Biden nominee for spy chief wins confirmation after Cotton lifts hold

Biden spy chief nominee acknowledges US stance toward China must 'evolve' from Obama years

The Senate Wednesday confirmed President Biden’s spy chief nominee, Avril Haines, after Republican Sen. Tom Cotton stopped blocking the nomination once she said she would not reopen investigations into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation activities.

Haines, a former deputy to Obama CIA Director John Brennan and national security adviser Susan Rice, was named by Biden to lead the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Haines will be the intelligence community’s first female spy chief.

With Cotton’s hold lifted, Haines won easy confirmation Wednesday night, 84-10, making her the first Biden nominee to be approved by the Senate.

Cotton, of Arkansas, had said he had concerns from meetings with Haines over potential efforts to revisit post-9/11 interrogation techniques. A dozen years ago, the Obama administration declined to press prosecutions, despite a clamor from the hard Left.

Haines “clarified in the private setting that we had that she had no intention to open up those investigations and expose operations officers inside the CIA to criminal prosecution or adverse employment action or even holding it against them in potential future promotions or placements,” Cotton said Wednesday. “She has confirmed that in the written record.”

Haines replaces former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, an appointment of then-President Donald Trump, who has spoken up about the China threat and declassified a host of Trump-Russia documents.

While at the CIA, Haines had a hand in the agency’s response to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program, criticized as torture by its critics, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Haines was involved in the CIA’s decision not to punish CIA officers who had snooped on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s work.

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