Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of George Bush as Director of Central Intelligence.

January 30, 1976

THANK YOU very, very much, Bill. And may I say at the outset that I fully concur with your observations and comments concerning the quality of the people, and I have no question whatsoever that they will give to George Bush, as they have to me, the fullest support and the greatest dedication.

Bill, as I told you and your family on Monday of my high regard for your 25 years of dedicated and distinguished service with the CIA at the time that I gave you the National Security Medal, I meant every word of it. You fully deserve it, and I wish to congratulate and compliment you for this outstanding record.

For good reason, obviously, you have the full support and deep feeling of all of the people here, and those of us not in the intelligence community are Just as grateful for the fine service you have given to your agency and to your country.

General Douglas .MacArthur once said that in war there is no substitute for victory. Let me assure you that in peace there is no substitute for intelligence. The time is long overdue for the men and women of the American intelligence community to receive the praise and the gratitude of the Nation that you have so conscientiously served. I have and I will continue to give voice publicly to that gratitude.

As every President since World War II, I depend on you as one of America's first lines of defense. Every morning, as a result of your efforts, an intelligence report is delivered to my desk which is complete, concise, perceptive, and responsible.

As a result, I am fully aware of the tremendous effort, the tremendous teamwork that goes into it and all of the other intelligence reports that I receive that are so vital to the making of sound policy decisions on national security. And let me express my personal gratitude for this fine work.

The appointment of George Bush as your new Director matches a good man with a good team. George Bush assumes the leadership of the intelligence community at a very critical point in its history--critical because national and international attention is focused on your work now as never before.

Because much of your work depends on secrecy and because secrecy adds a new aura of mystery and intrigue, there is the natural tendency for extraordinary attention to be paid to the intelligence community when allegations are made that it has not functioned as it should.

Past problems, any excesses, the abuses of the past have more than adequately been described. I am concerned about them as I know you are. But one thing is very, very certain: We cannot improve this agency by destroying it.

Let me assure you also I have no intention of seeing the intelligence community dismantled, its operations paralyzed, or its effectiveness undermined, The administration fully intends to safeguard the effectiveness of this agency,, the confidentiality of its information, and the lives and honor of its agents and employees.

The irresponsible release of classified information by people who Should know better must cease. A better balance must be struck between the right of the people to know and this country's commitment to survive and live in peace.

Accordingly, in the next few weeks after a great deal of study and consultation with experts in this field, I will announce my decisions on the Steps I believe necessary to strengthen our foreign intelligence operations. My actions will be designed to ensure that this Nation has what you and I know we must have--the best intelligence capacity in the world.

These actions will be consistent with two very fundamental principles. First, the United States must have a strong and effective capability to gather, to evaluate foreign intelligence and conduct necessary covert operations; and second, these activities must be conducted in a constitutional and lawful manner and never be aimed at our own citizens.

George Bush shares my commitment to these principles. As a former Member of Congress and as the son of a very great man, a distinguished statesman, the late Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, George has known all of his life that the people are sovereign and that their rights must be secure.

As a former representative of this Government to the People's Republic of China and as the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, George Bush is in step with world developments. I know from firsthand, personal experience he is a man of enormous capability, sound moral judgment, and has had an intense devotion to public service. He is fully prepared to guide the policy decisions of this agency and of the entire intelligence community with a depth and a breadth of knowledge that few others have.

George has said that he sees his first task as one of making a tremendous effort to restore public confidence in this fine agency. In that effort he has my full and total support.

I continue to believe that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency must have direct personal access to the President. George will have this access on a very regular basis and whenever special circumstances require.

With his leadership and with your help, I believe we can make this agency an instrument of peace and an object of pride for all of our people. That is my goal, and I know that each and every one of you share it with me.

Now it is my great privilege and pleasure to introduce Mr. Justice Stewart who will administer the oath of office.

Note: The President spoke at 11:07 a.m. in the auditorium at CIA headquarters, Langley, Va. He was introduced by outgoing CIA Director William E. Colby.

Potter Stewart, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, administered the oath of office.

Mr. Bush's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 12, p. 101).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of George Bush as Director of Central Intelligence. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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