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Etched into the wall of the main lobby at the CIA is a Bible verse: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32
I watched the well-covered grilling by Congress of Gina Haspel for CIA Director but struggled to find headlines when she was confirmed as the first woman to lead the CIA. The media gave it barely a token of coverage. I winced as some members of Congress zeroed in on her regarding the interrogation of suspects involved in 9/11. Ms. Haspel repeatedly stated that while she was chief of the Thailand site where enhanced interrogation of three 9/11 suspects occurred, her role was that she ordered tapes destroyed that were leaked to the press, showing the identities of undercover officers that she wanted to protect. Any interrogation methods were approved by the president. A written documentation remained for the record.
Where was their memory? They say the masterminds behind the attack, where thousands lost their lives that day, and during which Democrat Bill Clinton was president, took five years to implement. George W. Bush had barely been in office eight months, after a hotly contested election where the transition period was deliberately made difficult. Back up….
In the book The Art of Intelligence, Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service by Henry A. Crumpton, the CIA asked him to organize and lead the Afghanistan campaign. Prior to 9/11, he said the CIA had been grossly defunded and politicized to the point of reducing actual intelligence officers around the world to a bare minimum. Past thinking was “the cold war was over,” and it wasn’t needed. This direction, and the haste to rectify after, realizing the need once again of real intelligence gathering, always comes from the highest level — the president. He said we were woefully behind the eight ball after the attack and had little time to come up to speed. Mr. Crumpton was tasked with helping to rebuild the intelligence community, both foreign and domestic, and quickly. He agreed that complacency across the world for the prior fifteen years allowed evil to gain a foothold. His book illustrated the point that there is no replacement for human resources, direct human contact for penetrating evil at its source. Therein lies the sacrifice of service.
The Book of Honor by Washington Post journalist Ted Gup begins with the dedication “To the sons and daughters of the CIA’s stars, named and unnamed alike, and in memory of my father, who told me the only thing a man may hope to leave behind is a good name.” The book begins with a star among stars on the wall, the story of Douglas Seymour Mackiernan, who led a mission against communism in the 1940s. This first chapter is so incredible, the mission, the conditions, the stamina, his courage, and legacy, that I wept after reading it. He was one officer among many. There are pictures and details for each story, rare in this business, of the families and sacrifice that few know or are ever acknowledged.
Ms. Haskel joined the CIA at 28 years old. She has served our country for almost 35 years so far, including during one of the saddest moments our country has ever known, stationed in some of the darkest regions of the world, Ethiopia, Thailand, parts of Eurasia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Yet her many accomplishments and personal sacrifices made little difference to women who champion women, who push for the glass ceiling’s removal.
More than 50 former senior U.S. government officials, including six former Directors of the CIA and three former directors of national intelligence, signed a letter supporting her nomination. They included former Directors of the CIA John Brennan, Leon Panetta and Michael Morell, former Director of the NSA and CIA Michael Hayden, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Haspel has received a number of awards, including the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award, the Intelligence Medal of Merit, and the Presidential Rank Award.
An outstanding résumé.
Some members of Congress, who also serve on the Foreign Intelligence Committee, stated some of the reports that are reviewed keep them awake at night, but knowing that she would be in charge, they would sleep better. How many bosses say that to a prospective candidate? I also remembered Ms. Haskel stating during her hearings that just last year, seven more stars were added to the wall — in one year. Just reading the story of one person behind one star was difficult. Evil never takes a vacation — neither do the boots on the ground in the intelligence community. Imagine her job.
She was tapped by President Trump to lead the CIA, the first woman in its 70-year history to hold this position, not because she is a woman, but because she was voted the best qualified for the job. She accepted the role with no accolades or cheering from the feminist bandstand. Another glass ceiling removed, but I guess she wasn’t holding the right banner. How does glass shatter and no one hears it?
I still don’t know her political persuasion and that’s fine — it wasn’t discussed. She stated her loyalty is to the United States and to the Constitution, to protect and defend. The Bible verse/motto to reveal the truth so freedom can triumph, to become invisible to find the hidden that seeks to harm before it can, is the mission. She’ll pass the stars on the wall each day, as they grow in number, and quietly continue to lead the fight for freedom from behind the scenes.
Congratulations to CIA Director Gina Haspel, and thank you for your lifelong dedication to our country.Published in