WASHINGTON – US President-elect Joe Biden is taking another step in his drive to renew the country’s intelligence services, announcing Monday that he will appoint professional diplomat William Burns as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Burns, a 33-year veteran of the US State Department, served under both Republican and Democratic presidents, under former US President George W. Bush as ambassador to Russia and under former President Barack Obama as assistant secretary of state.
In a video published on Monday, Biden praised the 64-year-old Burns as an « exemplary diplomat » and shared the conviction that secret services must be apolitical.
« It is time to restore the independence of our intelligence community and equally important to restore confidence in our career officials, including those in the CIA, » said the president-elect. « Bill Burns is exactly the right person for that. » Job. «
I ask Ambassador Bill Burns to head the Central Intelligence Agency for addressing many of the toughest global challenges we face. As a legendary professional diplomat, he approached complex issues with honesty, integrity and skill That is exactly how he will run the CIA. Pic.twitter.com/ypnuH016BV
If confirmed, Burns would replace current CIA director Gina Haspel, who was with the agency for more than three decades before moving to 2018 was the first woman to head the country’s first spy agency.
Haspel largely kept her public appearances to a minimum during her tenure, marked by heightened antagonism between the White House and the U.S. intelligence community, despite publicly clashing with outgoing President Donald Trump.
One of the most notable clashes came in January 2019 when she and other intelligence officials contradicted numerous White House allegations during a threat briefing on behalf of lawmakers.
@ CIA declines to comment on @POTUS allegations Dir Gina Haspel told him her testimony, before the Senate’s # Intelligence Committee was « mischaracterized … skewed » or how she and the President are now « on the same page »! pic.twitter.com/ApK6UOalsc
Earlier this month Haspel redesigned the CIA’s website to recruit a wider workforce.
In a statement, she said she hopes the redesign will « attract talented Americans and give them a feel for the dynamic environment that awaits them ».
JUST IN: New Years, redesigned website for @CIA – Focused on Recruitment « With a completely redesigned website … the CIA wants to attract talent by creating an engaging, unique and streamlined experience for applicants, » the spy agency said in an email pic.twitter.com/zyxcg5fB0Z
In the video released Monday by Biden’s transition team, Burns referred to the intelligence service as « America’s first line of defense – the indispensable foundation for making informed political decisions. »
« I will always do my best to serve this with honesty and intelligence To deliver integrity and without a hint of partiality, « he said.
Burns also promised, if confirmed, « to strengthen the confidence of the & intelligence agencies in working with our allies and partners. »
In addition to threats such as the great power competition between Russia and China, terrorism and cyberspace, Burns said the CIA must face the « increasing challenges » of climate change and health security.
The professional diplomat’s nomination appears to resonate with former intelligence and security officials who have reached out to Twitter to praise his selection.
« Bill Burns is deeply respected for his integrity, honesty and dedication to the & workforce, » wrote Norman Roule, former National Intelligence Manager for Iran in the Office of the Director or National Intelligence, describing Burns as a « strong choice. » / p> Bill Burns is deeply respected for his integrity, honesty, and commitment to the workforce at &. He will arrive with great respect for the work of the IC &. His significant overseas experience and &’s thoughtful approach to challenges make him a strong choice. https://t.co/91TmqLdepv
« He will bring with him a level of principled integrity that is badly needed in both Washington and on the world stage today, » wrote Ali Soufan, a former FBI oversight specialist. </ Bill Burns is one of the most decent and respected diplomats I have ever known. He will bring with him a level of principled integrity that is badly needed in both Washington and on the world stage today. Nice choice! https://t.co/90NhkR3Gcg
« I have a feeling this will actually be a very popular choice, » said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA intelligence officer. « He worked very well indeed with the CIA field service … in his overseas post. »
In my opinion, this will be a very popular choice in IC circles – a titan in the foreign affairs world who is in Much appreciated overseas – and he has worked very well indeed with CIA field workers (the sullenest crew) in his overseas postings. https://t.co/UkEl1H9QIK
Since his retirement in 2014, Burns has led the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.
He has received three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and the highest civilian awards from the Pentagon and the US intelligence community.
Burns attended LaSalle University in Philadelphia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a masters and doctoral degree in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied on a Marshall Scholarship.
Jeff Seldin has served as since March 2015 VOA national security correspondent, following developments in intelligence, counterterrorism, and cyber after covering the Pentagon. His current focus has been on terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda, while he has also dealt with election security in the US and developments in Russia, China, North Korea and other global hotspots.
Before joining VOA, Jeff reported on Washington news station WTOP and sister station Federal News Radio on government, political, business and consumer issues. He has also worked on radio and television in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Delaware and Syracuse, New York.
Jeff was born in New York City. His travels took him through the USA, much of Europe, parts of North Africa and the Middle East.
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