Remarks By George Bush at the Dedication Ceremony
At the Dedication Ceremony for the George Bush Center for Intelligence
April 26, 1999
Mr. Director, thank you for those overly kind remarks.
Let me thank the great team that we have running CIA. I think all the former Directors here would agree that in George Tenet we have one of the very, very best.
May I thank General Gordon with whom I worked closely when I was President of the United States, the Deputy here, who is doing a superb job, too.
I want to thank the Marines for showing up.
I, of course, want to thank Rob Portman [Rep. Rob Portman, (R.Ohio) who introduced the legislation to name the CIA Compound after President Bush.]
I told Barbara that all of this hoopla was a little overwhelming, and she knew exactly the right thing to say. She always does, my loving wife after 54 years, 6 months-whatever it is. (Laughter) Who's counting? "George, just remember," she said, "They only name things after you when you're dead or really old." (Laughter)
You mentioned the parachute jumps, Director. I landed very proud. Jumped out of the plane at 12,500 feet, fell at 120 miles an hour for 7500 feet, pulled the rip cord, floated down into the tranquil sands of Yuma, Arizona. And said to my wife, "Now what do you think?" She said, "I haven't seen a free fall like that since the '92 election." (Laughter) Anyway, she is thrilled to be here.
And of course I want to thank Senator Shelby and Senator Kerry and Representative Goss and Norm Dicks who I don't think is here, and every other Member of Congress who had a hand in making this wonderful event in my life happen.
I would be remiss not to single out Rob Portman who served on my team when I was privileged to be President. And if I'd known he was going to do this, I think we could have given him a nicer office there at the White House. (Laughter) Thank you, Rob, very much, and all of you who had a hand in this wonderful, wonderful event in my life.
I want to thank, as a matter of fact, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. You know I had some disagreements with Congress during my four years. What President doesn't? And after a few dust-ups, I didn't know how such a vote in the Congress might go on this high honor. Part of me expected it to be - this is a true anecdote - like the vote in Midland, Texas, when the School Board decided to name a local school after me. That was just a few years ago, I'd just left the White House. The vote was three to two. It's true. (Laughter) The two guys that voted "no" had a lot of excuses, but anyway, that was it. But this was much nicer. (Laughter) You guys touched my heart.
So to George Tenet, our great Director, and everyone at CIA, all I can say is that the gratitude in my heart literally knows no bounds.
I left here some 22 years ago after a limited tenure, and my stay here had a major impact on me. The CIA became part of my heartbeat back then, and it's never gone away. In my opinion, of the many agencies comprising the Executive Branch, the men and women of CIA - many of whom I'm privileged to say are here - exemplified the best about public service, here service to country comes first. You're ever vigilant, always looking out for the nation's best interests, but rarely getting the credit that you deserve. You never sit at the head table; never get singled out. You are there out of love of country.
This is the full measure of devotion that you bring to your work, and that Barbara and I tried to bring to ours. I got some things right, and I'm sure I could have done many things better. But I hope it will be said that in my time here, and in the White House, I kept the trust and treated my office with respect. I know you do that every single day, and I know I tried. (Applause)
I also know that I walked in here 24 years ago untutored in the arts of intelligence. I see my first Deputy, Dick Walters, sitting there. He will certainly attest to that. And he helped me. You had every reason to be suspicious of this untutored outsider who had - though he came out of a non-political post in China, spent a lot of my time in partisan politics. I understood the anxiety and concerns on Capitol Hill about that. But this Agency gave me their trust from Day One.
Your mission is different now than it was back then. The Soviet Union is no more. Some people think, "what do we need intelligence for?" My answer to that is we have plenty of enemies. Plenty of enemies abound. Unpredictable leaders willing to export instability or to commit crimes against humanity. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, narco-trafficking, people killing each other, fundamentalists killing each other in the name of God. These and more. Many more. As our analysts know, as our collectors of intelligence know - these are our enemies. To combat them we need more intelligence, not less. We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country. (Applause)
Even though I'm a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.
And when it comes to the mission of CIA and the Intelligence Community, George Tenet has it exactly right. Give the President and the policymakers the best possible intelligence product and stay out of the policymaking or policy implementing except as specifically decreed in the law.
Because of your support - the same support given to a fledgling DCI 24 years ago - George Tenet is able to do that. Just that. Able to provide the President the best intelligence possible in the entire world.
For Douglas MacArthur, Duty, Honor, Country represented a great moral code of conduct and chivalry for those who guard this beloved land. That's true here at CIA. It's true all across the Intelligence Community - the huge community that comes together under the leadership of the Director. This complex might well have been named for more deserving men who preceded me as DCI. You think of Bill Donovan or Allen Dulles or Dick Helms here with us today. Giants in their field. Or it might have been named for people like Welch, or Buckley [CIA officers Richard Welch and William Buckley killed in the line of duty.] And like all of them, and so many more, I'm proud to have served with the men and women of CIA. (Applause)
It has been said that "patriotism is not a frenzied burst of emotion, but rather the quiet and steady dedication of a lifetime." To me, this sums up CIA - Duty, Honor, Country. This timeless creative service motivates those who serve at Langley and in intelligence all across the world.
It is an honor to stand here and be counted among you. Thank you very, very much.