The White House appointed a career intelligence officer Thursday to be deputy director of the CIA, assuaging concerns that a second outsider would be brought into the agency as part of a housecleaning.
Gina Haspel, a 31-year veteran of the agency with extensive overseas experience, will serve as the deputy to CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who left his congressional seat to lead the agency, the White House said. She will be the first career female officer appointed to the position.
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Retired intelligence chiefs praised the choice of Haspel, a former chief of staff and deputy director of the clandestine service, the undercover arm of the spy agency.
Haspel is “a wonderful choice” who will guide Pompeo through the “sometimes opaque corridors of American espionage,” said Michael Hayden, a former Air Force general who headed the agency from 2006 until 2009 under a Republican White House.
A CIA chief under a Democratically held White House, Michael Morell, who was deputy or acting director on several occasions from 2011 to 2013, called Haspel “simply exceptional” and someone who “appreciates the work of all CIA officers – analysts, scientists and support specialists – as much as she appreciates operations officers.”
Morale at the agency took a beating during the presidential campaign, and following President Donald Trump’s election. Trump repeatedly accused intelligence directors of leaking to the media allegations of Russian influence in his campaign, declaring the allegations “fake news” and referring to “intelligence” always in quotes.