It's named for his dad, but if his visit to Langley on Thursday was any indication, current President Bush owns the CIA.
In advance of vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush visited the CIA HQ to receive briefings on the war on terror and the situation in Georgia. But instead of a quickie stop, he stayed for over two hours and met with many of the agency's workers during lunch. In his fifth visit to the CIA since becoming president, Bush was joined by CIA Director Mike Hayden and Deputy Director Steve Kappes to meet with counterterrorism experts and then political and military analysts on Georgia and Russia.
Bush then walked into the agency's cafeteria where he was greeted with a standing ovation by the 2,000 employees inside. Clearly pleased, he told them, "I appreciate your service more than you could possibly know."
Bush then took a seat at a table with two dozen junior employees. They included analysts, clandestine operatives, scientists and engineers, and support personnel. In between bites, he asked them about their jobs and where they have served overseas. One analyst, who played a key role for the CIA in identifying the nuclear reactor that was being built in Syria with North Korean assistance, gave the president a bronze commemorative coin that Hayden had presented to each agency employee who was directly involved in that intelligence effort.
The 3-inch diameter coin was inscribed with, "Syria-North Korea Project" and the words, "No Core, No War."
During the visit, which went two hours longer than scheduled, we hear that the president shook hands, gave hugs, and signed autographs, even on $5 and $10 bills some employees gave him for signature because they didn't have another piece of paper handy.
As he left, Bush praised the agency. "It's really important for the people who work here to understand the significant — the significance of the contributions they're making to secure the homeland. The people here work long and hard hours. They're smart, capable, and they deserve the nation's thanks," said Bush.
Hayden issued his own inside memo to employees: "Supporting our government with timely, accurate intelligence is our job 24/7, but it isn't every day that we hear directly from our top customer just how important our work is—and that he stays two hours longer than scheduled. Thank you for ensuring that CIA remains central to the security of our nation, and for making this visit such a great success."