The Current

Is 'Bloody' Gina Haspel the right choice to lead the CIA?

The nomination of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA is creating controversy over her involvement running the agency's torture and waterboarding program. Should this disqualify her for a promotion?
U.S. President Donald Trump has been touting the qualifications of his pick to head up the Central Intelligence Agency, Gina Haspel, but others in Washington have raised concerns over her CIA career. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The confirmation hearing of Gina Haspel, U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the CIA, was interrupted yesterday by protesters shouting "Prosecute the torturers!" and "Bloody Gina."

As a key figure in the CIA's so-called detention and interrogation program, Haspel ordered and oversaw the torture and waterboarding of detainees. That period has driven the controversy surrounding her nomination, but it's also where she earned her nickname, according to John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer turned whistleblower.

"There are a lot of women in the CIA's senior intelligence service who would be marvellous CIA directors. Gina Haspel's actions in 2002 in my view disqualify her," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, disagreed. He listed Haspel's intelligence, professionalism and "wonderful record" as some of the reasons why Haspel would the right person to lead the CIA.

"I know a lot of people want to relitigate the past but mostly I think Gina is the right choice because of the present and the future," he said.

Listen to the full conversation near the top of this page.

This segment was produced by The Current's John Chipman and Julie Crysler.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.