WASHINGTON (AP) — William Burns, a well-known figure in diplomatic circles around the world, is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to lead the CIA, a selection likely to be embraced by the rank-and-file at the nation’s premier spy agency.
A former ambassador to Russia and Jordan, Burns, 64, had a 33-year career at the State Department under both Republican and Democratic presidents. He rose through the ranks of the diplomatic corps to become deputy secretary of state before retiring in 2014 to run the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.
He would succeed Gina Haspel, the first female CIA director, who guided the agency under President Donald Trump. Trump frequently disparaged the assessments of U.S. spy agencies, especially about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to help his campaign.
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.
“I’ve known Bill Burns for decades. ... His command of the issues, his deep respect for intelligence, and his care for people will ensure it,” Morell tweeted.
Trump often placed quote marks around the word intelligence in his tweets, implying that he doesn’t agree with the term, and has fired several career intelligence professionals in favor of loyalists, including some with little to no experience in the field.
Amid tumult in the State Department after Trump took office in 2017, Burns held his tongue until last year when he began writing highly critical pieces of the Trump administration's policies in Foreign Affairs and other publications. Burns has been a staunch advocate of rebuilding and restructuring the foreign service, positions Biden has aligned...