On Wednesday, President Obama withdrew the nomination of Avril Danica Haines as the State Department's legal advisor to nominate Haines to replace Michael Morell as of deputy director of the CIA. Haines became the leading candidate to replace Morell since his announcement of retirement after serving with the agency for 33 years and acting as director twice.
Currently, Haines is the deputy assistant to the president and legal advisor to the National Security Council. In this position, Haines has participated in many key meetings with top administration officials. Additionally, Haines has chaired a legal committee committed on focusing on the approval process and review of the CIA's most covert actions.
However, there has been some within the government who have expressed their surprise at Haines's selection for the position of deputy director. A former U.S. official has said that nominating Haines is "an interesting and unusual pick. Avril is extremely talented but obviously doesn't come out of the intelligence community. The ability of outsiders to work in the community is always an open question." This lack of confidence comes from Haines's extensive background with the State Department, which has often been at odds with actions by the CIA, especially concerning policies over drone strikes and their diplomatic consequences.
Additionally, Haines's critics have dug up her past doings. 20 years ago, Haines opened and co-owned Adrian's Book Café in the waterfront neighborhood of Fells Point in Baltimore. The bookstore was opened after Haines dropped out of a graduate program in physics at John Hopkins University. That seems like a normal enough reaction. However, Haines' bookstore featured regular "erotica nights." This included dinner for couples or singles and a series of readings by the guests of either published works or their own prose.
At an agency which has recently been rocked by revelations of secret erotic emails by former director David Petraeus, the discovery of Haines's rather racy past at the bookstore has possibly painted her in a certain light that may not be favorable for her nomination as deputy director.
However, the main focus on Haines's credibility seems to be on her inexperience of never working within the intelligence agency. As mentioned before, there is some surprise at the change in Haines's destination and some misgivings of her abilities but many believe that Haines will be a trailblazer. She nearly became the first woman to serve as legal advisor at the State Department. But now, if she is elected, she will be the first woman to serve as the CIA's #2 official. She even has the support of newly appointed CIA director John O. Brennan, who said in his first interview that Haines "knows more about covert action than anyone in the U.S. government outside of the CIA."