From Mother Teresa to Counterterrorism: CIA Unveils More on Gina Haspel
By Bryon Tau and Nancy A. Youssef
The Wall Street Journal
May 1, 2018
In a long career with the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel has held senior positions around the world supervising covert action, managing U.S. spies’ collection of human intelligence and working on counterterrorism efforts, according to biographical summary of her career declassified by the agency on Tuesday.
Ms. Haspel, who is President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next director of the CIA, held key roles in the agency’s post-Soviet European operations and international posts in more than 30 short-term assignments, the CIA said. She started with the agency 33 years ago in Africa as a young case officer.
The newly declassified CIA timeline of Ms. Haspel’s career shows she worked as a case officer in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Africa and Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ms. Haspel become an intelligence-operations officer and then rose up the ranks in the agency’s Russia operations. Already partially fluent in Spanish and French, Ms. Haspel also learned Turkish and Russian while serving at the agency.
During Ms. Haspel’s career, she had an unexpected encounter with Mother Teresa. In the late 1980s, during her first overseas assignment, Ms. Haspel was working weekend duty when the legendary nun and missionary sought to speak to President Ronald Reagan about wheat shortages in a country that remains classified. Ms. Haspel invited her in, and the State Department arranged the phone call, leading Mother Teresa to invite Ms. Haspel to the local orphanage, people familiar with Haspel’s career said. The children also visited the U.S. embassy.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Haspel four times served as chief of station—the top CIA official in a country responsible for all the agency’s operations there. Three of those postings were in Europe or Central Asia, and one location remains classified.
In recent years, Ms. Haspel served in several top roles in the division of the CIA responsible for covert options, clandestine operations and the collection of on-the-ground intelligence. She also was the deputy chief of the National Resources Division, a CIA office charged with gathering intelligence from U.S. residents about their travels abroad and recruiting foreign visitors to become intelligence assets when they return home.
In 2001, Ms. Haspel was transferred to counterterrorism as the agency mounted a massive response to the Sept 11 attacks in New York and Washington. According to the CIA summary of her career, Ms. Haspel was deputy group chief of the Counterterrorism Center and then a senior-level supervisor there between 2001 and 2004.