She became a spy more than three decades ago, a time when few women filled that job, and rose through the ranks holding some of the agency's most sensitive posts.
She once orchestrated a last-minute operation that captured two terrorists linked to the bombing of an embassy — earning one of the agency's highest honors, according to her official biography.
When she appears before the U.S. Senate as President Trump's nominee to run the agency, however, all that could fade in the glare of one chapter in a long career — her role after the Sept. 11 attacks, when she was stationed at a "black site" in Thailand where detainees were waterboarded.
Haspel's supporters, who include intelligence veterans from both political parties, say the full measure of her experience has perfectly prepared her to head the nation's premiere spy agency. Not only would she be the first woman to hold that job, she would be only the second director in the agency's history to have spent an entire career in its clandestine service — responsible for the difficult decisions that officers in the field face every day.