In the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, some of his picks to serve in high-profile roles are already causing some concern among his critics.
Among the notable examples is William Burns, the former vice president’s nominee to serve as the head of the CIA.
“Knowledge, judgment, and perspective”
In a statement on Monday, Biden described his pick as “an exemplary diplomat with decades of experience on the world stage keeping our people and our country safe and secure.”
Nevertheless, Burns’ prior comments on matters including the Iran nuclear deal have led some officials to question the decision.
“He shares my profound belief that intelligence must be apolitical and that the dedicated intelligence professionals serving our nation deserve our gratitude and respect,” Biden said in defense of the nominee.
The president-elect went on to declare that Burns “will bring the knowledge, judgment, and perspective we need to prevent and confront threats before they can reach our shores.”
As the Washington Examiner noted in a report this week, Burns has written about his role in establishing the aforementioned agreement with Iran, through which the United States sent billions of U.S. aid dollars to that nation’s regime. In his book The Back Channel, he described covert meetings with diplomats representing Iran.
“When we embarked on that first secret flight”
Burns stated that the “secrecy would help prevent opponents in both capitals from smothering the initiative in its crib — but it would carry future costs, feeding stab-in-the-back criticisms from some of our closest partners, particularly the Israelis, Saudis, and Emiratis.”
He seemed to hold Iranian negotiators Abbas Ravanchi and Majid Takht Araghchi in particularly high esteem.
“It was hard to imagine when we embarked on that first secret flight to Oman in early 2013 that diplomacy could resolve the Iranian nuclear issue,” wrote the former U.S. ambassador to Russian and Jordan.
Of course, President Donald Trump would go on to end the Iran deal — leading Burns to condemn the move as “a further blow to our own credibility.”
In a statement accompanying the May 2018 decision, Trump declared: “The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”