Richard Kerr served in the CIA from 1960 to 1992, including three years as deputy director for intelligence (1986-’89) as deputy director (1989-’92) and a few months as acting director in 1991. In 2003, at the suggestion of Donald Rumsfeld, a group was put together to review the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program, and Kerr was asked to head it. “The secretary of defense actually wrote a letter to the director of central intelligence and said, ‘It would be useful to have a study … of what intelligence said up to the point of the war and then use the ground truth to kind of test those assumptions and those judgments,'” Kerr recalls. His group ultimately published four reports (two of which remain classified): The first looked at pre-war intelligence on Iraq; the second evaluated the raw intelligence that went into the infamous National Intelligence Estimate; the third assessed the strengths and weaknesses of intelligence analysis; and the fourth suggested improvements. Here, Kerr discusses his findings; his thoughts on the proper role and the future of the CIA; and his impressions of Dick Cheney and George Tenet.

In Unclassified: My Life Before, During, and After the CIA, Richard James Kerr, former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, recounts how he joined the Agency fresh out of college as a GS7 analyst/clerk. During his more than 30 years, Kerr rose through the ranks quickly, serving in all four directories–Intelligence, Operations, Administration, and Science/Technology (reaching Director level in both Intelligence and Administration) — before eventually becoming Deputy Director of the CIA (DDCI).
Kerr was responsible for many highly visible tasks such as providing the US President with a daily briefing of CIA intelligence. He was known for his stabilizing influence during his tenure and his ability to address countless “hot button” issues. He also established a reputation for his integrity and objectivity when presenting CIA findings to high-ranking officials.
Now retired, Kerr has the opportunity to reflect on his many experiences and he even shares his thoughts on how someone working in the intelligence community should consider approaching an administration that does not understand how useful agencies like the CIA can be when managing world issues.

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