World

New CIA deputy chief ran 'black site' prison

WASHINGTON: A veteran CIA clandestine service officer who ran one of the agency's "black site" prisons set up after the 9/11 attacks was named deputy director of the US spy agency by US President Donald Trump yesterday.

Ms Gina Haspel, who will serve under new Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, was the first woman spy to reach the CIA's second-highest position. Her selection won applause inside the agency's Virginia headquarters and from many long-time US intelligence professionals.

However, Ms Haspel once ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand where two suspected Al-Qaeda members were waterboarded, intelligence and congressional officials said on condition of anonymity.

She helped carry out an order to destroy videotapes of the waterboarding, which simulates drowning and is considered a form of torture, they said.

Her promotion, combined with the possibility that Mr Trump could seek to reopen black site prisons and has endorsed waterboarding, may be controversial. This despite the fact that Mr Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis have rejected so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques".

A draft executive order requesting a review of whether the US should reopen CIA prisons in other countries and revisit other interrogation methods which are not considered torture has been circulating within the White House.

However, it is not clear if it will be issued, and if it is, whether any nation will agree to host such facilities again, the officials said.

"I appreciate Ms Haspel's many years of service at the CIA, yet I want some reassurance from her that she intends to comply with both the spirit and the letter of the law, like director Pompeo testified that he would during his confirmation process," said Democrat Mark Warner, vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. - REUTERS

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