Haspel jokes about rocky confirmation after swearing in

WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly sworn-in CIA Director Gina Haspel says she wants to send more officers into the field, improve foreign language proficiency among the ranks and strengthen the agency’s working relationships with intelligence agencies in partner nations.

Haspel said Monday that she was honored to be chosen to lead the agency. Her nomination was fraught with conflict because of her past role in the CIA’s harsh detention and interrogation of terror suspects after 9/11. Her supporters cited her three decades of experience at the spy agency. Her critics complained that nobody who was a part of that program should be promoted to the top job.

In remarks at CIA headquarters, Haspel said it’s been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become director. She joked that after living through the rocky nomination and confirmation process, she now knows why.

President Donald Trump praised the new CIA director, saying there was “no one in this country better qualified” for the job. Calling Haspel strong, Trump said the new director would “never back down” in defending America.

Striking a different tone from his previous visit to the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters, Trump also hailed the agency staffers, calling them the “most elite intelligence professionals on the planet.”

Trump said: “the exceptional men and women of this agency deserve exceptional leadership.”

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