Joe Biden Taps Longtime Diplomat William Burns as CIA Director

President-elect Joe Biden will nominate longtime diplomat William Burns to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, The Associated Press reports.

Burns, the former ambassador to Russia and Jordan, has worked at the State Department for more than three decades for presidents of both parties.

He retired in 2014 after serving as deputy secretary of state and has since run the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.

“I developed enormous respect for my colleagues in the CIA,” Burns said on Monday. “I served with them in hard places around the world. I saw firsthand the courage and professionalism that they displayed and the sacrifices that their families made.”

Unusual pick:

Burns has no experience in intelligence but many longtime CIA officials hailed his diplomatic background.

Former Acting CIA Director Mike Morell told the AP that Burns’ “command of the issues, his deep respect for intelligence, and his care for people will ensure” that he is embraced by the CIA rank-and-file.

“Bill Burns is deeply respected for his integrity, honesty, & commitment to the workforce,” said longtime CIA veteran Norman Roule. “He will arrive w great respect for the IC & its work.”

Biden said Burns shares his “profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical.”

“Ambassador Burns will bring the knowledge, judgment and perspective we need to prevent and confront threats before they can reach our shores,” Biden said. “The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA director.”

Extensive overseas experience:

Burns has worked in the State Department since 1982. In 2005, he was named ambassador to Russia by George W. Bush. He also served as the top aide to former State Secretaries Madeleine Albright and William Christopher and ran the department’s policy planning office.

Burns has received three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards.

The AP noted that although Trump elevated the CIA Director job to a Cabinet-level position, it is not expected to remain part of the Cabinet under Biden.

The CIA stopped being a Cabinet-level position under Bush when the administration created the Office of the National Intelligence Director to oversee the intelligence community.


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