WASHINGTON – A White House lawyer who advised President Barack Obama on “sensitive” intelligence operations will be the CIA’s new deputy director, the first woman to hold such a senior post at the agency, officials said Wednesday.
Avril Haines, who worked as deputy assistant to Obama and legal adviser to the National Security Council, will replace Michael Morell, a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who had twice held the post of acting director.
Unlike her predecessor, the 43-year-old is a newcomer to the country’s leading spy agency but has worked closely on intelligence issues with the CIA’s new director, John Brennan, formerly Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser. Haines is likely to be helping the new CIA director revise the guidelines for controversial drone strikes carried out by the agency.
Brennan, an influential figure in the administration, is expected to try to move the CIA back to a more traditional role of intelligence gathering as opposed to “targeted killings” and other paramilitary action.