WASHINGTON: The CIA has declassified more information about Gina Haspel, US President Donald Trump's pick to lead the spy agency, including her key postings and her encounter with Mother Teresa during which she helped the nobel laureate get food aid to a region facing shortages.
Haspel, 61, is currently serving as the Acting Director of the CIA after Mike Pompeo became the secretary of state. If conformed by the Senate, Haspel would be the first female head of the top spy agency of the US.
She is facing tough questions from US lawmakers on her stance on torture ahead of her confirmation hearing for the post of CIA Director. Haspel began her career at CIA on January 6, 1985 as an officer in the Directorate of Operations.
From that moment until she was named Deputy Director of the CIA in 2017, her entire CIA career was classified. The CIA this week declassified a summary of her assignments.
This does not cover more than 30 short-term, temporary duty assignments over the course of her career. After her nomination, Haspel has been criticised for using torture during her career at CIA.
But those familiar with her career at CIA, that spans more than three decades refer to the encounter that she had with Mother Teresa and how she won over her heart during one of her overseas postings.
One fine weekend in late 1980s, when Haspel was on duty, Mother Teresa walked into the embassy.
The time line of her postings released by the CIA indicate that she was posted in Africa at that time.
"She was on weekend duty at the Embassy. And Mother Teresa arrived. She wanted to give a call to (the then US) President (Ronald) Regan to have wheat delivered to that country," an individual familiar with Haspel's career in CIA told PTI.
The name of the country and the location of the embassy remains classified, but the declassified timeline of her career released by the CIA this week says that it was somewhere in Africa.
Haspel acted quickly on the request of Mother Teresa. She worked with State Department to arrange for the phone call and also helped in the delivery of wheat.
"Later on, Mother Teresa invited Haspel to visit the orphanage. The US embassy also invited children from the orphanage," people familiar with her career said. Haspel had some fluency in Spanish and French prior to joining CIA. As a CIA officer she learned Turkish and Russian. She also received extensive training as an operations officer. She is scheduled to appear before Senate Intelligence Committee for her confirmation hearing on May 9.
Exactly a week before she appears for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the White engaged in sudden bout of advocacy, issuing a flurry of testimonials and holding a press briefing in support of her candidacy, the CBS news said.
The White House also highlighted portions of a story about Haspel published in The Wall Street Journal, whose headline read, "From Mother Teresa to Counterterrorism".