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Who is Gina Haspel? Trump says he has named first woman CIA director

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Here's what we know about Gina Haspel, who could become the first female CIA director. (CIA|Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)

On Tuesday President Donald Trump announced that Gina Haspel would become the next director of the CIA after current director, Mike Pompeo, becomes secretary of state in place of Rex Tillerson.

Trump said that Haspel, who must first be confirmed by the Senate, will become the first woman in the position.

Though her confirmation as director of the agency would be historic, it does not come without controversy. Here's what we know about her.

History with the CIA
Haspel began her career with the Central Intelligence Agency in 1985 and has extensive experience abroad. She has held several top positions and is well-regarded within the agency, according to ABC News.

Confirmation hearings, though, will likely focus on her involvement with secret CIA "black sites" where suspected al Qaeda terrorists were detained overseas.

She briefly oversaw the CIA prison in Thailand where "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used on senior al Qaeda operatives Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Raham al-Nashiri. These techniques included waterboarding, according to Senate Intelligence Committee's report.

There is also the matter of Haspel's role in the destruction of CIA waterboarding tapes. According to the Associated Press, Haspel helped carry out an order to destroy the tapes. After a Justice Department investigation, there were no charges for Haspel.

Human rights groups have spoken out against the president's pick.

"No one who had a hand in torturing individuals deserves to ever hold public office again, let alone lead an agency," Human Rights First's Raha Wala said Tuesday. "To allow someone who had a direct hand in this illegal, immoral and counterproductive program is to willingly forget our nation's dark history with torture."

Haspel has been given several awards during her career, according to her CIA biography. They include the Presidential Rank Award, the most prestigious award in the federal civil service. She also received the George H. W. Bush Award for excellence in counterterrorism, the Donovan Award and the Intelligence Medal of Merit.

Trump administration
Haspel was sworn in as deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency less than a month into Trump's presidency on Feb. 7, 2017.

Trump gave a statement about Haspel on Tuesday morning to reporters.

"Gina ... who I've worked very closely [with], will be director of CIA," he said. "She's an outstanding person who I've gotten to know very well. I've gotten to know a lot of people very well over the last year. I'm really at a point where I'm close to having the cabinet and other things that I want."

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.

Related Topics:
politicsRex Tillersondonald trumpCIAu.s. & worldnationaltrendingPresident Donald Trump