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Former President George H.W. Bush named first recipient of Spy Museum honor 

Former President George H.W. Bush (seated left) holds up the International Spy Museum’s first award. He is joined in the photo by (clockwise) Lynda Webster, International Spy Museum President and COO Tamara Christian, the Honorable William H. Webster, ISM Founding Executive Director Peter Earnest, ISM VP of Development and Membership Rebecca Diamond, and former First Lady Barbara Bush. (Photo by Evan F. Sisley)

The International Spy Museum recently presented the first ever William H. Webster Distinguished Service Award to former President George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States and former Director of Central Intelligence, for his extraordinary leadership and contributions to the Intelligence Community.

Chosen by a committee of highly regarded former intelligence leaders, honorees demonstrate extraordinary contributions to the Intelligence Community at the national or international level. They embody the values of Judge William H. Webster, the only person to serve as both Director of Central Intelligence and Director of the FBI, including honor, integrity, probity, and fidelity to the law.

“I can think of no other person who should be the first recipient of this award,” said Judge Webster. “President George H.W. Bush is beloved for his leadership in the CIA and broader Intelligence Community. As president, he was an avid consumer of intelligence… By accepting this award, every awardee going forward will know that they are following in the footsteps of one of the greatest international leaders of our time… And, on a personal note, I might add that they are following the leadership of the most decent and honorable human being in public life I have ever known.”

“President Bush’s legacy in the intelligence world is one of integrity and authority,” said Peter Earnest, founding executive director of the International Spy Museum. “He was a pioneering, instrumental force in restoring confidence in the community and prioritizing education about the role and significance of intelligence. He embodies this award and inspires us at the Spy Museum to continue to build and grow public understanding of the role intelligence plays every day.”

President Bush accepted the award in Kennebunkport, Maine alongside former first lady Barbara Bush. The honor was presented in advance of the first annual William H. Webster Distinguished Service Award Dinner, which will take place at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC on November 29. The dinner theme will be “Real Spies. Real Stories.”

“It’s such an honor to be the first recipient of this award, first because of my great respect for a great man, Bill Webster,” said President George H.W. Bush. “He is a true patriot who has made this country we love safer and better for all of us; and second because of my great respect for the men and women of the Intelligence Community who put their lives on the line every single day so we can live safe and free. By accepting this award, I hope I honor all of them.”

The International Spy Museum is the only public museum in the United States solely dedicated to the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage and intelligence. Open since July 2002, the museum features the largest collection of international espionage artifacts ever placed on public display. The mission of the International Spy Museum is to educate the public about espionage and intelligence in an engaging way and to provide a context that fosters understanding of their important role and impact on current and historic events. The museum’s collection chronicles the history of espionage, from its inception, to the modern-day challenges facing intelligence professionals worldwide in the 21st century. For more information, see spymuseum.org.

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