Cleared: Memo Slams Fake News About First Woman Nominated to Head CIA

Gina Haspel
CIA/AFP/Getty Images

After weeks of negative media reports and political animus over Gina Haspel’s alleged participation in the destruction of videos showing interrogation of terror suspects, the first woman to be nominated to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been vindicated by the agency President Donald Trump wants her to lead.

The CIA released an eight-page memorandum from then-CIA deputy director Mike Morell to the Senate Intelligence Committee that said Haspel was not responsible for the 2005 destruction of “detainee interrogation videotapes.”

The memo addresses the actions taken by Haspel and her boss, then-director of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service (NSC), Jose Rodriguez.

The memo states, in part:

I have found no fault with the performance of Ms. Haspel. I have concluded that she acted appropriately in her role as Mr. Rodriguez’s chief of staff, including in her efforts to press for and facilitate a resolution of the matter, as well as in her drafting of the cable that authorized the destruction of the tapes.

She drafted the cable on the direct orders of Mr. Rodriguez; she did not release that cable. It was not her decision to destroy the tapes; it was Mr. Rodriguez’s.

In addition, Ms. Haspel claims that she believed — incorrectly, as it turned out — that Mr. Rodriguez was going to obtain approval from then-Director Porter Goss before releasing the cable and that she took action after the release of the cable to ascertain from Mr. Rodriguez whether he had obtained approval.

Although there is no “good soldier” defense in the case of an act that violates the law or agency regulations, the Special Prosecutor evidently found no prosecutable offense, nor did I find a violation of agency regulations.

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reported on the memo and the Democrats who oppose her nomination, claiming they do not know enough about what she has done during her 30-year intelligence career:

In the run-up to her May 9 confirmation hearing, lawmakers are pressing the CIA to declassify even more about Haspel’s three-decade career. She was chief of base of a secret prison in Thailand where terror suspects were brutally interrogated, but little else is publicly known about her work with the program.

Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-OR), accused the CIA of trying to shroud her background. Wyden, Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona have all sent multiple letters to the CIA requesting more detail.

“The more we review the classified facts, the more disturbed we are — both by the actions she has taken during her career and by the CIA’s failure to allow the public the opportunity to consider them,” the Democrats wrote.

But Haspel also has many impressive supporters, including six former directors of the CIA — Goss, John Brennan, Leon Panetta, George Tenet, William Webster and Mike Hayden — and three former national intelligence directors — James Clapper, Mike McConnell, and John Negroponte.

Breitbart News reported last month on some of the fake news spread about Haspel and the admission that it was, indeed, fake news:

The left-wing “investigative journalism” site ProPublica, a non-profit funded in part by far-left billionaire George Soros, was forced to walk back an attack piece aimed at Gina Haspel, President Trump’s pick to lead the CIA.

In late February, ProPublica accused Haspel, a career CIA staffer, of overseeing a CIA “black site” in Thailand in 2002 where terrorist Abu Zubaydah “was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture.”

Worse still, this fake news included the smear that Haspel “mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation.”

ProPublica now states, “Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.”

For the last year, Haspel has been serving the Trump administration as deputy director of the CIA.

“After thirty years as an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, it has been my honor to serve as its Deputy Director alongside Mike Pompeo for the past year,” Haspel said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for the opportunity, and humbled by his confidence in me, to be nominated to be the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

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