Sunday, 24 January, 2021


Biden to Nominate Longtime US Diplomat Burns to Lead CIA

Mr William Burns also served as US ambassador to Oman from 1998 to 2001 Biden to nominate William Burns as CIA director, turning to a longtime diplomat to lead agency in post-Trump era
Bennie Garza | 13 January, 2021, 00:12

Burns also served as the USA ambassador to Russian Federation from 2005 to 2008, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs from 2001 to 2005 and ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001.

Mr. Biden's team has indicated that the Central Intelligence Agency director will not be a Cabinet-level position after President Trump had made the change to make it one.

Mr Burns retired from the US Foreign Service in 2014 after a 33-year career at the state department, serving under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

London and others noted that Burns has a long relationship with Biden going back to when the president elect chaired the foreign relations committee in the Senate. Burns has been vocal in his criticism of the Trump administration, penning several articles blasting what he's described as Trump's war on diplomacy.

In 2019, Burns wrote a scathing critique of what he called the Trump administration's "diplomatic malpractice", saying it had badly mistreated Marie Yovanovitch, the us ambassador in Ukraine whose removal from her post became a central topic in the president's impeachment and Senate trial.

Mr Burns, who holds a master's and doctoral degrees from Oxford University, also served as USA ambassador to Oman from 1998 to 2001.

The Biden team has said that the CIA director will not be a member of the cabinet, and that Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, will be the top intelligence official.

Burns is perhaps an unconventional choice for the CIA job that many thought would go to a career intelligence officer.

Burns will replace Gina Haspel, an agency veteran who became the first female CIA director after Trump moved Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state. Burns was the author of some of the most insightful State Department cables that were published by Wikileaks in 2010 and is widely respected throughout the national security community. Haspel, the first woman to lead the intelligence agency, faced criticism in her confirmation hearings over the secret "black site" she ran in Thailand where al-Qaeda suspects were held under the CIA's controversial "enhanced interrogation" program.

"I developed enormous respect for my colleagues in the CIA", Burns said in an online video statement Monday with Biden.

Biden, who takes office in less than two weeks, has asked the Senate to quickly confirm his national security nominees.

Michael Morell, a career intelligence officer and former acting director of the CIA whose name was floated to hold the top position under Biden, praised the pick, an indication that Burns likely will be embraced by the spy agency's rank and file. They'll have a smoother path to confirmation after Georgia's runoff races last week gave the Democrats narrow control of the upper chamber.

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