The day after it was announced that the interim head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service had been passed over for the full time position because of her connections to the agency's controversial interrogation program, her successor was reportedly outed on Twitter by former Washington Post assistant editor John Dinges and then confirmed by veteran intelligence reporter Jeff Stein. According to Dinges, the new head of the program will be Francis “Frank” Archibald, a former station chief in Latin America.
Archibald — who is still undercover — is, according to the Washington Post's description of the person who took the job, a "57-year-old longtime officer who served tours in Pakistan and Africa." As Jeff Stein, a former reporter at the Washington Post and Salon.com, reports, Archibald was likely chosen because there's “not a whiff of scandal in his background. The Associated Press notes he reportedly ran the covert operation that removed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from power, an operation which is “regarded inside the CIA as a blueprint for running a successful peaceful covert action.”
According to the Washington Post and the Associated Press, the woman – who is also undercover but is identified by Stein as “Gina” — who held the position in an interim basis for the past two months before Archibald's appointment played an “extensive role” in an interrogation program that relied on torture.
From the Washington Post:
She had run a secret prison in Thailand where two detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh techniques. She later helped order the destruction of videotapes of those interrogation sessions.
After running the “black site” in Thailand, the female officer returned to headquarters for a senior job at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Former colleagues said she lobbied for several years to have the videotapes taken in Thailand destroyed.
From the AP:
The officer briefly ran a secret CIA prison where accused terrorists Abu Zubayada and Abd al-Nashiri were waterboarded in 2002, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials. She was also a senior manager in the Counterterrorism Center helping run operations in the war on terror.
She also served as chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez and helped carry out his order that the CIA destroy its waterboarding videos. That order prompted a lengthy Justice Department investigation that ended without charges.
Stein also points out that CIA Director John Brennan and two members of his selection advisory panel, Stephen Kappes and former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, who were in charge of the decision to pass over “Gina,” were themselves involved with similarly controversial interrogation and rendition programs.
Brennan was the deputy executive director at the CIA when the controversial programs began. Kappes, according to a CIA source Stein spoke with in 2009, "helped tailor the agency's paper trail regarding the death of a detainee at a secret CIA interrogation facility in Afghanistan, known internally as the Salt Pit." And McLaughlin, who was deputy director of the CIA during much of the time waterboarding took place, told TIME in 2011 that the program "wasn't set out to torture people. It was never conceived of as a torture program."
The CIA denies that “Gina's” former role with the interrogation program played a part in the decision.
“The assertion she was not chosen because of her affiliation with the CT mission is absolutely not true,” said CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood, using an abbreviation for counterterrorism.
Youngblood described the new head of the spy service as a “talented and effective intelligence officer” who “is known for his collaborative and inclusive leadership style.” She noted that women will fill two other senior CIA jobs.
According to the Associated Press, the identities of both agents are "widely known in intelligence, diplomatic and journalistic circles."
[And Magazine/Image of Getty]
To contact the author of this post, email firstname.lastname@example.org