PPSA Requests Records on Promises of Transparency From Avril Haines, New Director of National Intelligence
vIn January, Avril Haines was challenged by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) during a hearing before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to consider her nomination to serve as Director of National Intelligence. Sen. Wyden asked:
“If you are confirmed, would you agree to inform Americans about any circumstances in which the intelligence community purchases their data and the legal basis for doing so?”
Ms. Haines replied:
“I would seek to try to publicize essentially a framework that helps people understand the circumstances under which we do that and the legal basis that we do that under.”
She further promised to provide “transparency so people have an understanding of the guidelines under which the intelligence community operates.”
Ms. Haines received 84 Senate votes for her confirmation, with an endorsement from Sen. Wyden. She has now been director of national intelligence for four months. At the time, the Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability applauded the new director’s promise of transparency. With that in mind, on Monday PPSA filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking all agency records addressing Director Haines’ exchange with Sen. Wyden, as well as all agency records – prepared as part of Haines’ promised disclosures – describing the intelligence community’s purchases of Americans’ private data and the legal basis and guidelines for doing so.
PPSA’s Freedom of Information Act request seeks all agency records regarding Director Haines’ exchange with Sen. Wyden, as well as all agency records—prepared as part of Haines’ promised disclosures—describing the intelligence community’s purchases of Americans’ private data, and the legal basis and guidelines for doing so.
Director Haines’ promise of candor and transparency was widely seen as a refreshing departure from the oracular pronouncements of some in the intelligence community. PPSA hopes Director Haines sees this FOIA request as an opportunity to make good on those promises.