With the 2020 election over and the unduly delayed transition to the new Biden administration finally underway, the focus within individual government agencies will appropriately turn to assimilating the policies and priorities of the new administration. Within the Intelligence Community (IC), which served as a veritable punching bag during the Trump administration, this realignment should embrace both personnel and morale initiatives designed to depoliticize the intelligence function and assure the workforce that competency and integrity, not political fealty, will once again be the coin of the realm in the processes used to bring analytic intelligence products to consumers. This will be a welcome return to normalcy because the IC, and the nation, face a pressing threat environment populated by hostile actors pursuing agendas inimical to U.S. interests.
The announcement of Avril Haines as nominee for director of national intelligence (DNI) augurs well for a return to honesty, candor, and “speaking truth to power.” In her first public comments after Biden announced her as nominee, Haines vowed to speak the uncomfortable truths that can produce difficult conversations and decisions for a president, but that are essential to ensuring that the “first customer” receives advice reflecting the unvarnished verities of impartial intelligence analysis. Without such candor, the IC becomes a prop servicing the political interests of the president – an all too familiar posture taken by the last two DNI’s in the Trump administration.