Gina Haspel Has the Resume, Reputation, and Unique Skill Set to Lead the CIA
‘[S]he has firsthand experience gathering foreign intelligence in an era of great-power competition and hard-won expertise in counterterrorism operations and analysis. In short, her resume could hardly be better tailored for the specific challenges that our nation faces at this very moment. As CIA Director, Gina Haspel would help defend the homeland from terrorists and help secure America’s position on the world stage.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the president’s nominee for Director of the CIA, Gina Haspel:
“This morning, the world has learned that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way back from North Korea with three American prisoners after securing their release. Two were detained last year. One had been in captivity since 2015. And now, following successful discussions, all three are on their way back to U.S. soil with our Secretary of State. I’m hopeful that, by approaching our ongoing negotiations with clear eyes, we can build on this progress and pursue a verifiable agreement to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arms.
“The United States faces a number of threats around the world. From the ambitions of dissatisfied powers such as Iran, China and Russia…To terrorism, cyber-attacks and the proliferation of missiles. In every instance, we need valuable foreign intelligence to inform policymakers and help us protect the American people.
“As we speak, our colleagues on the Intelligence Committee are hearing from one of President Trump’s nominees to help us confront these challenges. Gina Haspel is a tremendous choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. She would bring more direct, hard-earned experience to the role of CIA director than any leader in the agency’s history. Ms. Haspel is eminently qualified, she is widely esteemed, and she is absolutely the right person at the right moment for this position.
“First, her ample qualifications. Raised in a military family, Ms. Haspel had her sights set on attending West Point, until she found out that women were not yet allowed to attend at that time. It was the Army’s loss -- but my own alma mater, the University of Louisville, was happy to have her. With a knack for foreign languages, and a drive to, quote, ‘be part of something bigger than just me,’ she joined the CIA in 1985.
“As a talented clandestine operations officer, Gina Haspel took on a variety of challenging assignments and rose through the ranks. She earned the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism, and eventually transferred to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Her first day was September 11, 2001. After this 33-year career, Ms. Haspel won’t have to wonder what life is like for the men and women she’ll be leading. From clandestine missions overseas to headquarters at Langley, she’s lived it herself.
“It’s not surprising that Ms. Haspel has received so much praise from across the political spectrum -- including from those who have led the agency before her. President Obama’s former Director, John Brennan, calls her, quote, ‘an exceptionally well-respected professional.’ President Bush’s former Director, General Michael Hayden, says, quote, ‘Her only goal is to live out the agency’s mission…[S]he is a wonderful choice.’ And in a letter to our colleagues on the Intelligence Committee, a bipartisan group of 53 former national security leaders says her qualifications, quote, ‘match or exceed those of most candidates put forward in the Agency’s 70-year history.’
“So Ms. Haspel’s skill set is impressive -- and it’s an ideal match for the very strategic challenges that currently face our nation. As Secretary Mattis made clear in his new National Defense Strategy, our nation must be prepared for a new era of competition between powerful nations. ‘We’ll continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists,’ he explained a few months ago, ‘but great-power competition… is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.’ Well, Ms. Haspel is the perfect candidate to lead the Central Intelligence Agency through both these challenges.
“Her lengthy and distinguished CIA service spans both the Cold War and the Global War on Terror. As a result, she has firsthand experience gathering foreign intelligence in an era of great-power competition and hard-won expertise in counterterrorism operations and analysis. In short, her resume could hardly be better tailored for the specific challenges that our nation faces at this very moment. As CIA Director, Gina Haspel would help defend the homeland from terrorists and help secure America’s position on the world stage.
“This excellent nominee possesses the resume, the reputation, and the unique skill set to lead the CIA at this critical juncture. I’m glad my colleagues on the Senate Intelligence committee have the opportunity to meet with her and thoroughly examine her credentials. And I look forward to voting to confirm her soon here on the Senate floor.”
Related Issues: Nominations, National Security, North Korea