RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election. Who will run Biden’s CIA? [UPDATE — David Cohen returns as CIA deputy director]

“A couple of people at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would have to go, absolutely. Probably Gina Haspel would have to go, too. Gina is a good woman, but she would have to go.”

Michael HaydenFormer CIA and NSA Director General

OCTOBER 26 2020 — According to rumors, CIA Director Gina Haspel (64) intends to step down and  retire after the 2020 US election. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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“I’m honored to be asked by President-elect Biden to return to @CIA, and I’m thrilled at the chance to serve with Bill Burns as his Deputy Director. It’s great to be back with the women and men of the Agency, and I can’t wait to get to work.”

David S. Cohen — Twitter (Jan. 16 2021)

UPDATE (January 16 2021) — David S. Cohen, who served as the No. 2 at the CIA from 2015 to 2017 in the Obama administration, is returning to his old job.

This is a rather unusual choice considering that William Burns has no formal experience in the intelligence field and Cohen has only a short and very limited experience of the Agency.

Traditionally, one of the people in those jobs has long experience at the CIA.

On January 11 2021, Cohen tweeted the following message: “Congratulations to my friend Bill Burns on his nomination to be Director of the CIA. Bill has the perfect mix of experience, expertise, and wisdom to lead the great women and men of CIA. He will be a terrific Director.”

Before joining the CIA, Cohen — also known as “Financial Batman” — served in the Treasury Department as the undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

Cohen is regarded as the architect of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

END of UPDATE

“The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director.”

President-elect Joe Biden

UPDATE (January 11 2021) — President-elect Joe Biden will nominate William Burns as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Burns — a veteran American diplomat — is certainly an interesting choice. If confirmed, Burns would become the first leader in the CIA’s history whose lifelong experience comes from the State Department.

“Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure,” Biden said.

“He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.”

Last year, I quoted (see below) Melvin A. Goodman — Former CIA analyst and author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA — after he made the case for this unusual selection in a blog post.

PS — Burns is an expert on the “Iran nuclear deal.” He worked closely with the Obama Administration on this project. I expect that this matter will be one of the first priorities of the Biden’s presidency. 

END of UPDATE

“It’s gotten pretty quiet on the wire out there about who might be under consideration.”

Larry Pfeiffer (Chief of staff to former CIA Dir. Michael Hayden) — Jan. 8 2021

UPDATE (January 9 2021) — President-elect Joe Biden is staffing up his National Security Council and State Department with a slate of Obama-era officials.

On Friday (January 8 2021), Biden unveiled a list of 21 persons to lead the National Security Council.

Surprisingly, there is still no news about Biden’s pick to run the CIA.

On November 18 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he would nominate Mike Pompeo to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Pompeo’s confirmation hearing was held on January 12 2017. Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate on January 23, 2017, with a vote of 66–32, and sworn in later that day.

END of UPDATE

“Morell has disingenuously said that he was unaware of the CIA’s torture program at the same time that he was the Agency’s fourth-ranking officer. As deputy CIA Director and Acting CIA Director, he oversaw illegal activities around the world. I can’t believe that any sane person could or would consider Mike Morell as a serious candidate for CIA Director.”

Former CIA John Kiriakou

UPDATE (December 24 2020) — Credible sources are reporting that Mike Morell has withdrawn his name from consideration to become director of the CIA under the incoming Biden administration.

Biden’s goal was to have all of his remaining Cabinet selections announced by Christmas.

With Morell out of the race, David Cohen — deputy director of the CIA under President Barack Obama — and Darrell Blocker — deputy director of the agency’s counter-terrorism center and led the CIA’s training facility — are top candidates.

“Mike Morell, is facing increasingly complicated prospects as his potential nomination faces growing opposition.” CNN (Dec 3 2020)

UPDATE (December 10 2020) — Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, publicly accused Mike Morell of being a “torture apologist”.

Other Senate Democrats, including Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Pat Leahy of Vermont, have also privately expressed concerns to Biden’s team about Morell’s record on torture.

With Morell’s prospects falling, the Biden transition team is considering several other individuals for the important role of CIA director, including David Cohen, another former deputy CIA director under Obama.

Others in the mix include Vincent Stewart, a former leader of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Marine general; Jeh Johnson, former secretary of Homeland Security under Obama who is also being considered for Defense secretary; former Obama senior adviser Lisa Monaco; and Sue Gordon, the former principal deputy director of national intelligence under President Donald Trump who spent decades at the CIA.

Biden is also believed to be considering former CIA station chief Darrell Blocker.

Perhaps Morell finally lost all credibility when his spokesman, Nick Shapiro, said that the former Deputy CIA Director and former acting CIA Director only learned about the techniques being used four years after they went into effect.

Who would want a CIA director who has no clues about what goes on at the agency?

PS — As I read the quote from Morell to Vice News (2015), I wonder if he knows what happened to those who used a similar line of defense at the Nuremberg trials?

“I don’t like calling it torture for one simple reason. Because to call it torture says my guys were torturers, right, and they were told that they weren’t. They were told that what they were doing was legal. And I’m gonna defend my guys ‘til my last breath.”

Mike Morell –Vice News 2015 interview

Another key senator on the nomination could be Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chaired the Intelligence Committee when it fought the Obama administration in 2014 to release a partially redacted summary of its report on the CIA’s use of torture, which harshly criticized the Bush-era CIA program. 

“Well…this is the most absurd inquiry I’ve ever addressed, but I’m happy to tell you that Director Haspel is alive and well and at the office.”

CIA spokesperson Nicole de Haay

UPDATE (December 5 2020) — Over the last few days, I noticed something rather unusual. People were searching my blog for information regarding the arrest or death of CIA Director Gina Haspel.

It seems that the ‘reports of her death have been greatly exaggerated’… The claims that Haspel was arrested and injured in a CIA raid or that she was found dead are false.

According to the Reuters Fact Check team, there is no evidence to show CIA Director Gina Haspel was arrested or injured in a CIA raid in Germany.

CIA spokesperson Nicole de Haay has confirmed that Haspel was alive and working at the office as usual….

“My major concern is that the Biden team is looking at a tired list of possible choices as CIA director, which includes former acting director Michael Morell.  Morell, like many CIA ‘luminaries,’ such as John Brennan and John McLaughlin, has never accepted the CIA’s role in brutalizing terror suspects and has criticized the Senate intelligence committee’s authoritative study of torture and abuse as ‘deeply flawed.’  All of them have whitewashed the CIA’s role. There will always be great tension between secrecy and democracy, and Biden will do great harm if he appoints a director who is more interested in keeping secrets from Americans than in keeping secrets to protect Americans.”

Melvin A. Goodman — Former CIA analyst and author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA

UPDATE (November 26 2020) — Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon — a member of the Intelligence Committee who will ultimately vote on whether any nominee for the job is confirmed — has warned President-elect Joe Biden that he should avoid nominating Mike Morell, because his record as a “torture apologist” makes confirmation a “nonstarter.”

“No torture apologist can be confirmed as CIA director. It’s a nonstarter,” Wyden told CNN.

Wyden made clear that he would vote against Morell’s confirmation due to his public remarks on the issue of torture and resistance to congressional oversight.

Flashback…

On April 20 2018, the CIA declassified a memo, written in 2011 by then-Deputy Director Mike Morell, about the destruction of 92 videotapes of “enhanced interrogations” at the agency’s prison in Thailand.

Gina Haspel — the current CIA Director — played a central role in that affair.

RELATED POST: One Year Ago — Gina Haspel Thailand Cables Declassified [CIA & Torture]

Mike Morell wrote:

“I have found no fault with the performance of Ms. Haspel. I have concluded that she acted appropriately (…)”

The memo confirms that Haspel drafted the cable authorizing destruction which specified using an “industrial-strength shredder to do the deed” to leave “nothing to chance.”

PS — Interviewed by CNN, former CIA Director John Brennan already offered his expert opinion…

“He would be well advised to not make such charges against patriots like Michael Morell… Ron Wyden knows not of what he speaks.”

Stay tuned!

UPDATE (November 20 2020) — One way or another, Haspel appears to be on the way out. So, the question is: Who will run the CIA for Biden?

On this day four years ago, Trump had already made his choice. On November 17 2016, Mike Pompeo was chosen to replace John Brennan.

RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo — Who Is Who in World Intelligence and Security Agencies?

So far, we do not know who Biden will pick to replace Gina Haspel. According to RUMINT, the following people are being considered for this extremely important position.

Michael Morell — former acting CIA director

Tom Donilon — former Obama national security adviser and close Biden confidant

Chris Inglis — former Deputy NSA Director

Robert Cardillo — former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Sue Gordon — career CIA officer who has spent nearly four decades working in intelligence

Lisa Monaco — onetime chief counter-terrorism and homeland security advisor to Obama

Avril Haines — the first woman to serve as deputy director of the CIA

The mere fact that Mike Morell is being considered for the job is mind-boggling. Let us hope this is just a stupid rumor… Then again the worst is never certain.

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“If Mr. Morell is the best the CIA has to offer, the agency should be replaced with a subscription to The New York Times at a savings of approximately $15 billion annually.”

Bruce Fein — US Constitutional Lawyer

END of UPDATE

According to anonymous sources, CIA Director Haspel is “despised and distrusted almost universally” within the US president’s inner circle. If re-elected, Trump plans to replace Haspel as well as the FBI Director Chris Wray. 

Behind the scenes: “The view of Haspel in the West Wing is that she still sees her job as manipulating people and outcomes, the way she must have when she was working assets in the field,” one source with direct knowledge of the internal conversations told Axios. “It’s bred a lot of suspicion of her motives.”

Trump is also increasingly frustrated with Haspel for opposing the declassification of documents that would help the Justice Department’s Durham report.

A source familiar with conversations at the CIA says, “Since the beginning of DNI’s push to declassify documents, and how strongly she feels about protecting sources connected to those materials, there have been rumblings around the agency that the director plans to depart the CIA regardless of who wins the election.”

Gina Haspel Career TIMELINE

1956 October 1 — Gina Haspel was born in Ashland, Kentucky, the oldest of five children. Her father served in the Air Force, having joined at 17, and she grew up on military bases overseas.

— After graduating from high school in England, Gina Haspel returned home to attend the University of Kentucky, where she studied languages and majored in journalism.

—  she moved to Louisville her senior year for an internship and graduated with honors from the University of Louisville.

— After college, Gina Haspel worked as a contractor with the 10th Special Forces Group at Ft. Devens in Massachusetts. She ran the library and foreign language lab.

1985 -1987  — Haspel joins the CIA as a “Career Trainee” in the Directorate of Operations

“I wrote a letter to the CIA on my manual college typewriter. I mailed it to CIA with my résumé. I didn’t have an address. So I just put: CIA. Washington, D.C. And here I am.”

DCIA Gina HaspelAuburn University (April 18 2018)

1987 -1989 —  First overseas assignment as a case officer in  Addis Abeba (Ethiopia). CIA station was then run by Waldimir Skotzko.

1989 -1990 — Language training. Haspel had some fluency in Spanish and French prior to joining CIA. As a CIA officer she learned Turkish and Russian.

1990  (August) – 1993 –Second Secretary at the US Embassy in Ankara, Turkey (Case Officer Tour, field assignment, Europe Division)

1993 – 1994 — Intelligence Operations Officer, Russian Operations Group, Central Eurasia Division

1994 – 1995 — Chief of an Intelligence Branch, Central Eurasia Division

1995 – 1996 Language and other training

1996 –1998 — Chief of Station, Central Eurasia Division. Reportedly deputy station chief in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1998. Haspel is credited for an operation that led to the arrest of two terrorists linked to the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

1998 – 2000 — Deputy Group Chief, Russian Operations, Central Eurasia Division

1999 — Executive assistant to James Pavitt, Director of Clandestine Operations (DDO)

2000 – 2001 — Deputy Chief of Station, Europe Division

2001 -2003  — Deputy Group Chief, CTC. (In the wake of 9/11) Haspel joins the Counter-Terrorism Center at the request of José Rodriguez.

2002 — Between October and December 2002, Haspel was assigned to oversee a secret CIA prison in Thailand, code-named Cat’s Eye, that housed persons suspected of involvement in Al-Qaeda. The prison was part of the U.S. government’s extraordinary rendition program after the September 11 attacks, and used enhanced interrogation techniques such as waterboarding that are considered by many to be torture. According to a former senior CIA official, Haspel arrived as Station Chief after the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, but was chief during the waterboarding of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

2003 – 2004 — Senior-level Supervisor, Counterterrorism Center (“CTC”). Haspel heads the CIA «Renditions and Interrogations Group» inside the Counter-Terrorism Center — “Chief of Base” of a clandestine CIA detention site on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station

2004 – 2005 Deputy Chief, National Resources Division.

2005 – 2008 — Chief of Staff, Directorate of Operations

2005 — Haspel was the chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, Director of the National Clandestine Service. In his memoir, Rodriguez wrote that Haspel had drafted a cable in 2005 ordering the destruction of dozens of videotapes made at the black site in Thailand in response to mounting public scrutiny of the program. (“Haspel was the chief of staff when I (Robert Richer is a former associate deputy director of operations for the CIA) was the No. 2 person in the agency’s clandestine service in 2004 and 2005.”)

2005 October 31 —   CIA General Counsel John Rizzo raised concerns that a congressional proposal for an independent commission to investigate detainee abuse “would serve to surface the tapes’ existence,” and suggested trying to get permission from the CIA director to destroy them.

2005 November 4 — After the Washington Post broke the ‘CIA Thailand black site’ story, Thaksin issued heated denials and briefly threatened to sue the newspaper, according to a leaked State Department cable.

2005 November 9 — Jose Rodriguez writes: “The field (CIA station in Thailand?) sent in a cable reporting that the shredder had done its work.

2005 November 10 — CIA email appears to refer to Haspel’s role in the tapes destruction

2008 – 2011 — Chief of Station, Europe Division. Haspel serves as the CIA’s Station Chief in London. Prestigious position traditionally held by very senior CIA officers. (Vaughn Bishop from 2007 to 2009, and later by Timothy Buch until Haspel.)

2011 – 2013 — Haspel serves as the CIA’s Station Chief in New York

2011 – 2012 — Chief of Station, Classified Location (CIA Timeline)

2012 – 2012 — DDNCS for Foreign Intelligence and Covert Action (CIA Timeline)

2012 – 2014 Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service (“DDNCS”) (CIA Timeline)

2013 — (February 28, 2013 – May 7, 2013) John Brennan, then the director of Central Intelligence, named Haspel as acting Director of the National Clandestine Service, which carries out covert operations around the globe. However, she was not appointed to the position permanently due to criticism about her involvement in the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program. Her permanent appointment was opposed by Dianne Feinstein and others in the Senate. Francis Archibald — Former COS in Malaysia and Pakistan — is picked to run the NCS.

2013 – 2017 — Haspel is back in London as Chief of Station

2017 February 8 — Haspel is named Deputy Director of CIA

2018 March 13 — Gina Haspel named by Trump to be CIA director, replacing Mike Pompeo, who will replace Tillerson at State

2018 May 9 — Haspel is scheduled to appear for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee

2018 May 16 — The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee votes 10-5 in favour of  Gina Haspel as the new director of the CIA

2018 May 17 — The US Senate votes (54-45) in favor of Trump’s nominee. Gina Haspel — 61-year-old veteran of the agency’s clandestine services — will be the first woman to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

2018 May 21— Gina Haspel is sworn in as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former CIA chief, attend the ceremony.

2018 September 24 — CIA Director Gina Haspel gave a speech at her Alma Mater — the University of Louisville

2018 October 20 —  The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society presented DCIA Haspel with the William J. Donovan Award

2018 October 22 — Haspel travels to Turkey to discuss the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kaggoshi

2019 January 29 — During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Haspel reported that the CIA was “pleased” with the Trump administration’s March 2018 expulsion of 61 Russian diplomats following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. [Duckgate]

2019 April 18 — CIA Director Gina Haspel visits Auburn University in Alabama, where she delivered remarks and participated in a Q&A moderated by retired Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, Auburn’s chief operating officer and former DIA director.

2020 February 4 — CIA’s Haspel applauds during Trump’s State of the Union speech. 

2020 June 29 — D/CIA Statement on Impact of Unauthorized Disclosures on Force Protection

2020 September — CIA Director Gina Haspel is reportedly keeping a tight lock on Russian intelligence. Nine current and former officials tell Politico that Haspel “has become extremely cautious about which, if any, Russia-related intelligence products make their way to President Donald Trump’s desk.” She has also reportedly been cracking down on the agency’s “Russia House,” which produces intelligence on the country — but exactly why she’s doing so is up for debate.

2020 October — According to anonymous sources, Haspel does not believe that Russia is responsible for the attacks against US diplomats in Cuba. [Havana Syndrome]

2020 October — According to anonymous sources, Haspel plans to step down after the US election.

The Tip of the Spear: From Virginia Hall to Gina Haspel 

On Saturday October 20 2018, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Society presented DCIA Gina Haspel with the William J. Donovan Award in recognition of her service to the United States of America. For the occasion, the OSS Society has posted a very interesting short documentary: “The Tip of the Spear: From Virginia Hall to Gina Haspel”

The purpose of the award is to recognize someone who has exemplified the distinguishing features that characterized General Donovan’s lifetime of public service to the United States as a citizen and soldier.

Director Haspel is only the second woman and ninth CIA Director to be bestowed with this honor. In its introduction of Director Haspel, the OSS Society showed a film that honored the impact and influence of women in the OSS, who paved the way for Director Haspel to lead the CIA.

In her acceptance speech, the Director highlighted the achievements of America’s intelligence officers, including US efforts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the operation to track down Usama bin Ladin.

In accepting the Donovan Award, the Director acknowledged and thanked the men and women of the CIA who came before her and those who serve today. [CIA website]

This is a very short biopic of Gina Haspel (After an interesting introduction, the part regarding Haspel starts at the 7:20 mark.)

REFERENCES

DCIA Haspel Presented with the 2018 William J. Donovan Award — CIA Website

A Look Back … Gen. William J. Donovan Heads Office of Strategic Services — CIA Website

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DCIA — Gina Haspel Presented with the 2018 William J. Donovan Award [Biography]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election [Biography]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election [Who will run Biden’s CIA?]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election. Who will run Biden’s CIA? [UPDATE — Key Democrat warns Biden not to nominate Mike Morell]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election. Who will run Biden’s CIA? [UPDATE — Mike Morell quits]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election. Who will run Biden’s CIA? [UPDATE — “It’s gotten pretty quiet”]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election. Who will run Biden’s CIA? [UPDATE — Biden to nominate William Burns]

RUMINT — DCIA Gina Haspel to Step Down After Election. Who will run Biden’s CIA? [UPDATE — David Cohen returns as CIA deputy director]

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