Spy chief gets a welcome endorsement


In a letter obtained by The Cipher Brief this week, former CIA directors and acting directors, including former director Gina Haspel, endorsed CIA Director Bill Burns in his new role as DCIA.

The letter (below) was originally submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversaw Burns. Confirmation session Last week, in a glowing review of endorsement.

“Bill Burns is the right person at the right time to lead the CIA,” former director Leon Panetta told committee members last week, “I trust Bill Burns to be a manager who supports them.”

Burns is expected to focus the agency’s efforts on traditional threat actors including Russia, North Korea, Iran and China, in addition to prioritizing other threats such as climate change and the Internet.

“It is a world in which familiar threats persist – from terrorism and nuclear proliferation, to aggressive Russia, provocative North Korea, and hostile Iran,” Burns told the panel last week. But it is also a world full of new challenges, with climate change and global health insecurity taking a heavy toll on the American people; Where cyber threats pose an increasing threat to our society; The hostile and predatory Chinese leadership constitutes our biggest geopolitical test. “

February 22, 2021

President Mark Warner (D-VA) Vice President Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear President Warner, Vice President Rubio, and members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:

As former CIA directors in both Democratic and Republican administrations, we are writing to endorse William J. Burns’ candidacy for Director of the CIA.

The CIA’s indispensable tasks of collection, analysis, and covert action are just as important today as they have been at any time in the CIA’s 73-year history due to the many global challenges facing the United States.

Ambassador Burns is one of the most experienced and respected national security professionals in our country, having served for 33 years as a Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador of the United States, Assistant Secretary of State, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and Deputy Secretary of State. He holds the highest rank in the diplomatic corps – a career ambassador – and was the second professional diplomat to serve in history to hold the position of deputy foreign minister.

Throughout his long and varied career, he has worked side by side with the men and women of the intelligence community, leveraging their analysis and the support of those who served in the embassies he led as head of mission. He entered government service during the Reagan administration in 1982 and served every president from then until 2014, both Republican and Democratic. From 1998-2001, he served as ambassador to Jordan, appointed by President Clinton. From 2005 to 2008, he served as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Russia. He served in the White House, ran multiple tours of Maine State, and won the highest civilian awards from the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. For the past six years, he has led the oldest international think-tank in the United States, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Ambassador Burns believes in the importance of the CIA’s mission in making national security decision-making for the United States, and will adhere to the long tradition of providing apolitical intelligence analysis to the president and other decision-makers. He will defend the women and men of the CIA against any attempt to politicize their work. It will prioritize investments in innovative technology as a key component of the CIA’s strategy for engaging with global competitors, including China. He will invest in, enhance, and diversify the agency’s workforce because he knows that espionage is a human endeavor and that people are the CIA’s greatest strength.

Above all, it will help the agency focus on the most important threats facing our country – an increasingly aggressive China, malicious activities from Russia, proliferation threats from Iran and North Korea, and cross-border threats of terrorism, cyberattacks and drug trafficking. . Ambassador Burns will be an excellent intelligence partner to our key allies and friends, drawing on an important strategic asset in the fight for global security.

Few people could be more prepared for the CIA director’s job than Ambassador Burns.

We support his candidacy and urge his speedy confirmation.


(In chronological order of service)

Judge William H.DCI, 1987-1991

Robert M GatesDCI, 1991-1993

John M. DeutchDCI, 1995-1996

George J TenetDCI, 1997-2004

John E. McLaughlinActing DCI, 2004

Porter GossDCI, 2004-2005; DCIA 2005-2006

General Michael in Hayden, DCIA, 2006-2009

Leon y Panetta, DCIA, 2009-2011

Michael J. MorrellDCIA Acting, 2011, 2012-2013

David H. Petraeus, DCIA, 2011-2012

John or Brennan, DCIA, 2013-2017

Gina Haspel, DCIA, 2018-2021

Read also Profile of CIA Bill Burns Written by veteran national security columnist Walter Pincus exclusively on Cipher Brief

Read more National Security Insights, Perspectives, and Analysis at Cipher Brief

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