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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

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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