By Jim Campbell
March 30th, 2018
by Tom Rogan
March 29, 2018
Leave it to the left to oppose Gina Haspel because she is O.K. with waterboarding.
Perhaps these fools have forgotten that Jihadists who follow no rules of war and the Geneva Conventions prefer beheading rather than talk.
Speaking to the Washington Examiner, three former career CIA professionals explained why they energetically endorse President Trump’s pick to become the next director of the CIA, Gina Haspel.
Mohammed Reza Haque, 36, is depicted in the video using a serrated hunting knife to cut off a prisoner’s head in the middle of a barren desert.
First up is Mark Kelton, a career CIA operations officer who retired from the agency in 2015.
Kelton says he first met Haspel while working on Russia.
She came across as a “tremendous professional,” Kelton says, “very, very capable and of the highest integrity.”
But what truly sets Haspel apart, Kelton says, is that she is “deeply steeped in the craft of intelligence.
Very, very adept at working the intelligence bureaucracy.”
Because of the “multitude of challenges” now facing the nation, Kelton argues that “it’s important that someone with her background — someone with an operational background — is leading the CIA.”
When I asked Kelton whether Haspel has the confidence to order officers to take risks, something that some critics of the agency say its directors are sometimes too reluctant to do, he responded with an interesting counterpoint.
“The key question about [success in leadership at] CIA is not whether you’re a risk-taker but whether you can manage risk effectively.
And that takes strategic and tactical awareness, and Gina has both.”
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How about briefing Trump and ensuring the intelligence process is protected from political interference?
Kelton admits that “it is never easy to be an intelligence officer working in a policy environment because your job is to deliver tough information.” But he adds that he has high confidence that Haspel will do what she must, which is “to present the information factually, present your interpretation of it factually, and go from there.”
What about those who say Haspel is unsuited to her nomination because of her association with Bush-era CIA counterterrorism efforts?
Kelton is clear: “The CIA officers who worked on those programs did so legally, but if you take [the critics argument] through to its logical conclusion, no CIA officer who’s ever worked on a contentious program can ever aspire to senior leadership.”
That’s a critical point that Americans need to ask themselves: Do we want a spy service that takes risks and delivers high-value products under directed legal authorities? Or do we want a spy service that takes paychecks and delivers uncontroversial paper stacks?
Adding to this sentiment is Jeanne Tisinger, a former CIA deputy director for support. “Gina has a unique ability to bring out the very best in every officer regardless of rank or discipline,” Tisinger said. “She is masterful at leveraging the whole of CIA against some of our nation’s most complex intelligence challenges.”
Tisinger adds that while “Haspel is intellectually curious, collaborative, and decisive,” and thus suited to command, she has earned her opportunity to sit at the director’s desk: “She has done the hardest jobs in the hardest places when our country needed her most.”
Another former CIA official, Carmen Middleton, offers still more reasons why Haspel is the right fit for the agency. Middleton met Haspel later in both’s careers, just after Haspel had become the second in charge of the DO, or Directorate of Operations (then known as the National Clandestine Service). She says she was immediately struck by how “unassuming, self-effacing” Haspel was in the context of what she had already achieved.
Middleton notes that rising to the top of what is a male-dominated side to the agency (the DO) made Haspel an obvious role model for other women across the agency. Moreover, she says, Haspel knows how to handle a crisis. “Senior [CIA] leaders are often sleep-deprived and stressed, but I have found her in those stressful moments just poised and the epitome of calm and focus.”
And like Kelton, Middleton says Haspel would stand up for those out in the field, the information they collect, and the analytical products their efforts feed into. “I’ve always found her to be straight forward, to share her opinion and her perspective. I would not see that changing in any way shape or form,” says Middleton. Haspel has genuine gravitas, Middleton says, and she is always “very much focused on the job, the mission, the outcomes, and the people.”
Middleton also makes a broader point about Haspel’s opportunity for the CIA, one that too often gets ignored in the Washington melee. And that’s the importance of role models.
“My experience is that people [at CIA] are hungry for role models, and I think if she’s able to break through this significant glass ceiling at the CIA and make history for the organization, it will be a powerful moment for young women, young people of color, who might not have thought about the agency or national security service to now do so,” she said.
Call me a useful idiot, but I truly believe Middleton and Kelton are right. We need more Americans from diverse backgrounds to join the CIA, of all agencies. Remember, Pakistani-Americans are more likely to blend into a Peshawar market than Anglo-Americans.
Republican Senators should work to persuade their Democratic colleagues to support this apolitical nominee. The world is in chaos, this is no time to play politics with intelligence leadership.
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