Joe Biden has chosen veteran diplomat William Burns as his candidate for the post of director of the CIA, filling one of the last national security windows before he takes office next week.
The move would lift the first career diplomat to the highest positions after repeated attacks and efforts to politicize the institutions of intelligence communities under Donald Trump.
Mr. Biden called Mr. Burns an “exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage” who shared his belief that intelligence must be “apolitical.”
Mr. Burns has held leadership positions in Democratic and Republican administrations. Working closely with Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s new national security adviser, he helped drive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and held overseas positions in Russia and Jordan.
He is now President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international affairs think tank where Mr. Sullivan was a non-resident senior fellow.
“Whether it’s cyber attacks emanating from Moscow, the challenge posed by China, or the threat we face from terrorists and other non-state actors, he has the experience and skills. to mobilize efforts across government and around the world to ensure the CIA is positioned to protect the American people, ”Biden’s team said in a statement.
Mr. Burns also worked closely with Antony blink – whom Mr Biden intends to appoint as secretary of state, and who succeeded Mr Burns as deputy secretary of state in 2015 – and other high-level members of his team.
Biden’s transition team statement described Mr. Burns as a “crisis-hardened public servant who has spent his career working to keep Americans safe.”
The veteran diplomat is recognized by his followers as reliable, wise and discreet. In presenting Mr. Burns with a Carnegie nuclear security event in 2017, Mr. Biden described him as a man of “enormous and enormous integrity” and a truly effective diplomat with “stupendous” knowledge.
If confirmed, Mr. Burns will replace CIA Director Gina Haspel. While Ms Haspel has been a member of Mr Trump’s cabinet breaking away from recent precedent, Mr Burns will instead serve as “a trusted advisor to the president and his team” and director of the National Security Council.
Mr Trump has regularly contradicted US intelligence assessments of North Korea, Iran and Russia, and once wrote on Twitter that they should “go back to school.” He then appointed a series of loyalists to high-level positions.
Mr. Biden announced his choice for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, in November. She will oversee all 18 U.S. intelligence agencies and serve as a member of Mr. Biden’s cabinet.