June 12, 2013
Statement by CIA Director John O. Brennan
When I was confirmed as CIA Director, one of the things that I was most looking forward to upon my return to the Agency was the opportunity to work side-by-side once again with Michael Morell. Michael and I began our Agency careers in 1980, and we have been close friends and colleagues since that time. Throughout his career, Michael has tackled some of the toughest assignments that CIA has to offer: Presidential Briefer, Associate Deputy Director, Director for Intelligence, Deputy Director, and—toughest of all—Acting Director. In each case, Michael’s devotion to the men and women of the Agency, our intelligence mission, and to a job well done has been exemplary. And over the past three months, Michael’s support and counsel to me have been invaluable, and I cannot thank him enough for helping me with my transition back to CIA.
As much as I would selfishly like to keep Michael right where he is for as long as possible, he has decided to retire to spend more time with his family and to pursue other professional opportunities. In many respects, Michael has come to personify the strengths and qualities of this great organization, and it is difficult for me to imagine CIA without Michael’s exceptionally sharp mind, tremendous energy, and absolute dedication to mission. But I am comforted by the fact that Michael will be able to spend more time with his wonderful family.
While we all will greatly miss Michael, I am extremely pleased to announce that he will be succeeded by Avril Haines, a tremendously talented public servant with whom Michael and I—and many other senior national security officials—have worked closely over the past several years. Avril is currently Deputy Assistant to the President and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council. She has participated in virtually every Deputies and Principals Committee meeting over the past two years and chairs the Lawyers’ Group that reviews the Agency’s most sensitive programs. In every instance, Avril’s command of substance, sense of mission, good judgment, and keen insights have been outstanding.
Prior to her service at the White House, Avril served at the Department of State as the Assistant Legal Adviser for Treaty Affairs. She has published in the area of private international law and the law of war, has taught classes as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law School, and has represented the United States in international negotiations at the Hague Conference, the United Nations, and elsewhere. The arc of Avril’s career has given her a range of experiences on many of the same issues that we focus on as an Agency, and I very much look forward to Avril bringing her expertise, intellect, integrity, and dedication to national security to our Agency.
I wish to thank Michael and his family for their profound and lasting contributions to both our Agency and our Nation during more than three decades of distinguished service, and warmly welcome Avril and her husband as they become a very important part of our Agency family.
Statement by Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell
As Director Brennan said in his very kind statement, I have decided to retire from the Agency after 33 years of service, including more than three as Deputy Director. I will leave my current position on Friday, 9 August.
I am passionate about two things in this world—the Agency and my family. And while I have given everything I have to the Central Intelligence Agency and its vital mission for a third of a century, it is now time for me to give everything I have to my family.
I will miss many things about this Agency and about the job that I have been blessed with for the last three years. But most of all, I will miss the people—the talented and dedicated officers on the senior leadership team, my colleagues on the Deputies Committee with whom I have spent countless hours in the Situation Room, and, most of all, the CIA workforce—the heroes of this place, the people at the pointy end of the spear, the patriots who do the work of keeping the country safe every day.
The presence of John Brennan in the office next to mine has made this decision both tougher and easier. It has made it tougher because John has been a friend and a mentor for years and because the Agency is going to accomplish great things under his leadership, and I am sorry that I will not be at his side as that unfolds. At the same time, it is easier because I will leave knowing that the Agency is in the best possible hands. Given my love for this place, that is a very reassuring thing.
Whenever someone involved in the rough and tumble of Washington decides to move on, there is speculation in various quarters about the “real reason.” But when I say that it is time for my family, nothing could be more real than that.
From being the PDB briefer at the side of President Bush on that horrific day in September 2001 to being at President Obama’s side as the United States brought Bin Ladin to justice in May 2011—and all the ups and downs in between—few Americans have been as privileged as I have been to work at, and to represent, such an extraordinary organization.
The talents of the women and men at this Agency are second to none. To have worked with these officers in the pursuit of the security of our country is a gift that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Finally, let me be among the first to welcome Avril Haines to the CIA. I have worked very closely with Avril over the past couple of years, and she will be an outstanding Deputy Director. She is extremely bright without being intimidating; she is tough while being compassionate; and she has the deepest of integrity. Like John, she regularly asks, “What is the right thing to do?” And, like John and me, Avril cares deeply about our Agency and our workforce. I have seen that time and time again in my interactions with her. We are very lucky to have Avril join our Agency family.