Track record

Avril Haines is a staunch advocate for military and counter-terrorism restraint, and a determined proponent of a major role for international law and human rights in the conduct of national security policy.

She will assume a Cabinet level position in the Biden administration, coordinating the work of the 17 US intelligence agencies, and producing daily intelligence briefings for the President. The position was created following the September 11, 2001.

Avril Haines served as President Obama’s CIA Deputy Director, under John Brennan, who “selected her because of her breadth of experience and pragmatic approach to national security challenges.”

Haines – a former State Department assistant legal adviser for treaty affairs and Deputy Chief Counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – replaced Antony Blinken as Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor.

Avril Haines was a non-resident principal at WestExec Advisors, which was co-founded by Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken and Michele Flournoy, who was a lead candidate for Secretary of Defense. Blinken and Flournoy played key roles in the formulation of Obama’s policy on Iran and Libya.

Haines was the Deputy Director of Columbia University World Projects, which is engaged in Third World projects, collaborating with the anti-Israel and pro-BDS “Physicians for Human Rights,” which seeks to try Israeli soldiers for, supposed, war crimes.

Avril Haines was a member of the Advisory Board of Foreign Policy for America, which features “J Street’s” head and founder, Jeremy Ben Ami, as a board member.  Other members of the Advisory Board include Joseph Cirincione (President, Ploughshares, a pro-Iran Washington, DC-based group), Antony Blinken, UN Ambassador-designate Linda Thomas Greenfield and Rob Malley (President and CEO of George Soros’ International Crisis Group).


A champion of multilateralism with Europe, the UN and other international organizations, Avril Haines is a resolute supporter of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord (JCPOA). She is a determined opponent of added-sanctions on Iran, and an articulate critic of the killing of Qasem Soleimani. The latter was the chief architect and executor of Iranian subversion, terrorism and wars throughout the world and the lead-engine in the pursuit of the Ayatollahs’ fanatic, megalomaniacal strategic goal.

Like Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken and National Security-designate Jake Sullivan, Haines considers Iran’s Shiite Ayatollahs as potential partners for peaceful-coexistence and regional power-sharing with the current Sunni regimes of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.

During a House Foreign Affairs January 14, 2020 Hearing, she stated: “….Walking away from the JCPOA and imposing new US sanctions on Iran drove a wedge between the US and our long-term allies in Europe…. No Iranian analyst will tell you that economic sanctions are likely to have a meaningful impact on the regime’s capacity to engage in destabilizing actions in the region…. The question is not whether Soleimani deserved his fate; the question is whether this was a wise action that served US national interests and ultimately made us safer…. Our allies view it as a violation of international law…. It is virtually impossible to understand why it was impractical for the President and his senior leadership to consult with Congress, our allies and Iraq before targeting Soleimani…. We need to engage with our allies and partners outside of the region, as well as partners in the region, in order to promote a more stable order that better promotes security, human rights and civic engagement….”

These observations were echoed by Haines during a January 2020 presentation at the American Society of International Law.

In a January 21, 2020 panel discussion at the Center for American Progress (CAP), Haines said that the targeted killing of Soleimani violated international law, was not a reaction to an imminent threat, and was carried out in a disproportionate manner.

Islamic Terrorism and refugees

According to Harold Koh, a former State Department legal adviser, Haines was “a voice of restraint on all counterterrorism issues [especially the use of drones]…. As Deputy National Security Advisor, she was principally responsible for increasing [Syrian] refugee admissions against massive nativist headwind…. Haines kept pressing to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay….”

Haines framed embracing [Syrian] refugees as a counterterrorism measure, since “when we support and care for refugees, we contradict [extremists’] message.” Ben Rhodes, one of Obama’s chief foreign policy aides, reflected: “Not a single human being besides Barack Obama did more than Avril to get more refugees into this country.”

John Brennan (“Jihad is a legitimate tenet of Islam”), who chose Haines as his deputy in 2013, indicated: “Avril and I bore the scars of a lot of the pushback that we received from counterterrorism proponents that wanted to have more latitude in carrying out strikes.”

Along with Blinken and 47 additional high-ranking former national security officials, Haines signed on a July 31, 2020 document, claiming that the Trump Administration’s travel ban against Muslim countries – which are involved, directly and indirectly, in terrorist activities – is a threat to US national security.


On May 4, 2020, Haines signed on a letter to the Democratic National Committee, along with 31 foreign affairs and national security personalities and systematic critics of Israel, among them Ben Rhodes, Tony Lake, Strobe Talbott, Rob Malley, Dan Kurtzer, Martin Indyk, Bruce Riedel and senior advisers to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

The letter was inspired and promoted by the pro-Palestinian “J Street,” urging a change in the Democratic Party platform: “Past party platforms have rightly stated a commitment to Israel’s security, and included condemnations of threats and actions against our ally…. Those platforms have, however, also been nearly silent on the rights of Palestinians, on Israeli actions [construction in Jewish communities] that undermine those rights and the prospects for a two-state solution, and on the need for security for both peoples.”

This column was originally published at The Ettinger Report.

The views expressed in guest columns are not necessarily the views or positions of the CCNS or its members.

© 2024 Citizens Commission on National Security

© 2024 Citizens Commission on National Security