Presidential Reflections on U.S. Intelligence: George H.W. Bush
From President Truman on, each President has written a note of thanks to the men and women of the CIA. These notes are displayed with the President’s official photograph in the Presidential Gallery of the New Headquarters Building. This story is the second in a series about the relationship each president has had with the CIA. This article will focus on President George H.W. Bush.
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After the demise of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, President George H.W. Bush declared that a “New World Order” had emerged. However, President Bush cautioned the nation that while it would be less dangerous than before, it would be dangerous nonetheless. With Desert Shield in 1990 and the U.S. intervention in Somalia in 1992, President Bush’s point was made crystal clear.
A Need for Intelligence
During his term, President Bush made many trips to CIA Headquarters, always emphasizing that intelligence was still of great importance in the post-Soviet world.
“The 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.”
George Bush as DCI
George H. W. Bush is the first president to have served as the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). He served as DCI from January 1976 to January 1977. During Bush’s presidency, his experience as DCI gave him an insider’s knowledge of the Intelligence Community and how it operated.
When DCI Bush came to the Agency, the investigations of the Senate’s Church Committee —which rocked the Intelligence Community — were just coming to a close. DCI Bush was credited with restoring the morale of Agency employees during a time of great turbulence.
George Bush Center for Intelligence
In April 1999, the CIA Headquarters compound was designated the “George Bush Center for Intelligence” in honor of the former DCI and president. Agency employees, former Directors and Deputy Directors of Central Intelligence, colleagues, friends, and family members joined former President Bush at the dedication ceremony.
Carrying on the tradition started by President Truman following the Agency’s founding, President Bush wrote a note thanking the men and women of the CIA for their service to the United States. He is the 11th president to write a note for the CIA’s Presidents’ Gallery:
“To the CIA, an indispensable Agency — especially to the men and women who serve with such dedication and distinction.”
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