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US Central Intelligence Agency appoints hard-liner Michael D’Andrea as new spying chief for Iran: Report

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. (Photo by AFP)
The US Central Intelligence Agency has appointed Michael D’Andrea as its new Iran operations chief, a man who previously oversaw the hunt for former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The CIA refuses to acknowledge the move but former and current agency officials have confirmed it, The New York Times reported Friday.
D’Andrea, who is around 60 years old, was directly responsible for the secret operation on May 2, 2011 to take out bin Laden at his residence in Abbottabad, northern Pakistan.
He is also known for leading the US military’s global drone program, which has killed thousands of people, especially in Muslim-majority countries.
The move further signals US President Donald Trump’s willingness to take a “hard line” with Iran, a pledge he made during his campaign run.
D’Andrea’s appointment also underscores the CIA’s tendency to take a more aggressive approach to espionage and covert operations under the leadership of Mike Pompeo, according to The Times.
“He can run a very aggressive program, but very smartly,” Robert Eatinger, a former CIA lawyer who also played a role in the drone campaign, told the daily.
The CIA refused to discuss the matter, noting that it never reveals the identity of its agents and clandestine officials.
The change of position bears special significance for the CIA since D’Andrea will be required to follow Trump and his official’s lead with regards to Iran, a country the new American head of state has recently referred to as “the number one terror state.”
Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo (Photo by AFP)
Additionally, Trump is a fierce opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers—the US, the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany—and has called it one of the worst deals in history.
During the campaign, he promised to shred the deal after winning the race but has so far refused to do so upon advice from the intelligence community.
Trump’s national security adviser, General H. R. McMaster, who was a commander during the early years of Iraq War, is wary of Iran’s influence in the region.
Pompeo himself is yet another critic of the deal and has made it clear that he would keep a close look to make sure Iran does not breach it.
This is while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed Iran’s commitment to the accord.

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