Ms. Haines clarified stances on Iran Nuclear Deal, China in responses to Senator Collins’ questions
Washington, D.C. –This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, attended a confirmation hearing in-person to question Avril Haines, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence (DNI). In addition to the open confirmation hearing, Senator Collins attended a classified in-person only briefing to discuss sensitive national security issues with the nominee.
Senator Collins is the co-author of the 2004 landmark law that created the position of DNI and overhauled the nation’s intelligence community, improving its effectiveness while protecting civil liberties. During the hearing, Senator Collins discussed how former DNI Dan Coats was a model of how that office should be run in a completely nonpartisan way.
“You are going to be responsible for determining what goes into the President's daily brief,” said Senator Collins. “Do you commit to publishing analytic products in the President's Daily Brief, even if those products do not match the views or the policy positions of this incoming administration?”
“I do absolutely, Senator, and thank you for the question. I think, frankly, it is incredibly important to do that. I've seen that in the past,” replied Ms. Haines. “It is fundamental, it is what the President-elect, I believe, will expect from us, because he will want to know what information we have that actually conflicts with his policy positions.”
Iran Nuclear Deal
Senator Collins also discussed her opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal, because it failed to require anytime, anywhere inspections; did not sufficiently constrain the development of ballistic missiles; and would leave Iran in a stronger, wealthier position due to the sunsets that were included.
“President-elect Biden has indicated his intention to rejoin the JCPOA. I would like to know whether you have any reservations about your strong support for the agreement, and how the threat of the Iranians developing nuclear weapons fits in with your priorities?” asked Senator Collins.
“I think frankly we are a long way from that, and I think there is going to be an opportunity to consult with Congress, and with members like yourself, on these issues as we look at that,” said Ms. Haines. “But the President-elect has also indicated, and I agree with this, that in doing so, we have to also look at the ballistic missile issues that you have identified, and there are other obviously destabilizing activities that Iran engages in.”
Senator Collins also discussed the threat China poses to U.S. interests in terms of intellectual property theft as well as potential spying through its telecommunications companies.
“Do you have any concerns about how the Obama Administration approached China when you served in your capacity in that administration?” asked Senator Collins.
“I think our approach to China has to evolve and essentially meet the reality of the particularly assertive and aggressive China that we see today. China is a challenge to our security, to our prosperity, to our values across a range of issues, and I do support an aggressive stance, in a sense, to deal with the challenge that we are facing,” replied Ms. Haines. “I think keeping our focus, putting our resources and effort in making sure that we understand the intentions and capabilities of China, but also that we are actually recognizing and holding them to account, in effect, by identifying where they are taking actions that are inconsistent with our interests will be part of what I hope to focus on.”
Ms. Haines served as the White House Deputy National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration. She previously served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the first woman to hold this position.