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Haspel: CIA 'a National Treasure,' Will 'Forge Ahead with Determination'

Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel at CIA Headquarters on May 21, 2018, in Langley, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

McLEAN, Va. — New CIA Director Gina Haspel quipped at her swearing-in this morning that “it has been nearly 50 years since an operations officer rose up through the ranks to become the director, and after the experience of the last two months, I think I know why that is.”

Haspel, who was confirmed by the Senate 54-45 after concerns about her history with enhanced interrogation running a CIA black site, said she’s “truly honored to have this opportunity to lead the best workforce in government.”

The career CIA officer took the oath to defend the United States against against all enemies, foreign and domestic, from Vice President Mike Pence.

“CIA has been more than a career. It has been for me, like many of you, a calling. In this building and around the world today, there are officers carrying out a vital mission, sometimes at great personal risk. I want each of you to know that I took on the position of director because I want to represent you, as well as lead you,” Haspel said. “My years at CIA have rewarded me in ways that I could never have imagined, and I will continue to give it and you my all.”

“…I would be remiss if I did not also note the tremendous pride I take in being the first woman to serve as director. I would not be standing before you today if not for the remarkable courage and dedication displayed by generations of OSS and agency women, in roles both large and small, who challenged stereotypes, broke down barriers and opened doors for the rest of us. I am deeply indebted to them, and I am extremely proud to follow in their footsteps, and to carry on their extraordinary legacy. I stand on the shoulders of heroines who never sought public acclaim, but served as inspirations to the generations that came after them.”

The new director told the agency that “we cannot rest on our laurels — we must learn from the past, but we cannot dwell in the past.”

“We must constantly learn, adjust, improve and strive to be better. We demand it of ourselves and America deserves nothing less,” she said.

“That includes boosting our foreign language proficiency, strengthening our partnerships overseas and here at home, and deploying more of our officers to the foreign field. We are a foreign intelligence service and our workforce and our priorities need to reflect that,” she added. “We also need greater focus and effort on the strategic threats our nation faces, as well as the persistent threat from global terrorism.”

Haspel called the CIA workforce “a national treasure” that needs to be empowered with the best support from leaders.

“The only way to confront these threats is to forge ahead with determination and with the same expeditionary spirit that has defined our agency since its founding more than 70 years ago,” she said.

President Trump told Haspel at the ceremony that “there is no one in this country better qualified for this extraordinary office than you.”

“By the way, if you don’t agree with that, please let me know now before it’s too late, OK?” he added. “Immediately. Have to do it quickly.”