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CIA officer tied to interrogations denied full post

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By The Washington Post
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — A CIA officer who was the first woman to lead the agency's clandestine service but was closely tied to the agency's interrogation program will not get to keep that job as part of a management shake-up announced on Tuesday by CIA Director John Brennan.

The woman had served as director of the National Clandestine Service on an interim basis during the past two months. Many in the agency considered her a front-runner to keep the post, which involves overseeing the CIA's spying operations worldwide.

The woman, who remains undercover, faced opposition from senior lawmakers because of her ties to an interrogation program. Critics said the program has used torture to get information from al-Qaida captives after the 9/11 attacks.

Brennan has given the job, instead, to a 57-year-old veteran male officer. He served multiple overseas tours in Pakistan, Latin America and Africa, according to public records. He is also undercover, federal officials said.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity be-cause the appointment has not been announced publicly.

The move marks the resolution of a decision that had become a dilemma for Brennan, who faced a bruising confirmation fight over his own ties to the interrogation program. He took the unusual step of forming a panel of retired CIA officers to evaluate candidates for the clandestine service position.

The female officer, who is in her 50s, had broad support within the agency and previously served as deputy director of the clandestine service. Her background, though, posed significant political problems for Brennan.

She ran one of the so-called “black site” secret prisons that the CIA set up after the 9/11 attacks. She was one of just two officials who signed off on the controversial decision to destroy a collection of videotapes — some of which depicted detainees subjected to brutal interrogation measures. Among the techniques was a simulated drowning method known as waterboarding.

It is unclear whether the female officer will be moved into a new position. The transition occurs at a time when the agency is assembling what it calls a defiant response to a recently completed report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is sharply critical of the interrogation program and its results.

Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had called Brennan to express concern over the possibility that someone so closely linked to the program would be put in position to lead the agency's spying service.

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