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Biden announces his CIA director pick is fmr. Ambassador William Burns

Then-Former Vice President Joe Biden. (Marc Nozell/Flickr)
January 11, 2021

President-elect Joe Biden announced Ambassador William J. Burns as his pick for CIA Director Monday with just 10 days to go before Inauguration Day.

A career diplomat, Burns served in the U.S. Foreign Service for decades, according to a press release from the Biden-Harris transition team provided to American Military News. He has served both Democrat and Republican presidential administrations in several national security positions.

“Ambassador Burns is a consummate professional full of integrity who will bring the facts and independence that our national security demands,” the release stated. “Whether it’s cyber attacks emanating from Moscow, the challenge China poses, or the threat we face from terrorists and other non-state actors, he has the experience and skill to marshal efforts across government and around the world to ensure the CIA is positioned to protect the American people.”

Burns served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2008 to 2011, U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2001 to 2005, and U.S. Ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001.

The top diplomat was also special assistant to former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, as well as minister-counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. He served as special assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and South Asian affair at the National Security Council, as well.  

If Burns is confirmed, he would be the first leader of the CIA whose primary experience stems from the State Department, CNN reported.

“Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure,” Biden said in a statement. “He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect. Ambassador Burns will bring the knowledge, judgment, and perspective we need to prevent and confront threats before they can reach our shores. The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director.”  

Burns could replace CIA Director Gina Haspel, who has served in the top position since 2018.

“Keeping our nation safe and secure requires intelligence that is apolitical and puts the American people first. A national security expert with decades of experience serving under Democratic and Republican presidents, Ambassador Bill Burns has a deep understanding of the global threats and challenges facing our country,” said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.