The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is the official head of the U.S. government’s intelligence-gathering and covert operations agency. The Director’s responsibilities include overseeing the gathering and analyzing of foreign intelligence, managing internal functions related to the operations of the CIA, developing and executing national security policy, and providing overall management and direction of the CIA. The current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency is Gina Haspel, appointed by President Donald Trump on April 10, 2018 and confirmed by the Senate on May 17, 2018.
Rise to the Position
Prior to joining the CIA in 1985, Haspel was a career intelligence officer with over 30 years of experience in the CIA. She held a variety of positions, including serving as a deputy chief of mission for the CIA in Uzbekistan and Iraq, a senior manager at the Counterterrorism Center (CTC), and an executive assistant to then-Deputy Director for Operations of the CIA. In 2013, Haspel was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the CIA’s Deputy Director of Operations, a position she held until she was appointed Director in May of 2018.
Achievements and Accolades
Since taking the position, Haspel has received several awards and accolades, including the State Department’s Meritorious Honor Award, the National Intelligence Meritorious Unit Citation, the President’s Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence, and the George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Counterterrorism. She was also presented with the Legion of Merit in recognition of her 30 years of service to the CIA.
Current Challenges Faced By The Director
As Director of the CIA, Haspel faces many challenges: from the rising threat of terrorism and cyber threats, to the challenges of protecting America’s secrets while keeping the public informed. She must navigate the complex world of intelligence operations, navigating the challenges of working with global partners, managing budgets and resources, and fighting the challenges of bureaucratic turf wars. She also needs to ensure that the information gathered by the agency is properly analyzed and used to inform policy decisions.
Priority Areas and Goals Under Director Haspel
Since her confirmation as Director, Haspel has outlined a number of priority areas and goals. She is focused on using the latest intelligence technologies to pursue a laser-focused approach to understanding and countering the threats posed by international and domestic terrorism and cybercrime. She has also undertaken a broad effort to modernize the CIA, including working to reinforce the security of the agency’s networks and personnel through stronger cyberdefense, encryption, and operational security measures.
Advancing U.S. Security Objectives Abroad
Haspel has also taken a proactive approach to advancing U.S. security objectives abroad. She is committed to increasing international collaboration to counter the threat of terrorism, including working with key allies like the United Kingdom, France, and Germany on regional counterterrorism initiatives. She is also focused on expanding the use of U.S. intelligence assets to gain insight into regional conflicts and emerging threats.
Prioritizing Human Rights, Transparency and Accountability
Under the helm of Director Haspel, the CIA remains committed to respecting human rights and international law, while also operating with transparency and accountability in its operations and activities. The CIA has taken measures to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties in counterterrorism operations and has undergone rigorous internal reviews to ensure its practices are compliant with applicable laws and treaties. The agency has also pledged to always operate under the supervision of the U.S. government and to provide a full accounting of its activities to Congress and the American public.
Engaging with Partners at Home and Abroad
In her short tenure as Director, Haspel has actively engaged with partners at home and abroad. She works to strengthen the CIA’s ties with other U.S. government agencies, foreign governments and intelligence services, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and industry leaders. The goal of this collaboration is to ensure the CIA has access to the best and most timely intelligence to support their objectives.
Increasing Diversity and Inclusion
Haspel has taken deliberate steps to prioritize diversity and inclusion at the CIA. She has emphasized the value of recruiting a mix of backgrounds, experiences, languages, and perspectives to ensure the agency can better understand and respond to changing global threats. In addition, she has supported efforts to ensure women, veterans, and those from under-represented backgrounds have the same opportunity for success within the Agency.
Providing Strong Leadership
In her short time as Director of the CIA, Haspel has demonstrated unwavering strength and commitment to the Agency’s mission and objectives. With her deep knowledge of the Agency’s operations and her proven track record of success, Haspel is well equipped to guide the CIA through its most difficult challenges and opportunities. She is a leader who balances risk with reward, always mindful of the need to protect America’s national security while creating a safe and inclusive working environment.
Prioritizing the Modernization of CIA Technology
Under Haspel’s leadership, the CIA is actively working to modernize its technology and infrastructure in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing global security landscape. This effort has included investment in artificial intelligence, data analytics and machine learning to enhance the Agency’s ability to collect and analyze intelligence. Furthermore, Haspel has also championed the use of secure cloud infrastructure to significantly reduce the Agency’s reliance on legacy systems and increase efficiency.
Fostering a Culture of Innovation
Haspel is dedicated to encouraging and rewarding creative thinking and experimentation in the CIA, in order to ensure that the Agency remains on the cutting edge of intelligence and has the resources to respond nimbly and effectively to changing global threats. She understands the importance of utilizing the latest tools and technology and investing in the training and development of personnel in order to maintain the Agency’s edge.
Improving Intelligence Collection and Analysis
In her efforts to improve intelligence collection and analysis at the CIA, Haspel has aimed to bring greater clarity and coherence to the Agency’s operations in the field. This includes making sure the Agency has access to the best and most timely intelligence, developing plans to counter emerging threats, and working with partners to ensure the CIA is taking full advantage of available resources.
Focusing on Security and Counterterrorism
As Director of the CIA, Haspel puts a priority on maintaining and enhancing the security of the agency and its personnel while simultaneously pursuing the goal of aggressively combating global terrorism. To this end, she works with the Department of Justice and other agencies to target and disrupt al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations. In addition, Haspel has worked to expand the CIA’s cooperation with foreign allies to counter the global terrorist threat.
Enhancing Human Resources
Haspel has also been a vocal advocate for increasing resources within the agency for the training and development of personnel. She understands the importance of strong leadership and training in order to ensure the CIA can provide the best intelligence to inform U.S. policymakers and make the best decisions for U.S. national security. She also works with the Office of Strategic Services and other international organizations to support the recruitment of talented personnel for the CIA.