President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday he’s chosen William Burns to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
“The American people will sleep soundly with him as our next CIA Director,” Biden said in a statement. “Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure.”
A former ambassador to Russia and Jordan, Burns most recently served as deputy secretary of state under President Barack Obama and has held other diplomatic posts during 33 years in Republican and Democratic administrations.
Though a career diplomat, there’s little in his record to suggest the 64-year-old has experience in the intelligence community.
Burns would be the first career diplomat to serve as CIA director.
Even the AP confessed, “Burns is perhaps an unconventional choice for the CIA job that many thought would go to a career intelligence officer.”
And why? The intelligence community is comprised entirely of civilians. As a diplomat, his resume is from a world that’s opposed to what the CIA does. Yes, Burns has traveled the world, “building bridges” and “establishing relationships” with those on the global stage. But the agency exists to keep an eye on bad actors from foreign countries (and our own citizens who seek to do harm). Diplomats seek to establish trust, whereas secrecy is paramount for intelligence agents working to undermine those wishing to damage the United States.
Burns clearly has the wrong experience for this job.
Maybe something else, however, endeared him to Team Biden.
Still, Burns is more qualified to be secretary of state, and maybe even a better option than Anthony Blinken. But for the work required at CIA? This appears to be another political appointment and — coming off the bizarre Gina Raimondo choice for Commerce last week — makes me wonder who is actually advising the president-elect on these picks.
A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.