Who is CIA’s New Director William Burns?
|Former Ambassador William Burns, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, at his desk in Washington on March 20, 2015.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file.|
William Burns’ education
William Burns speaks Russian, Arabic, and French.
He earned a bachelor’s in history from LaSalle University and master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.
He is a recipient of four honorary doctoral degrees and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
William Burns’ diplomat career
William J. Burns, 64, retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after a thirty-three-year diplomatic career. He holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, Career Ambassador, and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become Deputy Secretary of State.
Prior to his tenure as deputy secretary of state, Ambassador Burns served from 2008 to 2011 as under secretary of state for political affairs, Carnegieendowment introduced.
He was ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2001 to 2005, and ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001. His other posts in the Foreign Service 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.
At presents, Burns is the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an international affairs think tank.
William Burn’s legacy
Burns has served five US presidents (both Democrats and Republicans) in his more than 30-year long diplomatic career.
He holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service, career ambassador, and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become deputy secretary of state.
Burns led the delegation that held secret talks with Iran about the nuclear deal, which culminated in 2015 and is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Ambassador Burns is author of the bestselling book, The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal (Random House, 2019). The book was awarded the Douglas Dillon Book Award by the American Academy of Diplomacy. He is also a contributing writer at the Atlantic.
|US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (2nd L) talks with Vice Foreign Minister of South Korea Kim Kyou-hyun during their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Seoul January 21, 2014. (Reuters)|
He has been the recipient of three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and a number of Department of State awards, including three Secretary’s Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Honor Awards, the 2006 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Ambassadorial Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development, the 2005 Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking, and the 1991 James Clement Dunn Award for exemplary performance at the mid-career level. He has also received the highest civilian honors from the Department of Defense and the U.S. intelligence community.
In 1994, Ambassador Burns was named to Time Magazine’s list of “50 Most Promising American Leaders Under Age 40” and to its list of“100 Young Global Leaders.” In 2013, Foreign Policy named him “Diplomat of the Year.” He received the Anti-Defamation League’s Distinguished Statesman Award (2014), the Middle East Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), and the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Annenberg Award for Diplomatic Excellence (2015).
Ambassador Burns earned a bachelor’s in history from LaSalle University and master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. He is author of Economic Aid and American Policy Toward Egypt, 1955-1981 (SUNY Press, 1985).
Why Burns is chosen to serve CIA Director? Comments from other CIA forerunners?
|President-elected Joe Biden.|
Burns has also been critical of the Trump’s administration’s policies and condemned the killing of Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander and the long-serving head of the Quds Force. Soleimani was seen as a deadly adversary by America and its allies and was killed in a US strike at the Baghdad international airport in January 2020. Burns referred to his killing as a “significant strategic setback” in an interview he gave to The Irish Times.
“Bill Burns is an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure,” WSJ quoted Joe 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.”
"This is a great pick," said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA operations officer who worked in the Middle East and against Russia. "He's a titan of the foreign policy world, very well respected overseas, knows the intelligence community. Field officers really liked him."
"He is a wonderful choice," emailed Michael Hayden, who was President George W. Bush's CIA director.
Former CIA director John Brennan added, "Bill has an outstanding reputation. He worked with operators for years overseas as Chief of Mission," a term for ambassador. Ambassadors are usually kept well informed about CIA operations in their countries and often know more about them than almost anyone else, given the "need to know" restrictions on secret information.
"Amb. Burns is an inspired choice," tweeted Douglas London, a former CIA operations officer. "Not an intelligence practitioner but a sophisticated consumer with whom CIA worked closely" on Libya and the Iran nuclear deal.
London and others noted that Burns has a long relationship with Biden going back to when the president elect chaired the foreign relations committee in the Senate. And what the CIA wants more than anything else in its director is a smooth relationship with the president, the top intelligence customer.
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