Biden proposes veteran diplomat to head CIA

Washington, Jan 11 (efe-epa).- US President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday that he will nominate former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to run the CIA.

The career Foreign Service officer was ambassador to Russia under Republican President George W. Bush before holding the No. 2 post at the State Department from 2011-2014 in the administration of Democrat Barack Obama, who Biden served as vice president.

Since 2014, Burns has been president of the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.

“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,” the president-elect said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Burns, 64, will become the first career diplomat to lead the CIA.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 after earning a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. Following assignments as special assistant to Secretaries Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright, he was named US ambassador to Jordan in 1998 by President Bill Clinton.

Though he is regarded as an expert on Russia, Burns also has extensive experience in the wider Middle East and played a key role in the contacts that led eventually to the 2015 pact on limiting Iran’s nuclear program.

That agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, but outgoing President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the accord in 2018.

A three-time recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, Burns has also received the US military’s highest civilian honor.

Melvin Goodman, a 24-year veteran of the CIA and commentator on public affairs, urged Biden to select Burns for the top job at the Central Intelligence Agency in an open letter to the president-elect published Dec. 29.

“The appointment of Burns would send an important signal about the revival of public service, which has been demeaned for the past four years, and for the importance of the entire intelligence community, not simply the CIA,” Goodman wrote.

“Much of CIA’s difficulty over the past 40 years can be attributed to mediocre leadership,” the former intelligence analyst said. EFE


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