Have never shied away from speaking truth to power says Biden's spymaster pick

Lalit K Jha
·4-min read

Washington, Nov 25 (PTI) Avril Danica Haines, who has been nominated by United States President-elect Joe Biden as his top spymaster, said that she will not shy away from speaking truth to power.

“Mr President-elect, you know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power, and that will be my charge as Director of National Intelligence,” Haines, 51, said on Tuesday soon after she was nominated as director of national intelligence, in which capacity she would serve as head of the 17-member US intelligence community, including the CIA and FBI.

Haines is the first woman to be nominated for this position. “As Director of National Intelligence, I nominate Avril Haines, the first woman in this post. To lead our intelligence community, I did not pick a politician or a political figure. I picked a professional,” Biden said.

“She is eminently qualified: Former Deputy Director of the CIA. Former Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. A fierce advocate for telling the truth and levelling it with decision makers. I know because I’ve worked with her for over a decade. Brilliant. Humble,” he said.

“Can talk literature and theoretical physics, fixing cars, flying planes, and running a bookstore cafe, in a single conversation — because she’s done all of that. Above all, if she gets word of a threat coming to our shores — like another pandemic or foreign interference in our elections — she will not stop raising the alarms until the right people take action,” Biden said.

“People will be able to take her word, because she always calls it like she sees it. We are safer with Avril on the watch,” said the president-elect.

Haines said that she has been selected to work on behalf of the American people — to help advance security, prosperity, and values. “That, the call to service in this role, is what makes this nomination such a tremendous honour. If afforded the opportunity to do so, I will never forget that my role on this team is unique,” she said.

“Rather than that of a policy advisor, I will represent to you, Congress, and the American public, the patriots who comprise our intelligence community,” Haines said.

“We have worked together for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise — that you value the perspective of the intelligence community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult. I assure you there will be those times,” she said.

In a message to the intelligence professionals, she said the work they do oftentimes under the most austere conditions imaginable is indispensable.

“It will become even more complex because you will be critical to helping this administration position itself not only against threats such as cyber-attacks, terrorism, and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons but also those challenges that will define the next generation — from climate change, to pandemics, and corruption,” Haines said.

Haines has worked with President-elect Biden in various roles for more than a decade, and will become the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence.

During the Obama administration, Haines served as Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from 2015-2017, during which time she led the National Security Council’s (NSC) Deputies Committee. From 2013-2015, Haines was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); she was the first woman to hold both of these positions.

She began her service in the Obama administration in 2010 as the NSC Legal Advisor. From 2007-2008, Haines served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while President-elect Biden served as chairman.

Haines has led the Biden transition’s national security and foreign policy team since its founding in June 2020. Prior to that time, she served in various roles including Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University; a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; and a member of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.

Haines received her bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. PTI LKJ HDA