Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Trump's Central Intelligence Agency pick is career spymaster who oversaw secret prison

Rex Tillerson boards his plane to depart from Abuja on March 12 | Jonathan Ernst  AFP via Getty Images Rex Tillerson boards his plane to depart from Abuja on March 12 | Jonathan Ernst AFP via Getty Images
Kenny Thornton | 14 March, 2018, 19:50

"I think she's a particularly disastrous choice, being one of the principal actors" in the torture programme of former President George W Bush, Alberto Mora, the former general counsel for the US Navy and a senior fellow at the Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, told Al Jazeera.

Meyers began by poking fun at the way Tillerson reportedly found out that he was sacked, which was by tweet from President Trump.

In a statement issued by Trump to the Washington Post, he said the nomination of Gina Haspel was "a historic milestone".

"He had no idea that this was occurring", said Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

On Tuesday, some United States intelligence officials said reports of her alleged involvement in interrogations involving torture were false. For his honesty, the spokesman was sacked, too. For whatever reason, chemistry, whatever it is.

Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief, had a series of public rifts with the White House after being appointed a year ago.

President Donald Trump tweeted March 13, 2018, that he would nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to be the new secretary of state and that he would nominate Haspel to replace him. Tillerson canceled his entire schedule that Saturday in Ethiopia, with the State Department telling reporters he was sick.

Trump also lauded Tillerson, with whom he has long clashed with, and wished him and his family well.

Sullivan met with senior staff Tuesday and told them to "continue with the mission", according to a senior official who participated in the meeting.

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"This is insane. I might actually get my dream job", Pompeo quipped, according to two sources familiar with his comments.

"Pompeo is a strong opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, and rather than moderate the president's approach, there's concern that he will reinforce those views", said Thomas Countryman, an assistant secretary of state when the accord was signed during the Obama administration. The president mentioned differences over how to handle the Iran agreement, "so we were not really thinking the same".

The firing comes as Trump prepares for delicate talks with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said Mr Tillerson's departure was "a sudden change" but that it would not affect Seoul's cooperation with Washington on North Korean nuclear issues, Yonhap reported on Wednesday. "Rex wasn't, as you know, in this country", Trump told reporters on Tuesday.

Speculation that Tillerson would be fired grew last fall with the reports of his "moron" insult, which the secretary state never personally denied.

Haspel is widely respected in the intelligence community as a disciplined, non-political field agent who took on hardship positions and unsavory jobs.

Previously, he was the member of the US House of Representatives for Kansas's 4th congressional district (2011-17). A veteran CIA clandestine officer, Haspel is backed by many in the USA intelligence community but is regarded warily by some in Congress for her involvement in the agency's "black site" detention facilities.

"He will do a fantastic job!"

Pompeo said he was "deeply grateful" to be nominated and looked "forward to guiding the world's finest diplomatic corps" if confirmed. Trump felt no need to interview additional candidates for the Central Intelligence Agency director post after meeting with Pompeo. The firing of Tillerson also sends a message to those who second-guessed Trump's decision on North Korea that the buck stops with him.

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