America needs Gina Haspel to lead the CIA

By Michael Hayden,
from The Hill,

There was a lot of talk early in the Trump administration about the so-called “axis of adults,” that group of tested professionals surrounding the president who would guide and, from time to time, limit an inexperienced and impulsive commander in chief.

Pompeo will be replaced at the CIA by Gina Haspel, a highly-regarded, three-decade agency professional, but the long knives are already out because of her role in CIA’s counterterrorism program. The agency director’s position must be confirmed by the Senate, and confirmation looks like it will be contentious. It shouldn’t be. Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well. No one should read anything into her current nomination other than, as they say in the NFL, she is the “best athlete available in the draft,” an assessment supported by CIA veterans of the past two decades. When she was selected to be deputy director last year, I wrote that her choice signaled that the agency intended to neither repeat nor repudiate its past. That still holds. The president has already indicated that he is not yet done with his personnel changes.

So to my newfound friends to the left of the American political centerline, think twice before you oppose Haspel as director for her imagined past sins. She loves the agency, and she will work to preserve it. No matter what happens in the short term, can we not all agree that we will need it for the long term? And with regard to that truth-to-power thing in a White House expecting Navarro-like loyalty, Haspel is someone you want to be in the room when big decisions are made.

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