when she received word that two terrorists linked to an embassy bombing were coming to the country and she put together the operation that led to their arrest.

Haspel requested a transfer to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, the bio says, and her first day on the job was September 11, 2001. "She walked in amid the commotion, sat down at a computer, and got to work. She didn't let up for three years, often working seven days a week," the biography says.

The end of the bio mentions her affinity for Johnny Cash, noting her office has a number of overseas mementos, along with a 5-foot-tall poster of the country music legend "as a symbol of American individualism."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
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Washington5425137
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Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
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Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
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George252251
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Attala215073
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Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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