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CIA Declassification Event Traces the Evolution of the Director of Central Intelligence

September 21, 2012



On September 13, 2012, three former Central Intelligence Agency Directors, the CIA Chief Historian, and a panel of former congressional staffers and academics discussed the evolution of the position of CIA Director at the George Mason University School of Public Policy on its Arlington, Virginia campus.

The symposium, entitled “Intelligence, Policy, and Politics: The DCI, the White House and Congress,” marked the release of a collection of declassified CIA documents detailing the day-to-day decisionmaking and challenges faced by the first four Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI), Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, and General Walter Bedell Smith.

The symposium featured a panel of three former CIA Directors—General Michael Hayden (USAF, Ret), Porter Goss, and R. James Woolsey, each of whom shared personal perspectives of occupying one of the more challenging jobs in Washington.  General Hayden—a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University—offered keynote remarks.

Hayden explained the relationship between intelligence officers—in this case the CIA Director—and decisionmakers. An intelligence officer, Hayden said, should be “fact based, inductive, somewhat pessimistic…dealing with the world as it is.” Hayden emphasized the role the CIA Director plays in helping decisionmakers set the right and left-hand boundaries of a policy discussion. Woolsey recounted his experiences running the CIA during the early 1990s, including his role in negotiating the intelligence budget. Goss shared his philosophy on the relationship between the CIA Director and the President, and what it was like to head the CIA in the post-9/11 environment.

Earlier in the day, CIA Chief Historian David Robarge presented on the leadership styles of the DCIs—which is the title the CIA Director (DCIA) held until the creation of the Director of National Intelligence in 2005—and the DCIAs up to former CIA director and now Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. An article by Robarge detailing the leadership styles of the DCIs from 1946-2005 appears in the event booklet. Robarge was followed by a panel of former Congressional staffers who discussed the relationship between the CIA and the Hill.

The event and declassification of more than 800 documents are the work of the CIA’s Historical Collections Division (HCD), part of CIA’s Information Management Services. HCD seeks to identify and declassify documents that detail the Agency’s analysis and activities relating to historically significant topics and events.

A publication with more information on the documents is available in the Historical Collections section on The documents will be available online in the upcoming weeks. Photos of the events are on the CIA Flickr page [external link disclaimer].

Historical Document
Posted: Sep 21, 2012 12:06 PM
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2013 01:37 PM