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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

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America
  3. Politics: Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker

Schumer pushes for doomed filibuster changes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told the Democratic caucus Tuesday night he plans to propose instituting a one-time "talking" filibuster requirement, and bypassing the 60-vote threshold for major legislation, to pass the party's election reforms package via simple majority.

Why it matters: While Schumer acknowledged both votes are expected to fail — and some vulnerable Democrats up for re-election feel it will put them in a tough spot — he argued it's worth putting members on the record for historic legislation.