Avril Haynes Biden’s Director of National Intelligence Nominee

She'd be America's first woman intelligence chief.

Another career professional with Obama administration ties has been chosen for Biden’s cabinet.

NBC (“Biden picks Avril Haines as director of national intelligence“):

Joe Biden has selected Avril Haines, who held top national security jobs under President Obama, to become director of national intelligence in the Biden administration.

Having served Obama as a national security lawyer and deputy CIA director, Haines, 51, has been playing a key national security role in the Biden transition. She will become the first woman in the DNI job, which was created after the 9-11 attacks to better coordinate the sprawling American intelligence bureaucracy. Among other things, the DNI oversees the presidential intelligence briefing process.

That no woman has held the DNI job isn’t that surprising; it’s a relatively new billet. But no woman was the Director of Central Intelligence, the predecessor job going back to 1947, either. (Gina Haspel was the first woman to hold the CIA Director’s job but that office lost the DCI role when DNI was created.)

Haynes is extremely well-qualified:

Haines served as deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2007 to 2008, when then-Sen. Biden was chairman.

She joined the State Department as a legal adviser in 2008, and in 2010 became deputy assistant to the president and deputy counsel to the president for national security affairs at the White House.

She served as deputy CIA director from 2013 to 2014, and was the first woman to hold that office. In that role, she decided not to discipline CIA personnel who were involved in a dispute with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which had accused the CIA of improperly accessing the committee’s computers.

She returned to the White House in 2014 to become deputy national security adviser.

Haines continues to fill out an administration that looks to be the exact opposite of Donald Trump’s: career professionals whose views are well within the mainstream. And, yes, Biden is clearly trying to put together a cabinet that “looks like America” but without resorting to tokenism.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Intelligence, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paine says:

    I imagine we’ll be seeing “extremely well-qualified” for a lot of Biden’s picks. Very refreshing…

  2. Jen says:

    She seems very well qualified, and sounds like a very interesting person…from Wikipedia:

    After graduating from Hunter College High School, Haines traveled to Japan for a year and enrolled in Kodokan, an elite judo institute in Tokyo.[6] 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.[6] In 1991 Haines had taken 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 where she enrolled as a doctorate student at Johns Hopkins University. However, later that year, Haines dropped out and alongside her future husband, purchased an auctioned bar in Fell’s Point, Baltimore which had been seized in a drug raid;[6] turning the former bar into an independent bookstore and café.[9] She named the store Adrian’s Book Cafe, after her late mother; Adrian’s realistic oil paintings filled the store.[9] 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.[10] Adrian’s hosted a number of literary readings, including erotica readings, which became a media focus when she was appointed by the President to be the Deputy Director of the CIA.[11][12] She served as the president of the Fell’s Point Business Association until 1998,[13] when she enrolled at the Georgetown University Law Center. Haines later received her Juris Doctor from Georgetown in 2001.[14]

    Judo, repairs car engines, flight school, and a bookstore that hosts erotica readings?

    I’m adding her to my list of people I’d want to have dinner with; she sounds fascinating.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: Hey! I lived in Fells Point around that time. Don’t remember Adrian’s though so we might have moved by then.Funk’s Democratic Coffee Spot was more of our hangout. And of course, Bagels by the Bay.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gawd damn, I could have sworn Condi Rice served as DNI. Turns out I am conflating DNI with NSA.

  5. David S. says:

    I was curious about that judo reference, so I read the 2013 Newsweek article that it’s sourced from. No elaboration therein on the judo, but it’s a remarkably excitement-instilling piece just to see the little anecdotes of her competence.

  6. mattbernius says:

    The judo thing is fascinating. The Kodokan isn’t just an elite judo school, it is THE judo school. As in the school started by Jingaro Kano, the founder or Judo and the organization that oversees the sport (for better or worse).

    Avril Haynes is apparently ranked at Brown Belt* (the rank before black) so she has taken her fair share of falls. I have a lot of respect for Judo. At 46 I am past the point where I am willing to take the constant bumps necessary to progress in it.

    * – Fun fact, most modern martial arts ranking, aka the belt system, comes from Judo and was only introduced in the late 19th and early 20th century as a pedegogical tool.