Biden makes inspired pick in career diplomat William Burns to head CIA

President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday that he has chosen a former career diplomat, William Burns, to head the Central Intelligence Agency. It's a very smart move. First and foremost, elevating someone from outside of the CIA to lead it means that the new director won't have been inculcated for decades with culture of the agency, a culture that's been toxic for decades. In particular, this nominee has no taint of torture or torture apologism anywhere near him, which every other CIA director since the Bush/Cheney years has. He can clean house as necessary.

The Burns nomination is getting support from the diplomatic and intelligence communities. "Bill Burns gained deep familiarity with high-level intelligence during the top posts of his exemplary diplomatic career and, perhaps more importantly, his extensive management experience in the foreign policy realm provides him a strong foundation for this new role," said David Priess, a former CIA officer and presidential briefer told the Washington Post. "This is a great pick," Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA operations officer who worked in the Middle East and against Russia told NBC News. "He's a titan of the foreign policy world, very well respected overseas, knows the intelligence community. Field officers really liked him."

I’m asking Ambassador Bill Burns to lead the Central Intelligence Agency because he’s dealt with many of the thorniest global challenges we face. As a legendary career diplomat, he approached complex issues with honesty, integrity and skill. That’s exactly how he’ll lead the CIA.

— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 11, 2021

His other Foreign Service posts include: "executive secretary of the State Department and special assistant to former secretaries of state Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright; minister-counselor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Moscow; acting director and principal deputy director of the State Department's policy planning staff; and special assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council." He has the institutional knowledge of decades of foreign policy, a key factor in restoring stability in the CIA.

When he retired from the Foreign Service in 2014, he didn't cash in by exploiting his overseas connections with some multinational corporation, he joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international affairs think tank based in Washington, where he currently serves as president. From that vantage point, he blasted Trump in an interview with NPR in 2019. "In my experience, what animates American foreign policy at our best has been a sense of enlightened self-interest—in other words, the view that our self-interest as a country, which we always are going to put first, is best served by making common cause. I think what President Trump has done is turned that on its head, so enlightened self-interest is a lot more about the 'self' part than the 'enlightened' part."

Another former CIA operations officer, John Sipher, told NBC that Burns is "respected by Biden and his team. He is a longtime practitioner and consumer (of intelligence). Knows all of our allies. Perfect choice."

from Daily Kos

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