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Iran Press TV

Woman that ran CIA's torture ops picked as its clandestine service chief

Iran Press TV

Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:13AM GMT

The new head of the US spy agency has appointed a woman involved in running the CIA's detention and torture program and destroying videotapes of the interrogation sessions as the chief of its clandestine service.

The woman, the first female to head CIA's clandestine service in the agency's history, is reportedly a veteran spy that 'remains undercover and cannot be named,' and has gotten the top job on an acting basis, pending a permanent replacement, The Washington Post reports on Wednesday.

The report, however, suggests that CIA Director John Brennan wants her to remain on the job, but to avoid further controversy over his deep involvement in the spy agency's notorious detention and interrogation of foreign-based terror suspects during the previous Bush administration and the targeted killing campaign during the Obama administration, he has appointed a panel of three top CIA officials to help him select a permanent pick to head the clandestine service.

'The director of the clandestine service has never been picked that way,' said a former senior US intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity, the report adds.

The move has raised speculation that Brennan might be after a political cover for a decision made harder by the 're-emergence' of the interrogation and torture controversy and the acting chief's ties to the campaign.

The ex-official further said that Brennan 'is obviously hesitating' at making the chief permanent.

The other candidates being considered for the post, according to the report, include a former CIA station chief in Pakistan and the director of the spy agency's Counterterrorism Center.

However, neither one is identified in the report because they remain undercover.

The daily describes the woman picked by Brennan as the acting chief of the clandestine service as a 'veteran officer with broad support inside the agency,' who is in her 50's, mastered several languages, and has served in several overseas assignments, including in Moscow.

It further states that she 'helped run' CIA's detention and interrogation campaign after the 9/11 incidents in 2001, when she became a senior authority at the agency's counterterrorism center.

Moreover, she also 'signed off on the 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of prisoners being subjected to treatment critics have called torture.'

According to the report, the CIA set up a video camera at 'its secret prison in Thailand' shortly after it opened following the 9/11 incidents. The spy agency then recorded over 90 tapes of 'often-brutal interrogations, footage that became increasingly worrisome to officials as the legal basis for the program began to crumble.'

In 2004, when the head of the Counterterrorism Center, Jose Rodriguez, was appointed as the chief of the agency's clandestine service, 'he took the female officer along as his chief of staff.' The two then 'repeatedly sought permission to have the tapes destroyed but were denied,' until, eventually, instructions to 'get rid of the recordings went out anyway.'

The daily cites former officials as noting that the order (to destroy the tapes) 'carried just two names: Rodriguez and his chief of staff.'

The Justice Department has twice investigated the tapes' destruction and brought no charges against anyone at the CIA.

The female officer went on to hold senior positions in CIA sites in London and New York before returning to the spy agency's headquarters as deputy chief of the clandestine service. She became acting director on February 28, when the previous head of the service, John Bennett, retired.

The service is responsible for sending spies foreign lands and conducting covert operations, 'including running the agency's ongoing drone campaign.'


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