In the storied history of America's intelligence community, running the CIA has long been perceived as a man's job — until now, with President Donald Trump naming Gina Cheri Haspel to run the nation's premier spy agency.
And a quick look at her background reveals that Haspel certainly has the street creds for the highly sensitive position.
Haspel, 61, has been deputy director of the CIA for the past 13 months and oversaw a CIA program said to have used punishing interrogation tactics on terrorism suspects.
In a New Yorker article that ran in February 2017, reporter Dexter Filkins wrote that the program "subjected dozens of suspected terrorists to savage interrogations, which included depriving them of sleep, squeezing them into coffins, and forcing water down their throats."
In addition, Haspel was present at the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaida suspect who was "tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead," according to Filkins.
Despite the controversy, Haspel, who first joined the CIA in 1985, is the recipient of the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award, the Intelligence Medal of Merit and the Presidential Rank Award.
According to her CIA biography, Haspel has extensive overseas experience and served as Chief of Station in several of her assignments.
In Washington, she has held numerous senior leadership positions, including as Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service, Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action, and Chief of Staff for the Director of the National Clandestine Service.
Her personal life is shrouded in privacy. She lives in Ashburn, Virginia, but little has been released about her early life and family.
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