In nominating former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns to be CIA director, President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a highly experienced diplomat to lead a hydra-headed agency.
But, if past is precedent, the highest hydras who head calcified fiefdoms at CIA can be expected to resist any real control from the top. They are more likely to try to co-opt top management or make end runs around it. This is not new.
Most senior CIA operations officers, in particular, have never been comfortable with meaningful supervision, lest it lead to reining them in or impinging on their ample budgets. With secrecy always in play (including strict application of the "need-to-know" principle), Burns will need a good deputy – preferably a strong outsider – to avoid being blind-sided – or diddled.