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DCI Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony

Remarks by DCI George J. Tenet at Swearing-In Ceremony
by Vice President Gore

July 31, 1997

I am honored, Mr. Vice President, by the opportunity that you and the President have given me to lead our country's Intelligence Community--particularly as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Central Intelligence Agency. As I assume this position, I haven't the slightest doubt what you, the President, and the American people expect from me and the exceptional men and women that I will lead. In pursuit of our mission, you must know that first and foremost:

  • That the Intelligence Community is working to protect the lives of Americans everywhere.

  • That we are working to protect our men and women in uniform and to ensure that they dominate the battlefield whenever they are called and wherever they are deployed.

  • That we are protecting Americans from threats posed by terrorists, drug traffickers, and weapons of mass destruction.

  • That we are providing our diplomats with the critical insights and foreknowledge they need to advance American interests and avert conflicts.

  • And, that we are focusing not just on threats but also on opportunities--opportunities to act before danger becomes disaster and opportunities to create circumstances favorable to American interests.

These are issues on which we simply cannot afford to fail.

In short, Mr. Vice President, we will meet these challenges head on with the highest standards of personal integrity and professional performance. We can and will take the risks necessary to protect our country, but we also pledge to never act recklessly. We are accountable to you, the President, and to the American people for all that we do.

A special part of the privilege you have given me is the opportunity to lead the men and women of the Intelligence Community. They are simply unmatched in their dedication, drive, and devotion to duty. They bring not only their expertise to work, but a deep conviction that national security is neither a nine to five job nor just a career, but a public service of grave importance.

Working with them every day has driven home for me a vital point: as important as sophisticated technology is to our work, intelligence is primarily a human endeavor. And so, for me, our people must always come first.

My goal for our people is a simple one: That they should consistently be the nation's premier experts in their field--whether they are engaged in analysis, operations, or scientific and technical pursuits.

If we--your intelligence team--tackle these challenges with energy, decisiveness, conviction, and integrity--we will live up to the high expectations that you, the President, and the American people rightly have for your intelligence service. We will be the best intelligence service in the world. As Director of Central Intelligence, I will aspire to nothing less.

Implicit in all that I have said are four commitments that will guide me every day that I serve in this office:

  • To the President, you, Mr. Vice President, and all others who rely on our Nation's intelligence capabilities--We will deliver intelligence that is clear, objective, and without regard for political consequences. Getting it right in circumstances that require accurate information and sound judgment will always be my highest priority.

  • To the Congress--you can count on my honesty and candor. What distinguishes our intelligence service from all others is the link with the American people that comes through strong Congressional oversight--it is vital to maintaining the trust and faith of our citizens. And I will not violate this trust.

  • To the men and women I will lead over the next several years--We will be partners. I've told you that I want leaders who will take care of their people. This starts with me. I will care about your work at all levels, be there when you need me, and stand up for you when times get tough. Together we will ensure that American intelligence is the nation's first line of defense in a world that still holds plenty of surprise and danger.

  • To the American people I would say--Your intelligence service is committed to protecting our country from all those who would threaten it. We will honor the trust that you have placed in us, and we will serve you with fidelity, integrity, and excellence.

Finally, let me close on a personal note by thanking a number of very special people, some who are here today and some who are not.

  • Senator John Heinz gave me my first job in Government. He taught me about the importance of public service and is someone I miss very much.

  • Senator Pat Leahy took a chance and brought me to the Senate Intelligence Committee. This whole journey really started with him. And over the years he has always been a source of friendship and wise counsel.

  • Senator David Boren--or should I say President David Boren of the University of Oklahoma--my friend and mentor for whom I have the highest personal regard and affection and without whom I would not be here today.

  • Sandy Berger and Tony Lake who gave me the great opportunity to serve you and President at the National Security Council. They will be my friends for life.

  • And the great John Deutch--one of the most remarkable people I have ever known--who asked me to serve by his side.

  • And finally--You Mr. Vice President along with President Clinton who have honored me with your faith and trust.

Along the way--there are hundred of colleagues, co-workers, and friends-who always made me look better than I deserved.

Finally, I want to say a few words about my family--because I have a great family.

  • First, my father, who is no longer with us. He came to this country just before the great depression. With no money or family he built a life based on hard work, love of country and family. He took nothing for granted--I am guided by his example and I will take nothing for granted in protecting this country and this democracy.

  • My twin brother Bill--who after my Dad's passing has carried me and supported me every step of the way.

  • My mother, who is here today, fled Southern Albania at the end of World War II on a British submarine to escape communism--never to see her family again. She experienced first hand a threat that became a vivid and life changing reality. Her courage strengthens me always.

  • And finally, when I go home at night--I am greeted at the front door by the two most wonderful people in the world--the greatest 10 year old a dad can have--John Michael--who is my pride and joy, and my wife Stephanie who has been my conscience and source of energy for 16 years.

So Mr. Vice President, I once again thank you, my friends, my family and the men and women of the Intelligence Community--you honor me by being here today. Thank you.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 03, 2007 08:56 PM
Last Updated: Jun 20, 2008 07:59 AM