Jimmy Carter, 1977-81

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


Intelligence issues occupied a great deal of President Jimmy Carter's attention. He and his Director of Central Intelligence Adm. Stansfield Turner worked to redefine the relationship between Congress and the Intelligence Community, and in Executive Order 12036 Carter gave his DCI increased authority to manage the Intelligence Community.

In 1979 Iranian militants seized the US Embassy in Tehran after the Shah fled and Ayatolloh Khomeni declared Iran to be an Islamic republic. In December of the same year Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. CIA gave the Carter administration extensive support in both crises.


    "[BUT] WE HAVE GOT TO HAVE a good intelligence system in order to protect the security of our country. We sometimes relax too much in peacetime. We've got to establish this relationship on a permanent, workable basis while we are at peace. It's one of the best means to make sure we don't have war. And if we should ever be in danger in a time of crisis, it's too late to build up an adequate intelligence community, including our worldwide system of information."

    President Jimmy Carter Department of State, 24 February 1977


    "[IT'S] DIFFICULT FOR SOMEONE in my position to distinguish between the appearance of things and the actual facts, the reality of them. And you do a superb job in trying to bring to me and others who make opinions and then make decisions about what our Nation should do in the pursuit of our own goals and purposes, in the enhancement of our own ideals and principles.

    "I'd like to say in closing that I appreciate what you are, what you do, the high professionalism, training, education, experience that you bring to your job and which you demonstrate every day with your good work, the honesty and integrity that you present to me and to your other superiors, to the Congress, to the public for critical examination."

    President Jimmy Carter, Central Intelligence Agency 16 August 1978




    "[IT] IS ESSENTIAL THAT I AND those who aid me in the formulation of our Nation's foreign policy make our decisions on the basis of accurate information about the capabilities and intentions of other countries and of forces that shape world events."

    President Jimmy Carter, 14 October 1980


    "OUR NATIONAL INTERESTS ARE critically dependent on a strong and effective intelligence capability. We will maintain and strengthen the intelligence capabilities needed to assure our national security. Maintenance of and continued improvements in our multi-faceted intelligence effort are essential if we are to cope successfully with the turbulence and uncertainties of today's world."

    President Jimmy Carter, State of the Union address, 16 January 1981




Historical Document
Posted: Mar 19, 2007 01:33 PM
Last Updated: Jul 07, 2008 02:00 PM