In 2018 Helt triggered press commentary through her criticism of her former colleague, Gina Haspel, a central figure in the CIA torture program, after President Donald Trump picked her as his choice to head the CIA. Spencer Ackerman, writing in the Daily Beast, quoted Helt stating she had been told, as late as 2013, that some of the controversial recordings of Abu Zubaydah's torture had not been destroyed in 2005, as the CIA had maintained following their acknowledgement of making the recordings in 2008.
In 2015 Helt publicly opposed the decision of Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee, to bar Syrian refugees from trying to settle in Tennessee. Helt argued that vetting the backgrounds of refugees was sufficient to protect Tennesse from jihadist sleeper agents.
|BS||University of Nebraska at Kearney|
|MA||Iowa State University|
|PhD||University of Arizona||incomplete. Helt was working on her PhD in 2003, when she joined the CIA|
- "The Director". King University. https://www.king.edu/academics/academicresourses/institutes/king-institute-for-security-and-intelligence-studies/thedirector.aspx. Retrieved 2018-05-01. "Her research interests include democratization, the decline of US influence around the world, and Asian politics. She has a MA in Political Science from Iowa State University, and completed 30 hours of PhD coursework at the University of Arizona before being recruited by the CIA."
- Spencer Ackerman (2018-05-01). "Ex-CIA Official Says Some Torture Videotapes May Still Exist". Daily Beast. https://www.thedailybeast.com/ex-cia-official-says-some-torture-videotapes-may-still-exist. Retrieved 2018-05-01. "But the now-retired analyst, Gail Helt, said she memorialized their conversation in a notebook she kept at the time, a copy of which The Daily Beast has seen. Haspel’s nomination has compelled her to disclose what she heard, Helt said."
- Nafeesa Syeed (2018-04-19). "The CIA Is Getting a Private-Sector Makeover". Bloomberg Businessweek. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-19/pompeo-s-old-friend-bulatao-has-a-business-lesson-for-cia-spies. Retrieved 2018-05-01. "Ultimately, efficiency might not be the best match for intelligence work. There are built-in checks—whether in producing an analytical report or collecting information—that purposely slow down the process. “There are some places where efficiency should not be the goal,” Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst who is now professor and director of the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King University in Bristol, Tenn. “There needs to be some higher level of accountability than just the chief of station or a case officer who is charged with getting information. That is an incredibly risky proposition,” removing layers of oversight."
- Brandi Buchman (2018-07-03). "White House Drafts 27-Page Defense of CIA Nominee Haspel". Courthouse News (Washington, DC). https://www.courthousenews.com/white-house-drafts-27-page-defense-of-cia-nominee-haspel/. Retrieved 2018-05-03. "“If [Gina Haspel] is connected to this [torture] program, and I certainly believe she is, and these tapes exist, it’s in the public interest that we all know what the government has done and could potentially do again. That really concerns me,” Helt said Tuesday."
- Derrick Broze (2018-05-06). "White House Prepares to Defend CIA Nomination of Torture Authority Gina Haspel". Truth in Media. http://truthinmedia.com/white-house-defend-nomination-torture-gina-haspel/. Retrieved 2018-05-08. "Courthouse News noted that “the motion also included a sworn declaration from Gail Helt, who said she believes some of the tapes still exist”. Helt told Courthouse News she believes Haspel’s “confirmation would send the message to subordinates that there are no consequences for anything, raising the likelihood that this happens again. I hope senators keep that in mind as they cast their votes.”"
- Brandi Buchman (2018-07-07). "White House Defends CIA Nominee, Calling Her ‘Tough on Terror’". Courthouse News (Washington, DC). https://www.courthousenews.com/white-house-defends-cia-nominee-calling-her-tough-on-terror/. Retrieved 2018-05-08. "'My guess is she may be more concerned about her own reputation than the agency. After all, at this point, the CIA’s reputation is already tarnished when it comes to torture while she has emerged sufficiently unscathed to allow her rise to the deputy’s spot,' former CIA analyst Gail Helt told Courthouse News Monday. 'She’s the only one with something to lose here.'"
- Tiana Bohner (2015-11-16). "Reaction to Gov. Haslam's statement against Syrian refugees entering Tenn.". WCYB TV. http://wcyb.com/news/tennessee-news/reaction-to-gov-haslams-statement-against-syrian-refugees-entering-tenn-1. Retrieved 2018-05-01. "Millions of people are considered refugees in their own country of Syria. After seeing this, a professor at King University has been raising funds to send overseas. Gail Helt also worked for the CIA for more than decade before joining King."
- "Staff and Faculty". King University. http://www.king.edu/_resources/pdfs/oldfiles/academiccatalog/4.04.08_Staff_and_Faculty_Full-Time_Faculty.pdf. Retrieved 2018-05-01.