On Monday, May 21 CBS News reported that Gina Haspel was sworn in as the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency, after being nominated for the position by President Trump back in March. She had been serving as the Deputy Director of the CIA since 2017. According to CBS, the Senate confirmed Haspel, who has worked for the CIA for the last thirty-three years, with a vote of 54 to 45. In the same article, Haspel stated that working for the CIA had been a calling for her, and not just a career that she had chosen. Haspel’s long career with the CIA pleases some, with the notion that there will be someone in charge who understands how the agency needs to operate.

However, her ties to CIA 'black sites' in Thailand had some people questioning her nomination.

Haspel’s confirmation vote of 54 to 45 was fairly narrow considering that Mike Pompeo was confirmed with a 66 to 32 vote back in 2017, according to CNN. Haspel spent 32 of her 33 years with the CIA undercover; During her career, she oversaw a CIA 'black site' in Thailand.

The CIA Black Site: Cat’s Eye

There are two main focuses of the opposition to Haspel’s confirmation. One was that she was in charge of the 'black site' in Thailand back in 2002 where enhanced interrogation techniques were used; another point was that she drafted a cable her boss sent out which had CIA interrogation tapes destroyed in 2005.

CBS News reports that Haspel worked with the agency’s Counterterrorism Operations following the September 11th attacks. Her time with the Counterterrorism Operations, 2001 to 2004 was the most controversial subject of her confirmation. The Washington Post reported that in 2002 the 'black site' that Haspel oversaw codenamed Cat’s Eye, and was used to detain suspected members of Al Qaeda.

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At this site, an advanced interrogation technique known as waterboarding was used on two suspected Al Qaeda members, the tapes of which were destroyed.

Difficulties regarding confirmation

The New York Times reported that during Haspel’s testimony she refused to condemn the agency’s use of torture at the site in Thailand. This intensified the already building tension in Washington, with both lawmakers and human rights advocates believing that certain parts of her testimony needed to be placed under greater scrutiny than they were. Haspel, however, defended herself by saying that at the time the interrogations were legal.