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Avril Haines. Photo: Mark Makela via Getty Images

Avril Haines, Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, has a long history of working on critical cybersecurity and digital challenges facing the intelligence community.

Why it matters: A deep understanding of cyber issues is of great value in the position, including as the Biden administration seeks to restore faith in a role that has faced accusations of politicization in the Trump era.

Catch up quick: Haines served as CIA deputy director from 2013 to 2015 and deputy national security adviser from 2015 to 2017.

  • During Haines’s tenure at the CIA, the agency initiated what became a major — and at times controversial — organizational transformation, known internally as the “reorg.” One of the main catalysts for this shakeup was CIA leaders’ desire to integrate cyber operations and new digital cybersecurity and intelligence-gathering practices across the agency.
  • The CIA must “embrace and leverage the digital revolution and innovate across our missions,” wrote then-CIA Director John Brennan in a 2015 announcement of the reorganization. “We must place our activities and operations in the digital domain at the very center of all our mission endeavors.”

Haines was also deeply engaged in discussions at the CIA about the broader challenges that the digital era was presenting to intelligence tradecraft.

  • It “was a major issue, even before I arrived at the agency,” Haines told me in 2019. “One way to frame our approach to the many challenges posed by technology was to ‘do less, but do it better,’ which meant focusing on what was most important and then spending the time and resources needed to keep it secret.

Meanwhile: Haines currently co-chairs the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Technology and Intelligence Task Force.

Go deeper

Biden administration unveils plan to combat domestic extremism

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced at a briefing on Friday that the Biden administration will roll out a three-pronged interagency plan to assess and combat the threat posed by domestic violent extremism.

Why it matters: The federal government's approach to domestic extremism has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. In his inaugural address, Biden repudiated political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism, vowing to defeat them.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.