The Central Intelligence Agency has taken to Twitter as it makes the hard sell for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next director, to be confirmed.
The CIA account sent out 15 tweets in a thread on Friday that included details about her upbringing in Ashland, Kentucky, in a military family, her career around the world and even a new photo of Haspel — one of the few currently published online. The agency pointed out that Haspel is the first woman to “rise from the ranks” of the agency to become deputy director of CIA. Avril Haines, the first woman to hold the position, did not come from within the agency.
Although she hasn’t yet been officially nominated, as there’s no job to fill until current Director Mike Pompeo is confirmed as the next secretary of state, Trump announced Haspel as his choice via Twitter last Tuesday.
If confirmed, Haspel would become the first female director of the CIA and one of the few career intelligence officers to lift the veil and enter the public sphere after decades overseas conducting operations secretly. Therefore, the agency is responsible for working with her to publish the details it can without risking classified operations — a process others nominated for director have not had to go through in recent years.
Following Trump’s tweet, the agency has worked to quickly declassify bits and pieces about her career and personal life, passing them on to journalists, congressional overseers and, now, the public at large following the agency on social media: more than 2 million people on Twitter. Those details were largely the same as the ones delivered to Congress on Thursday, first reported by the Wall Street Journal and later CNN.
Haspel faces a tough fight to secure the nomination, with members of the Senate raising concerns over her involvement in the George W. Bush administration’s controversial CIA detention and interrogation program.
On Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a statement saying she saying she was “very wary” of Haspel.
“To promote someone so heavily involved in the torture program to the top position at the CIA, the agency responsible for one of the darkest chapters in our history, is a move that I’m very wary of,” the California Democrat said in a statement.
Feinstein’s statement struck a markedly different tone than her initial comments praising Haspel’s nomination.
Also on Friday, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, sent Haspel a letter demanding she detail her role in detainee interrogations and the destruction of the CIA tapes, as well as asking whether she was ever “in a position of authority to stop, or prevent the future employment of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.'”
Haspel is the first career CIA professional to be nominated as director in the social media age, after the agency joined Twitter and Facebook in 2014. There was no social media campaign when Pompeo was nominated, but the agency has regularly tweeted photos, videos and excerpts from conferences he has attended, television appearances he’s made and statements he’s issued.
The effort to promote Haspel via social media represents a new approach, though the agency has fervently promoted photos of its canine recruits, or “doggos,” who were heavily covered in the press last September.