Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nick Burns, who is the third-highest ranking official in the State Department, right after Secretary Rice and Deputy Secretary Negroponte, announced that he is retiring today.
I am sad to see him leave. He is career Foreign Service, and in that is unusual because often Secretaries of State will put political appointees in that position. I served as his control officer when he visited Jerusalem, which incidently was where he served his first tour as a Junior Officer. We had FSNs (Foreign Service Nationals, or locally-hired staff) who had been there long enough to remember him. In addition to his meetings, he also took the time to see people he knew from when he served there and to visit places he had seen during his tour.
I found him to be both knowledgible and personable. Despite his high rank in a very hierarchical organization, I found him very approachable. And from my view from below, it seems to me that he is outstanding in his job.