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The Only Good CIA Director Is No CIA Director

Biden’s nominee for CIA director has gotten some relatively good press from some outlets on the “Left.” But William Burns will lead an agency that exists only to help impose U.S. imperialist rule around the world. Nothing’s going to change.

Samuel Karlin

January 19, 2021
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Incoming CIA direct William Burns wears a suit and stares off camera, smiling slightly.
Image: AP/Kim Hong-Ji

On Monday, January 11, Joe Biden nominated former diplomat William Burns as his pick for the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Burns, like most of Biden’s cabinet picks, was immediately praised throughout the bourgeois media. Surprisingly, even some news outlets more inclined to scrutinize intelligence agencies, such as Consortium News and CounterPunch, wrote pieces depicting Burns in a positive light.

Burns does seem to lack the blatant abundance of red flags that came with all of Biden’s other national security and foreign policy picks, such as Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken or Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin. Still, Burns will head the CIA, arguably the most brutal of the United States’s many violent intelligence agencies. No CIA head is worth feeling relieved over.

Burns has been a long-time advisor to Biden, serving as the Deputy Secretary of State to the Obama administration from 2011 to 2014. For all the talk of moving Biden left, his desire to surround himself with names from the Obama years shows that he stands by the policies of his time as Vice President, including mass surveillance programs and regime change throughout the Middle East.

Biden said that Burns “shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect.”

Of course, intelligence is not apolitical. The CIA has always existed as a tool for U.S. regime change and psychological warfare. In using the term “apolitical,” Biden is likely referring to much of the infighting of intelligence communities that marked Trump’s time in office. Without the dysfunction of the Trump administration, the CIA and other intelligence agencies will likely have an easier time criminally subjecting the world to the desires of U.S. capital. Burns’s CIA will not be “apolitical” for the oppressed in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and any of the other regions where the CIA uses violence and manipulation to expand access to foreign markets.

You might also be interested in: Iran 1953: How the CIA Orchestrated an Imperialist Coup

Despite the celebration around Burns’s nomination, he poses a threat to the international working class like  other members of the incoming administration. With the well-documented threat of the CIA, leftists should remember that the only CIA worth a sigh of relief is one that’s been fully abolished.

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Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.

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