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Trump to appoint career intelligence analyst as CIA deputy director

President Trump will appoint Vaughn F. Bishop, a career intelligence analyst who spent three decades and held a variety of senior positions at the CIA, to serve as deputy to director Gina Haspel. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

Bishop's appointment comes more than two months after Haspel own protracted confirmation battle. She took the agency's helm in May as its first-ever female director, and as the first operations officer to hold the role in almost 50 years. 

The CIA said Bishop's analytic expertise would serve as a complement to Haspel's background in operations, most of which was spent in the clandestine service.

In a statement, Bishop called the appointment "the opportunity of a lifetime."

"I have tremendous respect for the men and women of the Agency, and I look forward to serving alongside them in pursuit of CIA's vital mission," he said.

Haspel said Bishop was "a superb choice," and that she was confident he would "help empower every Agency officer to advance CIA's mission in concrete and measurable ways."

Officials familiar with Bishop's background said his longtime and varied service within the agency had afforded him a deep understanding of its analytic processes, but that he had also gained a first-hand understanding of the agency's operations side over the course of his career. That combination of experiences made him well-equipped to understand the demands of both of the agency's worlds, whose functions can often be siloed and whose priorities occasionally conflict.

Bishop first joined the CIA in 1981, after he answered a newspaper advertisement seeking candidates with expertise in analysis and political science. He was working at the time as an assistant professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the early 1990s, Bishop led the Somalia Task Force as clan war and famine ravaged the country. From 1996 to 1999, he served as Chief of Station in a location that the agency, in its announcement, left undisclosed, and managed a key relationship with a U.S. partner focused on counterterrorism operations. (A White House announcement about Bishop's appointment indicated he was Chief of Station after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but an intelligence official familiar with Bishop's background said Bishop served in the role prior to 2001.)

Bishop subsequently worked as former director George Tenet's representative to the United States Pacific Command and led the agency's analytic efforts on Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Africa, according to CIA.  He served as National Intelligence Officer for Africa before becoming Vice-Chair of the National Intelligence Council in 2010 and, one year later, retiring from the agency in 2011. He returned to work for four years as the CIA's Ombudsman for Analytic Objectivity during its years-long modernization effort.  

Bishop is married, a father of two, and a grandfather. The CIA described him as an "avid golfer" who obtained three degrees from Northwestern University between 1968 and 1974 – a bachelor's and a master's degree in political science and a doctorate in political science and African studies.  

News of Bishop's appointment was favorably received by many in the intelligence community.

In a statement, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats called the selection of Bishop "outstanding," and said his career accomplishments were "well-known."

"It is a pleasure to welcome him back into government service after his retirement in 2011," Coats said.

"Vaughn Bishop will be a good partner for Director Haspel in leading the talented men and women of CIA," said CBS News national security contributor Michael Morell, who served twice as CIA's acting director and as its deputy director from 2010 to 2013. "Selecting a career professional with an analytic background, including one who served as CIA's Ombudsman, is a strong signal about the importance that Director Haspel attaches to analytic independence, a CIA hallmark," Morell said.

Other former intelligence officers weighed in on social media. On Twitter, former analyst and daily intelligence briefer during the Clinton and Bush administrations David Priess called Bishop "the real deal," and a "refreshing, promising choice." Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and National Security Council spokesman said Bishop was "brilliant, dedicated, and principled."

John Sipher, who spent nearly three decades in the agency's clandestine service, said the choice of a CIA insider was particularly important. "In this time of hyper-partisanship, tribalism and post-fact politics, I think it's a good sign that CIA is in the hands of career professionals," he said. "A Trump outsider could be a disaster. CIA needs to be above domestic politics."

One former senior intelligence official took issue with the fact that Bishop was not a currently serving agency employee, noting that three out of the last four deputy directors were not chosen from within active ranks. "That does not send a great signal to the women and men currently working at the agency," the official said.

Though Haspel herself was well-received by intelligence community ranks, she has maintained an especially low profile since being sworn in. Her counterparts in the intelligence and law enforcement community have, meanwhile, more gamely assumed the risks of speaking publicly, and at times in defense of intelligence community employees and their work products.

At the agency, Haspel has surrounded herself with associates she has long known and often overlapped with, choosing as her chief of staff lawyer Dan Richard, who worked for years in the agency's office of general counsel and with Haspel directly while she was station chief in New York. 

Haspel's and Bishop's respective professional paths have also crossed, and they worked together very closely on one assignment late in their careers, according to a former intelligence official.

Bishop is expected to be sworn in within the coming weeks.