Role of the Director
The role of the Director of the CIA (D/CIA) is to manage the Agency’s intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign services. The D/CIA also oversees the management of foreign intelligence acquired by human sources, what we call HUMINT.
The CIA Director is nominated by the President with the advice, consent, and confirmation of the Senate. The D/CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence.
Director William J. Burns
Bill Burns was officially sworn in as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency on March 19, 2021, making him the first career diplomat to serve as Director. Director Burns holds the highest rank in the Foreign Service—Career Ambassador—and is only the second serving career diplomat in history to become Deputy Secretary of State.
Director Burns retired from the State Department U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 before becoming president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Director Burns is a crisis-tested public servant who spent his 33-year diplomatic career working to keep Americans safe and secure. Prior to his tenure as Deputy Secretary of State, he served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2008 to 2011; U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008; Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from 2001 to 2005; and U.S. Ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001. He was also Executive Secretary of the State Department and Special Assistant to former Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright; Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow; Acting Director and Principal Deputy Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff; and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.
Director Burns received three Presidential Distinguished Service Awards and the highest civilian honors from the Pentagon and the U.S. Intelligence Community. He is the author of the best-selling book, The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal (2019). He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from LaSalle University and master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.
Deputy Director of the CIA
Role of the Deputy Director
The CIA Deputy Director (DD/CIA) supports the Director in managing the Agency’s intelligence collection, analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, and liaison relationships with foreign services. The DD/CIA also exercises the Director’s powers in his or her absence or if the Director position becomes vacant.
Deputy Director David S. Cohen
David S. Cohen was officially sworn-in on January 20, 2021. Cohen previously served as Deputy Director of the CIA from 2015 to 2017. In that role, Cohen helped manage the Agency’s worldwide operations, oversee strategic modernization of the Agency, and lead foreign intelligence collection, analysis, and action. He directed special projects on new technologies and how best to work with companies to advance the CIA’s mission. At the end of his tenure, Cohen was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s highest honor. Before returning to the CIA in 2021, Mr. Cohen was a partner in the Washington, DC office of WilmerHale, where he led its Business and Financial Integrity Group.
Prior to his previous role at the CIA, Cohen served as Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Department of the Treasury, where he managed the policy, regulatory enforcement, and intelligence functions aimed at fighting illicit finance. He supervised the Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and developed and administered sanctions against Iran, Russia, North Korea, and terrorist organizations. He previously served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and in the Treasury’s general counsel’s office. Before joining the Treasury Department in 2009, Cohen practiced law for nearly 20 years.
Cohen earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University and his JD from Yale Law School.