Washington: US President Barack Obama today nominated a lawyer, who advised him on sensitive intelligence operations, for the number two position in the CIA, putting a woman for the first time in one of the spy agency`s top jobs.
In a statement, Obama announced to appoint 43-year-old Avril D Haines, the top lawyer at the National Security Council, as the new Deputy Director of the CIA.
Haines would replace Michael J Morell, who has been appointed a Member of the President`s Intelligence Advisory Board, after remaining in the spy agency for 33 years.
Appointment of a woman to the top spy position in the CIA was immediately welcomed.
"Haines is an outstanding public servant who has worked under multiple administrations, both at the State Department and in her current role as the Legal Advisor to the President and the National Security Council. She is an extraordinary lawyer with good judgment, operational savvy and common sense.
"No one knows the interagency decision-making process better than Avril, and she will no doubt be a tremendous asset to the CIA, the intelligence community and the country," Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
"Haines is an excellent choice to replace Michael Morrell as Deputy Director of the CIA. Haines has distinguished herself in a number of important positions in national security and foreign affairs. She has a deep understanding of the Intelligence Community and she values the contributions of our nation`s intelligence professionals," said James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.
Morell, 54, is leaving voluntarily, after a full career that has included two recent stints as acting director of CIA, first after the departure of Leon E Panetta in 2011 and then after the resignation of David Petraeus last year over a sex scandal.
"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," CIA Director John Brenan said.
"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," Brennan said.