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Former Obama officials Morell, Haines likely candidates for Biden spy jobs: sources

Former CIA acting director Michael Morell speaks during a forum on election security titled, “2020 Vision: Intelligence and the U.S. Presidential Election” at the National Press Club in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(This Nov 8 story corrects para 5 to remove reference to Avril Haines serving in CIA while it was using harsh interrogation techniques; adds para 6 explaining that she joined later and helped in CIA)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two former senior U.S. intelligence officials - Michael Morell and Avril Haines - have emerged as leading contenders to serve as Director of National Intelligence or run the CIA in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, several current and former intelligence officials said.

Morell served as the Central Intelligence Agency’s deputy director in the Obama Administration between 2010 and 2013, and during that time also served two stints as acting agency director.

Haines, served as CIA deputy director and as President Barack Obama’s deputy national security advisor, said the sources.

Haines declined to comment and Morell could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment.

Some former Democratic aides have raised concerns about Morell because he served at the CIA when the agency used so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” on suspected Islamist militants, practices that a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation has labeled as torture.

Haines did not join the agency until after President Barack Obama banned the interrogation techniques in 2009. She was involved in preparing the CIA’s response to the Senate investigation.

Other names being discussed by both Democratic Party and intelligence officials as possible candidates for Director of National Intelligence include Michael Leiter, a former DNI official and former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, a branch of the DNI’s office, and Mike Rogers, a former Republican Congressman who chaired the House Intelligence Committee, the sources said.

Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Scott Malone, Sandra Maler and Kevin Liffey