President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated Gina Haspel to assume the top spot at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after current director Mike Pompeo was chosen to succeed outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The high-level shakeup comes ahead of Trump’s possible meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Here are three things you need to know about the incoming CIA director.
First female director
Haspel will be the first female director of the CIA in the agency’s 70-plus year history. She will be promoted from her post as deputy director. Beginning her career in 1985, she has served more than 30 years with the organization. Haspel has worked with Pompeo for more than a year, and Trump told The Washington Post in a statement that the pair have developed a “great mutual respect.”
In 2002, Haspel was a part of a now-banned, top-secret, CIA torture program. She spent a lot of time during her tenure as an undercover officer overseas and ran the first overseas detention site in Thailand, where she oversaw the torture of terrorism suspects, according to The New York Times. Her name was later on a 2005 memo asking for the destruction of the recordings of the brutal interrogations of two terrorism suspects, for which she was present.
Torture tactics reportedly included depriving suspects of sleep and squeezing them into coffins.
The CIA later wanted Haspel to run the organization’s clandestine operations, according to the Times, but she was blocked from the promotion at the time by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) because of her role in the torture program.
Haspel has received numerous awards during her time with the CIA, including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism and the Presidential Rank Award, among others.
Trump chose Haspel as deputy director of the agency in 2017.
Both Pompeo and Haspel will have to be confirmed before they can assume their new roles with the State Department and CIA, respectively.
Haspel said in a statement on Tuesday she was “humbled” by President Trump’s confidence in her.