- The Washington Times - Friday, January 29, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The CIA had a noteworthy and celebrated visitor on Friday. Former President George H.W. Bush returned to the agency’s headquarters just outside the nation’s capital to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his swearing-in as Director of Central Intelligence, and almost to the day. Mr. Bush became “DCI” on January 30, 1976 - marking the end of several uneasy years for the agency which included leadership turnover and some serious challenges from the press.

“He is credited with restoring focus and boosting morale in the institution, and he remains one of the most beloved Directors in the agency’s history,” the CIA stated in a historic overview. “Although Bush’s tenure was short, it was a meaningful and helpful ‘calm between the storms’ for the Agency in the 1970s. He saw the integrity of a badly-bruised CIA when many in the public and even the government could not.”

Mr. Bush arrived at the CIA back in the day with an impressive resume. He had previously served as a Texas congressman, Republican National Committee chairman, Ambassador to the UN, and Special Envoy to China. He already had some empathy, however, for the CIA.

“One of my continuing concerns has been that with the prevailing sensationalism in stories about the Central Intelligence Agency, much of the essential work of that agency - work that is vital to our national defense and or national interests - has been largely ignored,” Mr. Bush once said in a 1977 speech.

His return this week was marked with good cheer, and a quiet moment before the CIA Memorial Wall marked with 111 plain stars, each representing a fallen CIA officer. The gathering also celebrated the launch of the newly-created George H.W. Bush Intelligence Officer awards, granted to CIA officers who “deliver on mission” and “deepen tradecraft,” among many other things.

“It is a great joy for me to return to a place that means so much to the defense and security of America. To be honest, I am not sure what impact I had on the CIA during my fascinating year helping to lead the Agency, but I can tell you the men and women there made a lasting and profound impact on me,” Mr. Bush said in a statement

“Then, as today, they offer the truest example of unheralded patriotism embodying service to country out of love for country. They never get the full recognition they deserve, but it did this 91-year-old heart good today to try to express to them the thanks the men and women of the CIA are surely due,” the former president said.

“This is your CIA in more than just name. Welcome home,” noted Director John O. Brennan.

There were kudos, too, from the White House.

“President George H.W. Bush is an extraordinary public servant who truly represents the best of our character as a nation. I wholeheartedly join Director Brennan in welcoming President Bush back to CIA Headquarters and in thanking him for his decades of wise and selfless service to our country,” said President Obama.

The CIA headquarters compound in Virginia was named the George Bush Center for Intelligence in 1999.

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