© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden looks at the Memorial Wall as he is introduced to speak by Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, U.S., July 8, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Andrea Shalal and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday said he had asked CIA Director William Burns to become a member of his cabinet, elevating one of his closest advisers on national security and foreign policy.

“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, referring to Burns’ approach to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and U.S. competition with China.

The move was reported earlier by the Washington Post, which said it was largely symbolic and would not give Burns any new authorities.

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,” he said. “Biden wants to draw on Burns’ knowledge and skill as he shapes his foreign policy.”

A White House official said it was common for presidents to vary the agencies represented in their cabinets.

For instance, former President Barack Obama elevated the head of the Small Business Administration to the cabinet and Clinton added Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Witt to his cabinet.



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