CIA Director Gina Haspel is addressing her alma mater, the University of Louisville. You can watch the livestream of Haspel’s talk here.
Haspel said today that “fundamentally, the United States is safe” because of the extraordinary resources available to the US intelligence communities. She said that when she joined the CIA three decades ago, the main threat to America came from the USSR. Today, she said, we have to be “more nimble,” and we have to able to face “a diverse range of threats,” from Iran to Isis and al-Qaeda.
On a lighter note, Haspel said she is a “big fan” of Scandinavian police procedurals and the spy novels of John LeCarre. She also talked about her great love of Kentucky bourbon.
Haspel Has Been Questioned About Her Views of in the CIA’s Controversial Interrogation Tactics
Haspel, who was sworn in as CIA director on May 21, is the first woman ever to head the agency. But Haspel has faced intense questioning about her views on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation” tactics, which many say amounted to torture.
Haspel is a career CIA staffer who has worked with the agency for three decades. She was part of the agency during the Bush administration, when the CIA used controversial techniques like “waterboarding” as part of its interrogation of some terror suspects. Haspel faced intense questioning about those “enhanced interrogation” techniques during her confirmation hearing. Haspel said that she would not restart those interrogation techniques when she became the head of the CIA.
During her hearing, Haspel said, “I don’t believe that torture works” but that “we got valuable information from debriefing Al Qaeda detainees.” She also said, “We all believed in our work. We were all committed.”