Biden elevates CIA Director William Burns to Cabinet-level position

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President Biden on Friday announced he has asked CIA Director William J. Burns to become a member of his Cabinet, making him a key adviser on national security issues.

The move does not grant Mr. Burns any new powers or authority. Instead, it is a largely symbolic appointment aimed at underscoring his importance and influence in the Biden administration.

In a statement, Mr. Biden said Mr. Burns will bring “a clear-eyed, long-term approach to our nation’s top national security challenges.” The president ticked off a list of issues in which Mr. Burns‘s advice would be invaluable, including Russia’s war against Ukraine, China’s military aggression and the risks of artificial intelligence.

“Bill has always given me clear, straightforward analysis that prioritizes the safety and security of the American people, reflecting the integral role the CIA plays in our national security decision-making at this critical time,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Burns will now participate in Cabinet meetings alongside Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and various secretaries and heads of federal agencies.

It is not the first time a president has elevated a CIA director to their Cabinet. President Trump made his CIA Director Mike Pompeo and, later CIA Director Gina Haspel part of his Cabinet. 

When Mr. Biden took office, he decided not to include Mr. Burns on the Cabinet because the director of national intelligence already was a member and the head of the administration’s intelligence community.

Mr. Burns served as U.S. ambassador to Russia between 2005 and 2008. He was nominated in January 2021 to serve as Mr. Biden’s CIA director and was unanimously confirmed in the Senate in March 2021. 

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