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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991

Remarks at a Presentation Ceremony for the National Security Agency Worldwide Awards in Fort Meade, Maryland

1991-05-01

The President. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you for this warm welcome. I can't understand you all being in such a good mood, being out here since 9:00 a.m. this morning. [Laughter] But you sure make me feel welcome. Hey, cut your complaining, will you? [Laughter]

Admiral Studeman -- and, please, you all be seated. Sorry about that. [Laughter] But let me salute Admiral Studeman, the other leaders of this great organization, and also Bill Webster, the DCI, and simply say to all the dedicated professionals here at NSA, it is my great pleasure to share with you this very special day.

I also want to salute the Congressman from this district -- you can't miss him over there -- Congressman McMillen standing here, who is a wonderful supporter of your work, too. Tom, we're glad you're here.

The admiral said this visit is a bit of a departure from the routine here at NSA. This isn't exactly the kind of place where you can pull off a surprise party. [Laughter] But I'm very pleased to be out here. In the past couple of months I've had the privilege of meeting, as they came home, with many members of Desert Storm -- brave men and women who served over there, dedicating themselves to the cause of peace in the Persian Gulf.

Today, I wanted especially to come here to express my appreciation to you, the thousands of men and women, civilian and military, of the United States SIGINT system. From the time we took action to the moment the fighting stopped, the world witnessed a display of courage and competence that made every American proud. But what America and the world saw in Desert Storm was just the tip of the iceberg. Our success in the Gulf could, quite literally, never have happened without the dedication that's on display right here through all the days and all the nights of Desert Storm.

As our troops go home to friends and family, they do go home as heroes, and they've earned every parade and every pat on the back. They know and I know that they owe a debt to you. That's why I really wanted to come out here today -- to salute you, the unsung heroes of Desert Storm.

My association with NSA goes back many years. And over the years I've come to appreciate more and more the full value of SIGINT. As President and Commander in Chief, I can assure you, signals intelligence is a prime factor in the decisionmaking process by which we chart the course of this nation's foreign affairs.

Desert Storm was a team effort on many fronts -- military, diplomatic, economic. NSA and the service cryptologic elements gave us the critical intelligence we had to have to operate effectively on every front. The information all of you provided enabled me and my key advisers to have a sound understanding of Saddam Hussein's capabilities and solid information about the situation on the ground.

It is the nature of your work to shun the spotlight. Where others step forward to the fanfare and public acclaim, your reward is simply quiet pride. And I am here today on behalf of the American people -- the many millions who cannot know the contributions you make to their safety, security, and freedom every single day -- to convey the thanks of a grateful nation.

Once again, my most sincere thanks to each and every one of you for a job well done. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 10:25 a.m. outside the NSA building. In his opening remarks, he referred to Vice Adm. William O. Studeman, Director of the National Security Agency; William H. Webster, Director of Central Intelligence; Representative C. Thomas McMillen; and President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

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