George Bush, 1989-93

"Our First Line of Defense" Presidential Reflections on US Intelligence (U)


George Bush is the only former Director of Central Intelligence to become President. His experience as DCI gave him a keen understanding of the intelligence process and product.

With the demise of the Soviet Union, Bush declared that a "New World Order" had emerged, perhaps less dangerous than when the US and USSR had nuclear weapons targeted on one another, but dangerous nonetheless. The war against Iraq and the US intervention in Somalia made this point clear. Throughout his visits to CIA headquarters, President Bush emphasized that intelligence is still a vital commodity in the post-Soviet world.


    "A STRONG NATION REQUIRES a strong intelligence organization."

    President George Bush, News conference, 8 May 1991




    "BUT I AM CONFIDENT THAT history will honor the "cold warriors" of the Agency, of CIA: The men and women who struggled in the shadows, sent messages over the airwaves, smuggled forbidden books and magazines, all to help pierce the Iron Curtain. History will praise the secret strategies and operations, the personal valor and organizational excellence that gave our intelligence community success in its cold war mission.

    "[T]he challenge of the excellent men and women in Langley and elsewhere in the intelligence community, is to move beyond the cold war to the complex problems of the 21st century. Tomorrow's intelligence community will need to consolidate and extend freedom's gains against totalitarianism. Intelligence will enhance our protection against terrorism, against the drug menace. Intelligence will help our policymakers understand emerging economic opportunities and challenges. It will help us thwart anyone who tries to steal our technology or otherwise refuses to play by the competitive rules. It will help us seek peace and avert conflicts in regions of dangerous tension.

    "[I] am absolutely convinced--and I have a responsibility, I think, to the American people to see that this is true--but I am absolutely convinced that we have the finest intelligence service in the world. It is second to none. And as President of the United States of America I intend to keep it that way, to support it, to strengthen it, and to honor those who serve with such selfless dedication."

    President George Bush Remarks to former members of the OSS, 23 October 1991




    "WE NEED A STRONG intelligence community to consolidate and extend freedom's gains against totalitarianism. We need intelligence to verify historic arms reduction accords. We need it to suppress terrorism and drug trafficking. And we must have intelligence to thwart anyone who tries to steal our technology or otherwise refuses to play by fair economic rules. We must have vigorous intelligence capabilities if we're to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And so, this is truly a life-or-death mission.

    In sum, intelligence remains our basic national instrument for anticipating danger, military, political, and economic. Intelligence is and always will be our first line of defense, enabling us to ward off emerging threats whenever possible before any damage is done. It can also be a means of anticipating opportunities."

    President George Bush, Swearing-in ceremony of Robert Gates as DCI, 12 November 1991






    [AND] I THINK THAT THE WORK of this Agency and of the intelligence community through the years really probably will never get the credit that it deserves for effecting these changes [in the fall of the former Soviet Union], for your role in bringing about these changes and having Presidents hopefully make informed decisions on the world we face."

    President George Bush, Central Intelligence Agency, 8 January 1993


Historical Document
Posted: Mar 19, 2007 01:33 PM
Last Updated: Jul 07, 2008 02:01 PM