In January, when CIA Director Gina Haspel and other intelligence officials testified before the congress that Iran was not trying to build nuclear weapons, President Trump mocked his spy chiefs as "extremely passive and naive" and suggested that they "return " School.
But when Trump and his associates publicly advocated a military strike on Iran last month, which Trump later denied, the president trumpeted intelligence services, including video footage of Iranian forces landing mines on oil tankers and rocket moving around the Persian Gulf as part of preparations to attack US personnel.
Trump's embrace of the agencies he despised met with current and former officials as consistent with his treatment of US intelligence 2 1
Reel, who has spent her 34-year career at the CIA almost hidden, now stands as a stronghold between Trump and the intelligence community. This week, National Co-director Daniel Coats, who had been the public face of American espionage, announced his resignation and concluded a turbulent term that often conflicted with the President, both publicly and privately. To replace Coats, the President announced he would appoint MP John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), A three-time Congressman and prominent Trump supporter, lacking significant national security experience.
Trump's relationship with the CIA and her colleagues is uniquely volatile: he has questioned the accuracy of the intelligence services in relation to Russia, suggesting he would put an end to the secret operations against North Korea and even accuse his own spies of spying on him. It is not the position that Reel has envisioned for himself, that absorbs the fulminations of a president who mocked US intelligence even before he took office, people who have known her for years said. But so far she is successful.
The key to their success? Stay unobtrusive.
Haspel frequently visited Coats and a senior intelligence officer at the Oval Office to organize the president's intelligence briefings, which have little to do with the intense dives of urgent questions from past presidents. According to officials familiar with the briefings, Haspel and the company confine themselves to a few key points that, in their opinion, Trump must know. Trump prefers pictures and graphics over text. And Reel makes sure not to contradict the president or to argue with him about his opinion.
Unlike her predecessor, today's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Haspel spends much of her time at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, running the agency daily and representing her in the White House rather than cultivating a person Relationship with Trump. This has won their points with career workers who were relieved that Trump chose one of their own and no other politician when Pompeo set out to a more prominent position in the State Department.
This report is based on interviews with 26 current and former officials who have worked with Reel in the United States, in particular when she held senior leadership positions in London, and in London, where Reel has been touring as the CIA's top representative – Chef of the station – a plum post that is usually the springboard to the highest ranks of the agency. Some asked for anonymity to speak openly or discuss sensitive operations and to avoid friction between Reel and the President.
Reel, who refused to be interviewed for this profile, told a reporter unlike most of the former CIA directors who were known to meet informally with journalists to discuss world events with them, never given an active interview that they were not quoted directly.
As a director, she has made few public speeches. One, when honored at a gala dinner in Washington in front of a ballroom with several hundred guests for her life's work, was classified as confidential by the organizer of the event, the OSS Society, which preserves the agency's historic legacy -era predecessor , the Office of Strategic Services.
Haspel also made public statements at two universities, including the University of Louisville, her alma mater, but she made brief, anodyne speeches about her overall priorities at the CIA and did not receive any questions from journalists present. (She answered written questions from students at the second event at Auburn University.)
Reel can act as wood. She speaks monotonously, but off the stage she is demonstrably calm and shows dry wit.
Haspel has concluded that answering questions she would likely conflict with Trump – in relation to Iran, North Korea, Russia, and more – has no utility and refuses her fateful role in the infamous To repeat the investigation and interrogation program of the CIA. Haspel was instrumental in destroying nearly 100 interrogation videos, including waterboarding in a secret facility in Thailand that she once oversaw. Her decision later threatened to derail her confirmation to run the CIA.
After becoming director in May 2018, Haspel confided to a colleague that an interview with a reporter would only have two consequences: "bad and terrible".
But it's also not in Haspel's way or education to seek the limelight, said people who knew her and worked with her. As a secret officer, her professional success depended on secrecy. She spent her first years recruiting spies in foreign capitals. She served four times abroad as a station manager. Throughout her career, she helped direct the CIA's global fight against Al Qaeda.
Of the 18 bodies the CIA has publicly acknowledged that Reel held, only two were open: director and deputy director, No. 2, which she held for a year before Trump nominated her to lead the agency ,
"She has two key qualities that you need for this job – judgment and discretion," said John McLaughlin, a former deputy CIA director.
And the co-workers of Haspel said she was smart to keep her head down.
"Your first responsibility as a director is protecting your organization," said a former senior intelligence officer. "With a normal president, the director has a tremendous opportunity to be public, to talk about what the agency is doing, and to deal transparently with the American people. However, this is not a normal president. "
" Honorary UK Desk Officer "
Haspel's instinct to engage in her work equates to her three decades with the agency, according to current and former officials.
" She is relieved of ego and self-promotion, "she said Michael Sulick, who led the CIA's National Clandestine Service, now the Operations Directorate, where Haspel spent most of her career.
Several colleagues at Haspel uninvitedly noted their lack of ego, which they warned, not with a lack of ambition and Confidence
"I went to her office and there was a big poster of Johnny Cash" – Reel is a lifelong fan – "but I did not see any photos of himself," said Henry "Hank" Crumpton, who hired Reel as his deputy when he headed the CIA's National Resources Department, which collects information in the United States by talking to people who have traveled overseas.  "She understands who she is and she takes her ego out of her decision-making," he said. "It's pretty unusual in the CIA."
It's also unusual for someone with reel references to become CIA director. The job rarely goes to career officers, and presidents often tap on members of Congress or long-time political actors, especially those who consider them allies. Haspel's appointment was unprecedented in two ways: she is the first secret career officer to rise to the top, and the first woman.
"She was very focused. Disciplined. People told me, "They will not make friends with her," said a former British intelligence officer who worked closely with Reel as she served in London.
"She was not all right, but she was mainly in the business," another former British intelligence official said, "Reel is not the type to go to the pub with colleagues," he said. "Gina was not a beer drinker."
But what she lacked in socializing after hours could make up for her by a deep professional commitment to the upper tier of the British security company. "She had access to anyone in our service," said the former British intelligence officer.
Es It is rare for an officer to serve twice as ward manager in the same location, especially in a much-sought-after post as London.Haspel is the hub of the CIA for the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), its main foreign partner she knows her so well – warts and so on – that she called her the "honorary officer of the United Kingdom."
This tie has hasp l helped stabilize the transatlantic alliance that attacked Trump in speeches and tweets. In addition to threatening to leave NATO, Trump has accused the UK of conspiring with US intelligence to spy on his presidential campaign.
These accusations have shaken the British Government at the highest level. The United States and the United Kingdom share more information with each other than with any other nation. And they are party to what officials describe as an inviolable agreement, not to spy on each other, or three other important English-speaking allies – Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Fox News expert Andrew Napolitano's claim in 2017 that three intelligence sources had told him that the Obama administration had used the British electronic wiretapping agency Government Communications Headquarters to spy on Trump and "Americans" to avoid fingerprints. "GCHQ took the extraordinary step of making a public statement stating that the allegations were" extremely ridiculous and should be ignored.
The British wanted to alert the White House that they would not accept such allegations, but Trump repeated them, most recently in April, just days after the President's visit to the United Kingdom had been announced.
The relationship continued to be weighed down this month when Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, after the expiration of diplomatic cables in which he regarded Trump as "unsafe" and his administration as "incapable" and "dysfunctional" designated, resigned. Trump called Darroch, a professional diplomat admired by high-ranking government officials and White House officials, a "pompous fool."
Reel, however, has earned the trust of the British.
"We are hard-core operators like the Americans," said the former British official. "The people who score the most with us are honest and honest and can access us in Washington."
While Haspel served in London, Americans gave us information to stop terrorist attacks that killed the British People have, "he continued. "They knew from talking to her that what she cared about most was the protection of the US, and the second thing that interested them most was the protection of the British."
Haspel had been on her second tour in London when she was appealed to Pompeo's deputy. She had five days to pack up and return to Washington, a British official who knows her said.
A Friend in Langley
When it became known that Haspel would be Deputy Director, there was relief in Washington and London. Many saw them as a welcome buffer not only against Trump, but possibly also against Pompeo. The Kansas congressman had no intelligence and was best known for his tough opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal and his tenure at the House Select Committee in Benghazi Clinton personally for the 2012 attacks on a US diplomatic camp in Libya.
American and British officials fear that Trump has sent Pompeo, a political loyalist, to punish the agency for what he saw as a "state effort" to undermine him during the campaign.
But Haspel quickly established a working relationship with Pompeo that matched both priorities and shielded most of the CIA, current and former officials said. While Pompeo maintained his relationship with the President – he often spent parts of his day at the White House and provided daily information -, Haspel effectively directed the CIA. She was constantly present in the corridors of Langley, providing a kind of reassurance to the staff, many of whom were astonished when Trump, in his first speech as President, stood in front of a sacred wall, honoring and rewarding the CIA officers killed in service the crowd at his inauguration.
Pompeo also earned the recognition of several long-time colleagues from Haspel in the Operations Directorate, the former senior US intelligence official said. "He did not need much" Mother, may I? "For operations." Pompeo told career officers that he trusted them to do their job and promised to support their efforts.
But others accused Pompeo of acting more as a political ally of the president, the former senior official said, especially as he hinted that Iran was failing to comply with an international agreement to stop developing nuclear weapons.
"When Pompeo left the house and spoke publicly, he did everything he could to make room between himself and the presidents, even to the point of saying things that did not agree with what the CIA believed "said the former senior official.
When Reel said in January that Iran was abiding by the regulations, this signaled to the authorities that they would tell the truth to the authorities, current and former officials said.
In early July, Iran announced that it had exceeded its limits, as it had threatened to do after it retreated from the agreement last year.
When Trump summoned Pompeo as Secretary of State, he questioned his ally about the best person to replace him. For Pompeo, reel was the obvious choice, people said with knowledge of his recommendation.
For many intelligence officers, Haspel promised to return to the basics.
"I think the biggest fear in Trump's election was that the agency will be used in a political way," said a former US intelligence official who worked like Haspel on operations and overseas. "Gina understands, we do not run politics, we advise."
However, Reel has been involved in political decisions and has drawn a thin line between counsel and intercession.
In March of last year, the United States together with nearly two Dozens of countries more than 100 Russian spies and diplomats in response to the poisoning of a former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei Skripal, in the English town of Salisbury expelled a spy for the British.
British and American officials had collaborated and attacked Russian activists
British intelligence officials were devastated by the attack on one of their agents on British soil and were furious that the Russians had spread the deadly substance indiscriminately, at least four others were poisoned infested; one person
In talks with Trump and other high-ranking government officials, Haspel told the President that Moscow would issue a "strong" response to the attack on the US government if it expelled a large number of Russians from the US United States officials trusted the closest allies.
Your prediction was based on experience. Haspel had worked in the Russia House of the CIA, the Operations Center against the Soviet Union. She also speaks Russian and is an expert in the craft of Moscow.
Haspel did not tell the President to act decisively, but their use of the word seemed to have affected Trump, officials said. Eventually, the president ejected 60 Russians, the largest displacement in US history, and the reaction made it clear that the Americans were with Britain.
"I do not think their decision to join the British on Skripal was a function of a certain Anglophilia," the former British official said. "It was a calculation."
Last fall, Haspel was once again at the center of an international crisis when Saudi Arabian agents killed columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and dismembered the Washington Post.
Haspel flew to Ankara and listened to an audio recording of the murder from a Turkish listening device, the Post reported. In November, the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had probably ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
Trump quickly publicly denounced the findings of the CIA, and some CIA officials, in the eyes of those familiar with the matter, were furious with the President's defense of the Saudi leader.
Haspel informed legislators in a closed session. She never had problems with the president or tried to correct his statements, officials said. According to her, then-chairwoman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Described the briefing as the "clearest" message he had heard in the Senate for 12 years. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said there was no doubt that Muhammad was responsible, and called on the government to change its policy towards Saudi Arabia by giving up support for the Saudi Arabian war in Yemen against Iran-backed fighters CIA has taken steps to sharpen its public profile and drive recruitment. The agency has set up an Instagram account to educate younger people in particular about their work. Haspel's original CIA badge photo was featured in the first post, along with a Turkish evil eye that came out of her office. (At the beginning of her career, Haspel learned Turkish and worked as a clerk in Ankara for three years.)
Speaking in Louisville in September, her first important address as director, Haspel said the CIA was once again the core task of collecting Information on nations that threaten US interests – with Russia, China, North Korea and Iran at the top of the list.
But current and former officials said they do not expect any major changes while Reel is in charge, and that suits very well for many of them. Their most important legacy could be to protect the agency from a mercury president who continues to use the intelligence services as a political foil.
"I think you will not see any innovation from the agency as long as Trump is president," said a former CIA analyst in contact with colleagues at headquarters. "They will hold on to what is sacred and do what they can to get through unharmed."