For years when I visited the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, I would see a sign hanging at the entrance that read “Today is September 12, 2001.” The agency’s determination to stamp out terrorism was never stronger than that day, and to the patriots who served at the CIA, this sign served as a constant reminder of their mission to protect American lives from additional attacks on our homeland. Gina Haspel was one of those patriots.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Haspel walked over to the Counterterrorism Center and volunteered for duty. In the following years, she held many leadership positions at the CIA, some requiring tough decisions. But Haspel performed with integrity and honor, as is clear by her distinguished list of supporters from her peers in the intelligence community – both Republicans and Democrats - and from her wide support within the CIA.
I have known Haspel for 10 years and had the opportunity to visit her in the field and see her work firsthand. In those times, I always found her to be open, forthcoming and truthful. In classified and unclassified conversations, she has more than satisfied any questions I had about her background, career and qualifications to lead the CIA.
Her transparency and dedication to the agency has earned her much-deserved bipartisan support in Congress. Many of my Democrat colleagues in the Senate recognize the merits of her nomination and will support her.
Support for Ms. Haspel extends beyond our nation’s borders. Our foreign intelligence partners have expressed their respect for, and confidence in, Ms. Haspel, which is critically important for cooperation, information sharing and other vital national security work.
The threats we face as a nation have changed since Sept. 11, 2001. If anything, the world is more complex now as terrorism has taken root in new spots around the globe, nation state adversaries have emerged and new technologies have made the spread of radical ideologies easier than ever.
In these times, the president and his administration need the intelligence community, and particularly the CIA, to speak the truth. Officers must be forward leaning in operations and bold in their analysis. After 33 years in the intelligence business, Ms. Haspel knows it is critical to have trust between the president and his intelligence services and she will work to ensure the unique historical relationship between the CIA and the president continues under her leadership.
I thank Haspel for her dedication to the protection and security of the United States and our interests around the world. When duty calls, she has consistently stood up and given her best for more than three decades and for that she has earned my vote for confirmation. The country does not know much about the CIA’s activities, by necessity, of course, but we all owe them a debt of gratitude for their work. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I routinely hear about threats that could cause me to lose sleep at night. With Ms. Haspel at the helm of the CIA, I am confident I will sleep better at night.
Risch is a member of the Intelligence Committee.