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Biden announces his national security team

PTI Washington | Updated on November 24, 2020 Published on November 24, 2020

Includes special envoy for climate

US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his national security team that includes three women and an envoy for climate that for the first time would sit on the National Security Council.

Biden intends to nominate Anthony Blinken as his Secretary of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Linda Thomas-Greenfield as US Ambassador to the United Nations, and Avril Haines, as Director of National Intelligence, who would be the first woman to be named for this top intelligence position.

The President-elect also announced the nomination of former Secretary of State John Kerry as Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, the first such official to sit on the national security council.

Jake Sullivan has been appointed National Security Advisor and will be one of the youngest people to serve in that role in decades.

Crisis-tested team

“This is the crux of that team. These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative,” Biden said adding that he needs a team ready on Day One to help him reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges the US faces, and advance its security, prosperity, and values.

“Their accomplishments in diplomacy are unmatched, but they also reflect the idea that we cannot meet the profound challenges of this new moment with old thinking and unchanged habits — or without diversity of background and perspective. It’s why I’ve selected them,” he said.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said that these crisis-tested national security and foreign policy leaders have the knowledge and expertise to keep the country safe and restore and advance America’s leadership around the world.

“They represent the best of America. They come from different places and reflect different life experiences. But they all share an unwavering belief in America’s ideals and an unshakeable commitment to democracy and the rule of law. And they are the leaders America needs to help meet the challenges of this moment — and those that lie ahead,” Harris said.

Profile of the officials

Blinken has held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over three decades, and has advised President-elect Biden on foreign policy since 2002. A graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School, from 2015 to 2017, Blinken served as Deputy Secretary of State under the Obama-Biden administration.

In that role, Blinken helped to lead diplomacy in the fight against ISIS, the rebalance to Asia, and the global refugee crisis, while building bridges to the innovation community.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant nominated to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. He led a distinguished 30-year career as a law enforcement official and a nationally-recognised lawyer in the private sector. “When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones,” Mayorkas said.

During his tenure at DHS, he led the implementation of DACA, negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, led the Department’s response to Ebola and Zika.

Avril Haines has worked with President-elect Biden in various roles for more than a decade, and will become the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence. During the Obama administration, Haines served as Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from 2015-2017, during which time she led the National Security Council’s (NSC) Deputies Committee.

From 2013-15, Haines was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; she was the first woman to hold both of these positions. Avril began her service in the Obama administration in 2010 as the NSC Legal Advisor.

Retired Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat, is returning to public service after retiring from a 35-year career with the US Foreign Service in 2017.

“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service — and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations,” she said.

Sullivan is currently a senior policy advisor to President-elect Biden and formerly served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama-Biden administration. He previously served as Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the US Department of State and as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Kerry served as America’s 68th Secretary of State, the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman to serve as Secretary in over a century.

A Yale University graduate, Kerry elevated environmental challenges as diplomatic priorities, from oceans to hydrofluorocarbons.

He was a key architect of the Paris Climate Accord, and signed the historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions with his granddaughter on his lap.

“America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is. I’m proud to partner with the President-elect, our allies, and the young leaders of the climate movement to take on this crisis as the President’s Climate Envoy,” Kerry said in a tweet.

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Published on November 24, 2020
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