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Biden elevates CIA director to Cabinet, a symbolic nod to central role

<i>Tom Williams/Pool/Reuters</i><br/>In this February 2021 photo
Tom Williams/Pool/Reuters
In this February 2021 photo

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden is elevating CIA Director Bill Burns to his Cabinet, a symbolic measure that nonetheless represents the major role he has played in national security amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Under his leadership, the CIA is delivering a clear-eyed, long-term approach to our nation’s top national security challenges – from tackling Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, to managing responsible competition with the People’s Republic of China, to addressing the opportunities and risks of emerging technology,” Biden wrote in a statement.

“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,” he said.

The CIA has been central in the administration’s strategy toward Russia during the invasion of Ukraine, including downgrading and releasing intelligence surrounding the invasion in the leadup to the conflict last year.

Burns has traveled to Ukraine and Moscow, along with other nations, as part of the administration’s approach to the war.

The role of CIA director has been in and out of presidential cabinets over the past several years. Former President Donald Trump’s CIA directors – Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel – were Cabinet-level posts, but Biden chose not to include the post in his Cabinet when taking office.

“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. It is also an honor to serve alongside our exceptional intelligence community colleagues, under the leadership of DNI Avril Haines.”

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