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NOW: Rubio Chairs Haines Nomination Hearing
Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) convened an open nomination hearing for Ms. Avril Haines, the expected nominee to be Director of National Intelligence:
A live-stream of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website here.
Acting Chairman Rubio’s opening remarks as prepared can be found below.
Acting Chairman Rubio: I’d like to welcome our witness today, Avril Haines, President-elect Biden’s nominee to be the next Director of National Intelligence. Avril, congratulations to you on the nomination. I’d like to start by acknowledging the unique circumstances we are operating under for today’s nomination hearing. I thank the members and the witness for their cooperation with us. The Vice Chairman and I agreed that the Committee should proceed with moving the process along to ensure the Senate has the opportunity to fill this critical national security position as early into the Biden administration as possible, while satisfying this Committee’s oversight obligations. Following the conclusion of this open hearing we will reconvene in our normal hearing room in Hart for a closed session.
Our goal in conducting this hearing is to enable the Committee’s thoughtful consideration of Ms. Haines’ qualifications to be the next Director of National Intelligence. Ms. Haines has provided written responses to questions from the Committee and its Members, and this morning Members will be able to ask any additional questions they have and hear directly from the nominee.
Avril received her bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago, and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Her professional background includes an array of national security and intelligence experiences, not least of which is time spent as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Deputy National Security Advisor. Avril also served on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the Office of White House Counsel, and the U.S. State Department Office of the Legal Advisor; clerked with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; studied judo in Japan; and won the Baltimore City Paper award for “Best Independent Bookstore.” Since leaving government, Ms. Haines has held roles at multiple academic institutions and think tanks, most recently and principally as a senior research scholar at Columbia University.
Ms. Haines, you’ve been asked to lead the Intelligence Community’s focal point for intelligence integration. ODNI was founded on the painfully learned lessons of September 11th, 2001. If confirmed, you will play a crucially important role in ensuring that ODNI’s mandate to integrate and coordinate the activities of the IC in the specific focus areas of, cybersecurity, counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and counterproliferation. As we have seen all too many times since ODNI’s inception, not one among that list is anything less than a “no-fail” mission.
For my part, I want to seek your commitment that, if confirmed as DNI, you will orient the Intelligence Community to comprehensively address the multifaceted national security and counterintelligence threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. I want to hear about your goals for expanding cooperation with our allies in the Indo-Pacific and around the world to counter Chinese malign influence, espionage, intellectual property theft, and subversion. This will be a challenge at every agency and department in the federal government as well as for schools and universities, private companies, and state and local governments. The IC needs to assist these other entities in recognizing and mitigating the Chinese threat where appropriate and under all applicable laws.
I think it is important to note that the current tensions in the U.S.-China relationship are not of our doing but the result of years of Washington reacting to a string of provocations, including, but not limited to, the growing Chinese Communist Party meddling in the politics and free discourse of the United States and its allies; China’s human rights abuses and actions in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong; the failure of repeated attempts to halt economic espionage and intellectual property violations; the now persistent pressure on Taiwan; and the militarization of the South China Sea—all violations of previous commitments. If confirmed as DNI, are you prepared to put the onus on Beijing to exercise restraint and fix the problems with the U.S. – P.R.C. relationship? Are you prepared to support policies in the interagency that will frustrate the Chinese Communist Party and focus on the Chinese threat?
In Latin America, I seek your commitment that you will sustain and enhance the focus and collection priorities on the threats posed by authoritarians in our own hemisphere – particularly from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. These countries openly welcome intelligence cooperation with U.S. adversaries including Russia, China, and Iran, and allow their territory to be used for collection against the United States. The crisis in Venezuela is destabilizing the region, and the regime in Caracas is directly responsible for the suffering and displacement of millions. It is critical that the incoming administration stand on the side of democracy and support interim-President Juan Guaido and a return to democratic legitimacy in Venezuela.
The Committee may be interested in your time as Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama and your role in some of the consequential policy decisions the Obama administration made with regard to the Iran nuclear deal, normalization of relations with Cuba, the response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the rise of ISIS, and others. While the job you have been nominated for is not a policymaking position, your judgement and the role you played formulating previous policies is of concern to the Senate.
The satisfaction of this Committee’s oversight obligations will require transparency and responsiveness from your office at all times. We will ask difficult questions of you and your staff, and we expect honest, complete, and timely answers. At the same time, we will also expect you to feel free to come to the Committee with situations that warrant our partnership.
Thank you for appearing before the Committee, for your years of service to our country, and your willingness to resume that service. I look forward to your testimony.