Tim Weiner, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times and author of National Book Award-winning “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA,” spoke on November 3, 2008, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Tim Weiner has written on intelligence for twenty years, and won the Pulitzer Prize for his work on secret national security programs. He has traveled to Afghanistan and other nations to investigate CIA covert operations first-hand. “Legacy of Ashes” is Weiner’s third book, and he is currently at work on his fourth: a history of the FBI.
“Intelligence is secret action aimed at understanding or changing what goes on abroad,” write Weiner. “President Dwight D. Eisenhower called it ‘a distasteful but vital necessity.’ A nation that wants to project its power beyond its borders needs to see over the horizon, to know what is coming, to prevent attacks against its people. It must anticipate surprise. Without a strong, smart, sharp intelligence service, presidents and generals alike can become blind and crippled. But throughout its history as a superpower, the United States has not had such a service.”
In his talk, co-hosted by the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum and the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, Weiner delivered a shocking assessment of profound failures in the CIA, from the administration of Harry Truman to George W. Bush. He also looked forward to the future of national intelligence under President Barack Obama.