Joe Biden last week moved CIA Director William Burns, one of his closest advisers on national security and foreign policy, to his Cabinet.

“Under his leadership, the CIA is delivering a clear-eyed, long-term approach to our nation’s top national security challenges,” Biden said in a statement.

Reports said the move is symbolic, but Burns has been a key figure in the Biden administration, particularly in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Reuters reports:

Bonnie Glaser, head of the Indo-Pacific program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the appointment reflected Biden’s confidence in Burns and his career experience.

Burns, who became the first career diplomat to lead the CIA in 2021, “has made a significant contribution to national security decision-making, especially with regard to Russia and China” Glaser said.

Burns is not the first CIA director to attain cabinet status. Former President Bill Clinton also named his CIA directors – John Deutch and George Tenet – to serve in his cabinet, as did Ronald Reagan with William Casey.

Daniel Byman, director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, saw it as testament to Burn’s “incredible effectiveness rather than a broader decision about the role of the CIA in cabinet.”

“Burns has been a very important part of Biden’s foreign policy, serving as of course an intelligence leader but also as a diplomat to Ukraine, the Middle East, and other parts of the world,” Byman said.

Although mainstream media says the move is ‘symbolic,’ it’s not unreasonable to think the CIA will have an even tighter grip on the Biden administration’s foreign policy.

AP noted:

A career diplomat and former ambassador to Russia, Burns was sent to Moscow months before the war to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin of Washington’s analysis.

In the nearly 18 months since Putin invaded, the U.S. has provided intelligence support to Ukraine along with weapons and ammunition. Burns has gone to Kyiv repeatedly to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He was also sent in November 2022 to warn Russia not to use nuclear weapons in the conflict.

Burns is known to meet with Biden regularly and often briefs him directly on Ukraine and other world issues. As a Cabinet member, he will serve alongside Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, whose office sets direction for the CIA and other members of the U.S. intelligence community.

“The President’s announcement today recognizes the essential contributions to national security the Central Intelligence Agency makes every day, and reflects his confidence in our work,” Burns said in a statement. “I am honored to serve in this role, representing the tremendous work of our intelligence officers.”

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