Director of National Intelligence – confirmation needed

Avril Haines

by Deedra Abboud in Political
January 11, 2021 0 comments

President-elect Joe Biden announced his nomination of Avril Haines for Director of National Intelligence.

If confirmed, Haines would be the first woman to head national intelligence.

The position: Leads the intelligence community across 17 agencies and organizations and advises the president on national security issues.

Avril Danica Haines was born in Manhattan in 1969, to Adrian Rappin (née Adrienne Rappaport) and Thomas Haines.

Her mother, Adrian, a painter, developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and contracted avian tuberculosis, leading to her death when Haines was 15 years old.

Her father is a biochemist and professor emeritus at City College, who helped found the CUNY School of Medicine, where he served as the chair of the biochemistry department.

After graduating from Hunter College High School, Haines traveled to Japan for a year and enrolled in Kodokan, an elite judo institute in Tokyo.

In 1988, Haines enrolled in the University of Chicago where she studied theoretical physics. While attending the University of Chicago, Haines worked repairing car engines at a mechanic shop in Hyde Park.

In 1991 Haines took up flying lessons in New Jersey, where she met her future husband, David Davighi.

She later graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in physics in 1992.

In 1992, Haines moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and enrolled as a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University. However, later that year, Haines dropped out and with her future husband purchased at an auction a bar in Fell’s Point, Baltimore, which had been seized in a drug raid; they turned the location into an independent bookstore and café.

She named the store Adrian’s Book Cafe, after her late mother; Adrian’s realistic oil paintings filled the store. The bookstore won City Paper’s “Best Independent Bookstore” in 1997 and was known for having an unusual collection of literary offerings, local writers, erotica reading nights, and small press publications. Adrian’s hosted a number of literary readings, including erotica readings.

She served as the president of the Fell’s Point Business Association until 1998.

In 1998, she enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center, receiving her Juris Doctor in 2001.

In 2001, Haines became a legal officer at the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

In 2002, she became a law clerk for United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge Danny Julian Boggs.

From 2003 until 2006, Haines worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State, first in the Office of Treaty Affairs and then in the Office of Political Military Affairs.

From 2007 until 2008, Haines worked for the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Majority Senate Democrats.

Haines worked for the State Department as the assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs from 2008 to 2010.

In 2010, Haines was appointed to serve in the office of the White House Counsel as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs at the White House.

In 2013, Haines was nominated as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The erotica readings at her book store in the 90s became a media focus, but the office of the deputy director is not subject to Senate confirmation, and Haines subsequently taking office on August 9, 2013.

Haines was the first woman to ever hold the office of the deputy director of the CIA.

In 2015 Haines, then Deputy Director of the CIA, was tasked with determining whether CIA personnel should be disciplined for hacking computers of Senate staffers authoring the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture. Haines chose not to discipline them, overruling the CIA Inspector General.

After serving as Deputy Director of the CIA, Haines was tapped as Deputy National Security Advisor (DNSA), the first woman to hold that position.

During her years as DNSA, Haines worked closely with John Brennan in determining administration policy on extra-judicial “targeted killings” by drones.

Newsweek reported Haines was sometimes called in the middle of the night to evaluate whether a suspected terrorist could be “lawfully incinerated” by a drone strike.

The ACLU strongly criticized the Obama policy on drone killings as failing to meet international human rights norms. Haines was instrumental in establishing the legal framework and policy guidelines for the drone strikes, which targeted suspected terrorists in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan, but also resulted, according to human rights groups, in killing innocent civilians. An editor for In These Times said the policy guidelines “made targeted killings all over the world a normal part of US policy.”

After leaving the White House, Haines was appointed to multiple posts at Columbia University. She is a senior research scholar and deputy director for the Columbia World Projects, a program designed to bring to bear academic scholarship on some of the most basic and fundamental challenges the world is facing, and was designated the program’s next director. Haines is also a fellow at the Human Rights Institute and National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School.

Haines has been a member of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.

She is also a distinguished fellow at the Institute for Security Policy and Law, Syracuse University.

Haines has consulted for Palantir Technologies, a data mining firm accused of assisting the Trump administration with immigrant detention programs, and was an employee of WestExec Advisors, a consulting firm with a secretive client list that includes high tech start-ups seeking Pentagon contracts. The firm was founded by Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State, and Michele Flournoy, a former Pentagon adviser.

In 2018, Haines was an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump’s controversial nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as CIA director, the first female career intelligence officer to be named Director.

While not commenting on Haspel’s record, Haines praised her knowledge of the agency and intelligence, a position hailed by the White House as it promoted Haspel’s confirmation.

Critics of Haines’ endorsement said Haspel was reportedly involved in the operations of CIA secret black site torture sites in 2002 and 2003, had supported waterboarding, and admitted her role in helping destroy videotapes of torture by CIA interrogators.

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