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CIA Nominee William Burns Appears Before Senate Intelligence Committee for Confirmation Hearing

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William Burns
William Burns Director CIA

William Burns, President Biden’s nominee to lead the CIA, said in his opening statement during his Senate confirmation hearing that politics should not interfere with intelligence work, CNN reported Wednesday.

"I learned that good intelligence, delivered with honesty and integrity, is America's first line of defense. I learned that intelligence professionals have to tell policymakers what they need to hear, even if they don't want to hear it," Burns told Senate Intelligence Committee members Wednesday. "And I learned that politics must stop where intelligence work begins." 

Burns told lawmakers how he would deal with China if confirmed as CIA director.

"For CIA, that will mean intensified focus and urgency — continually strengthening its already-impressive cadre of China specialists, expanding its language skills, aligning personnel and resource allocation for the long-haul, and employing a whole-of-agency approach to the operational and analytical challenges of this crucial threat," he said. 

He cited the importance of “firmness and consistency” in responding to Russian aggression.

Burns is president of the international affairs think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He served during the Obama administration as deputy secretary of state. His more than 30-year career in foreign service included time as ambassador to Jordan and Russia.