President-elect Joe Biden has chosen veteran diplomat William Burns to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
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 for International Peace.
Amid tumult in the State Department after Donald 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.
“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.
“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.”
National security team
Biden’s pick to lead the CIA comes as he races to get a national security team into place after the transition was delayed by Republican President Donald Trump contesting the Democrat’s November election victory.
Burns must be confirmed by the US Senate, in which Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly hold the majority.
Biden has asked Congress to confirm his national security team as close to his January 20 inauguration as possible, but still faces the prospect of having few permanent appointees in place when he takes office.
Biden, who served as vice president under Obama, has said he would restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned.