[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 20, 2021)]
[Page S68]

                       NOMINATION OF AVRIL HAINES

  Mr. COTTON. Mr. President, for the information of other Senators who 
want to know if we have a vote tonight specifically on the nomination 
of Avril Haines to be Director of National Intelligence, I was the last 
person to object to holding that vote. I no longer object.
  I wanted to have a question for the record answered. Miss Haines, 
thankfully, responded to my question yesterday. I want to thank Senator 
Rubio and Senator Warner for helping us get that answer.
  Specifically, in her open session yesterday, she gave an answer to 
Senator Wyden that suggested the intelligence community might reopen 
investigations into detention interrogation programs from 2001 to 2006. 
She 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.
  She has confirmed that in the written record. I am glad to see that 
we are not going to reopen that period.
  I want to thank Ms. Haines for providing the answer.
  Most importantly, I want to thank our brave operations and 
paramilitary operations officers in the CIA for what they do, always, 
to keep this country safe. I am ready to vote on this nomination. I 
believe the rest of the Senate is as well.
  I yield back the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. RUBIO. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.


[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 20, 2021)]
[Pages S69-S70]


  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I rise to discuss the nomination of Avril 
Danica Haines to be Director of National Intelligence. I think my 
colleagues know that in a few minutes, the Senate will be voting on her 
nomination for this key position.
  I briefly intend to outline where I think things stand on several 
sensitive issues with the 18 agencies that make up the intelligence 
  The Biden administration and Ms. Haines have an opportunity and a 
duty to turn the page on the coverups and lawlessness of the outgoing 
administration. That is why I asked Ms. Haines at her confirmation 
hearing whether she would abide by a law that I authored requiring an 
unclassified report on who was responsible for the killing of 
Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  Jamal Khashoggi was a U.S. resident who was lured to the Saudi 
consulate in Istanbul and brutally murdered. Despite press stories that 
the Saudi Arabian leader was responsible for the killing, the Trump 
administration stayed mum, just stonewalled. For a whole year, the 
Trump administration just ignored the law that I wrote. So I asked Ms. 
Haines at our hearing whether she would follow the law and provide that 
unclassified report on who was responsible for Jamal Khashoggi's 
murder. Ms. Haines' response was straightforward. She said she would 
provide the report and comply with the law.
  That statement, frankly, as modest as it was, was a sea change, 
colleagues, from the obstructionism and stonewalling of the Trump 
administration. The Trump administration had basically taken the 
position on laws like this transparency measure that it was kind of 
optional for the executive branch to comply.
  So Ms. Haines' direct commitment to making that key report on the 
role the Saudi leaders in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, in my view, 
was a real step forward for the rule of law, for accountability, and 
for human rights. And I will say as a journalist's kid that it was a 
real step forward for the freedom of the press everywhere.
  The second subject I discussed with Ms. Haines was a particularly 
troubling aspect of the CIA's recent history. The CIA spied on the 
staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee when the staff was writing 
the torture report. As Deputy Director, Ms. Haines didn't hold anyone 
accountable. In my view, this abuse, this spying on the Senate Select 
Committee on Intelligence, basically, colleagues, turns the whole 
concept of oversight on its head. The U.S. Congress is supposed to do 
oversight on the executive branch and not visa-versa.
  In response to my questions at the hearing, Ms. Haines admitted that 
the spying on the committee was wrong. She also agreed that she 
supported recommendations to expand accountability and would apply that 
expanded accountability to the intelligence community at large. And 
when she was asked about the CIA's baseless efforts to have committee 
staff prosecuted, she agreed that there ought to be guardrails against 
that happening again.
  The third area I explored with the nominee was the need to rebuild 
trust in the intelligence community, which, in my view, requires a new 
focus on transparency and openness. For example, there ought to be 
transparency so that the American people know what kind of surveillance 
is being conducted on them. The President of the Senate knows about the 
important vote we had on that amendment that I offered, the bipartisan 
amendment with Senator Daines, because we ought to get transparency on 
whether the government is spying on the browsing history of the 
American people.
  So this is really a critical and growing concern because we are all 
seeing data brokers and others selling people's data, and it is 
especially important that the American people are told if the 
government is using a legal loophole in the law in the warrant 
requirement of the Fourth Amendment So I asked Ms. Haines about 
circumstances in which the government, instead of getting an order, 
just goes out and purchases the private records of Americans from these 
sleazy and unregulated commercial data brokers who are simply above the 
law--literally above the law. I believe this practice is unacceptable, 
and soon I will be introducing legislation to make it clear that the 
Fourth Amendment is not for sale.

  Now, for Congress to tackle the topic, it is vitally important that 
there be an informed public debate about what the government is 
collecting right now and what it believes is a legal basis for the 
collection. And I was encouraged by how Ms. Haines responded to that 
question I asked. She said it was critical that the American people 
have an understanding of when and under what authorities the government 
is buying their private data.
  Now, Ms. Haines made a number of other commitments related to 
transparency issues, many of which relate to a problem that I have come 
to describe as ``secret law.''
  To my colleagues--I see our new Members here--people think when a law 
is written, they go to a coffee shop in Atlanta or Athens or Tucson, 
and they read about a law, and they think that is what the public law 
says. But secret law is based on the proposition that after the public 
law is put in place, the government often reinterprets the public law 
in secret and keeps the new interpretation secret under the pretext 
that this secrecy is just so key to keeping Americans safe.
  The reality is that the interpretation of public law ought to be 
transparent and public as well, and it comes down to a very 
straightforward principle. I am a strong opponent of secret law. I am a 
strong supporter of transparency. And I intend to remind Director 
Haines what she told me just a few days ago about transparency and to 
push hard for the public release of as much information as possible 
when Americans deserve to see it, and they can see it when it is 
consistent with the safety and well-being of their households and their 
loved ones.
  I also intend to push the Director of National Intelligence to fix a 
broken declassification system. For years, a

[[Page S70]]

flood of new, digitally classified information has overwhelmed the 
obsolete, paper-based declassification system. This system is so out of 
whack that in order to get a document declassified, government 
officials actually have to walk the document around Washington from 
agency to agency. I actually said at our open hearing that I wonder if 
it is getting to the point that to get a document declassified, someone 
who works for the government has to pack a lunch, put the document in a 
big black briefcase, and then make their way all over the Nation's 
  So I have introduced with Senator Moran bipartisan legislation to 
authorize the Director of National Intelligence to fix the problem. Ms. 
Haines has acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and the DNI's 
role in fixing it. It is my intent to make sure that this also is not 
allowed to just continue as business as usual.
  Some of the starkest differences between the actions of the outgoing 
administration and the positions taken by Ms. Haines here a couple days 
ago relate to the crucial area of whistleblowers.
  The outgoing administration broke the law when it withheld from 
Congress the complaint of the Ukraine whistleblower, the whistleblower 
who identified abuses that resulted in the first impeachment of Donald 
Trump. This lawlessness undermined both the whistleblower system and 
the independence of the Intelligence Community Inspector General, who 
had determined that the complaint ought to be submitted to Congress. 
Ms. Haines has been clear--the law requires that when the inspector 
general determines that a whistleblower complaint is urgent, the 
Director of National Intelligence cannot keep it from the Congress.
  She made other commitments to whistleblowers. There are whistleblower 
protection laws--including some that have been approved by the Senate 
Intelligence Committee--that need to be enacted. There are procedures 
already required by law that the outgoing administration just didn't 
issue. They just stonewalled.
  After all the damage done by the Trump administration with respect to 
trampling on the public's right to know and transparency where the 
information can be made public to the American people without 
compromising sources and methods, I will state that the Biden 
administration has a lot of work to do to repair and improve 
whistleblower protections. They are going to have a lot on their plate. 
The country has massive cyber vulnerabilities that we saw just a couple 
of weeks ago. There is more to do in terms of preventing foreign 
interference in our elections. We have to ensure that other 
surveillance programs provide security without sacrificing our 
constitutional rights.
  I am going to close by way of saying I don't assume that I will 
always agree with the incoming administration. That has been true for 
me with Democrats and Republicans on these issues. When we disagree, we 
will have a vigorous debate--as vigorous as when I disagreed with the 
Trump administration.
  Ms. Haines as DNI and Ambassador Burns as CIA Director are beginning 
to shape up as a team that will be more open with the public, respect 
the law, and work with the Congress to repair the vast damage of the 
outgoing administration and respect what Ben Franklin talked about so 
many years ago. Liberty and security are not mutually exclusive. Smart 
policies get you both. Not-so-smart policies get you less of both. And 
that is our challenge.
  So tonight, because of her answers to me at the open Intelligence 
hearing a couple of days ago, I want to say I am going to be supporting 
Ms. Haines' nomination to be Director of National Intelligence.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia


[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 11 (Wednesday, January 20, 2021)]
[Page S74]

                         DISCHARGED NOMINATION

  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was discharged from 
further consideration of the following nomination by unanimous consent 
and the nomination was confirmed:



[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 12 (Thursday, January 21, 2021)]
[Pages S88-S89]


  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I today rise in support of the 
nomination of Ms. Avril Haines as the Director of National 
  Last night, the Senate overwhelming voted to confirm Ms. Avril Haines 
as the Director of National Intelligence with a vote of 84-10.
  I voted in support of Director Haines as I believe her to be a 
highly-qualified professional with the trust and mandate by President 
Biden to be a strong leader and reinstall stability and objectivity to 
the intelligence community.
  She has pledged to defend and uphold our democracy, our freedoms and 
our values by ensuring there is simply no place for politics ever when 
it comes to intelligence.
  It is clear from her background that Ms. Haines has the experience 
necessary to be an effective DNI.
  She has served as both the Deputy Director of CIA and as Deputy 
National Security Advisor to President Obama, along with other 
positions in the White House and Congress.
  Her nearly 20 years of experience in national security, intelligence, 
and foreign policy matters gives her valuable insight into the many 
challenges facing the intelligence community and makes her a great 
choice for Director of National Intelligence.
  Based on my conversations with Director Haines and her testimony 
before the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am fully confident she has 
what it takes to put the IC on the right path.
  During her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, 
Director Haines outlined her top three priorities: No. 1, strengthening 
the institution including increasing trust and credibility with 
analytic objectivity; No. 2, better aligning IC efforts and resources 
to the major threats we are facing such as China and transnational 
threats; and No. 3, building better partnerships Congress, academia, 
the private sector, U.S. State and local officials, and with other 
  I strongly agree on these significant priorities and look forward to 
periodically receiving updates from her on these.
  Furthermore, I thank her for her clearly stated position that 
waterboarding is, in fact, torture and that the CIA's former 
interrogation program's enhanced interrogation techniques included 
  In short, she is the ideal candidate to head the intelligence 
community at a time when we face numerous crisis threatening our 
national security.
  She inherits an intelligence community beset by challenges, and I 
look forward to working with her to protect the American people.
  Mr. PAUL. Madam President, the Director of National Intelligence must 
demonstrate commitment to restraining the vast power of our 
intelligence agencies. They should not view themselves as an enabler or 
facilitator of

[[Page S89]]

agencies that already operate without public scrutiny. We do not need 
another Washington insider in this position, someone who will go along 
to get along, helping to further the expansion of secret government 
  What we need is someone who is a skeptic of these powers. After years 
of revelations of government spying on Americans and the exposure of 
the unconstitutional applications of these powers, I had hoped that the 
President would submit a nominee that understands the importance of 
regaining the public's trust, to pledge transparency and 
  The President's nominee, Avril Haines, does not meet that profile. 
She played a key role in formulating the government's legal authority 
to conduct summary executions by drone and was reportedly summoned in 
the middle of the night to approve lethal drone strikes. As Deputy 
Director of the CIA, she declined to punish any of the CIA employees 
who spied on the Senate as it was investigating the CIA's torture 
programs. Her record is that of an insider, someone who will defend the 
broken status quo. I will not support more of the same unconstitutional 
policies, and I oppose her confirmation.