See below for video and for Sen. Mark Warner’s prepared remarks, courtesy of his office, at this morning’s Senate confirmation hearing for Avril Haines for Director of National Intelligence. As Sen. Warner says:
“The dedicated women and men of the Intelligence Community have been through a lot over the last four years. Our intelligence professionals have been unfairly maligned; their expertise, knowledge, and analysis has often been ignored and ridiculed by a president uninterested in facts contradicting his political interests. Those who bravely spoke the truth were vilified, reassigned, fired, or retaliated against. Ms. Haines, it will be your task to ensure that the IC recovers from this dark chapter.”
Below are Vice Chairman Warner’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Ms. Haines. Welcome as well to your family.
Congratulations on your nomination to be the next Director of National Intelligence, a position of great responsibility for the national security of the United States. Thank you for again agreeing to serve your country.
You will have a lot on your plate, and, if confirmed, I know you will hit the ground running. Top of the list will be to reinforce the prime imperative for our nation’s Intelligence Community: to find the truth – and to speak truth to power, without fear of political retribution.
The dedicated women and men of the Intelligence Community have been through a lot over the last four years. Our intelligence professionals have been unfairly maligned; their expertise, knowledge, and analysis has often been ignored and ridiculed by a president uninterested in facts contradicting his political interests. Those who bravely spoke the truth were vilified, reassigned, fired, or retaliated against. Ms. Haines, it will be your task to ensure that the IC recovers from this dark chapter.
Congress created the position of DNI after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to protect the Intelligence Community from politicization and integrate its disparate capabilities so we could connect the proverbial dots. Congress gave the DNI three missions – to serve as the President’s principal intelligence adviser; to lead the Intelligence Community; and to develop, determine, and execute the National Intelligence Program.
We need to return to those basic principles. You will need to inspire a workforce hollowed out by years of firings and remind them that their mission is critical, and their cause noble. You will need to exercise leadership of the IC’s 18 agencies so their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. You will need to demonstrate to the American people that the Intelligence Community deserves their utmost confidence as a source of truth and insight. You will need to assure allied intelligence services around the world that America is a reliable partner in our shared cause to promote democracy… advance human rights… fight terrorism and extremism… and resist authoritarian movements.
This is no small task. But we will be your partner in this endeavor. One of the first things you can do – at this hearing even – is to make a strong statement of support for professionalism in the IC, and pledge that you will not tolerate politics influencing the analytical process.
With all of this said, we also need to discuss the kind of world in which we find ourselves in 2021, and the threats that you see on the horizon. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic – one that could have and should have been foreseen – that has taken the lives and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
Terrorism is real and a major threat, especially as violent extremist groups – whether Islamist or White Nationalist – are increasingly mutating, fracturing, regrouping, and radicalizing on the internet and through social media.
A revanchist Russia has harnessed the inexpensive, asymmetric tools of cyberattacks and disinformation to reach out and touch us in ways that have gone around much of our multi-billion-dollar military hardware.
But perhaps the greatest challenge facing you as DNI will be a rising China that is committed to surpassing and eclipsing the U.S. militarily, economically, and technologically.
Ms. Haines, you will not have an easy job, but I know that you know this, and I commend you for signing up for it. I look forward to discussing these and other issues with you today.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.