CIA appoints new spy chief, bypasses woman who ran secret jails

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CIA Director John O. Brennan has selected a new head for the agency’s spy service, passing over the acting director, a woman considered by many as tainted through her leadership of the agency’s abandoned program for detaining and interrogating suspect terrorists.

The National Clandestine Service recruits foreign agents to spy for the United States and carry out covert operations abroad.

Both the new head and the acting head of the service are serving undercover, and the CIA is not releasing their names, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Citing unnamed officials, the paper said the acting head “was at the center” of the CIA’s highly controversial detention and interrogation program, which employed techniques such as waterboarding that the Red Cross has labeled as torture. She briefly headed the agency’s secret “back site” prison in Thailand.

She also played a central role in the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogations, the paper said, a decision deplored by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In a statement Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and committee chairman, said she was “supportive” of Mr. Brennan’s choice to replace the service’s acting head.

The CIA denied to Bloomberg News that the choice had anything to do with the woman’s association with the detention program.

“The assertion that she was not chosen because of her affiliation with the [counterterrorism] mission is absolutely not true,” agency spokeswoman Maria Escalante told Bloomberg.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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