Richard James Kerr, a former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, recounts how he joined the Agency fresh out of college in Unclassified: My Life Before, During, and After the CIA. Working as a GS7 analyst/clerk and rose through the ranks quickly, serving in all four directories: Intelligence, Operations, Administration, and Science/Technology, reaching Director level in both Intelligence and Administration.
Kerr was responsible for many highly visible tasks such as providing the President with a daily briefing of CIA intelligence. He was known for his stabilizing influence during his tenure and his ability to diffuse 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 had the opportunity to reflect on his many experiences. It’s this fresh, enlightening, insider perspective that helps readers better understand the inner workings of this historic American institution. It is the story of an ordinary person growing up in an incredibly complex organization.
Kerr even shares his opinion 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.
Kerr contends that he was proud to work at the CIA and always thought of it as more than just a “government job.” In fact, when he’s asked if he worked for the government, he responds, “No. I worked for the CIA.”
Living on the West Coast with his mother and stepfather, Richard Kerr went to nearly 25 schools before he entered the 10th grade. Shortly after joining the army, he married his 18-year-old sweetheart. They are still together 65 year later. After three years in the service, he attended the University of Oregon. Not the typical start for someone who became the most senior intelligence officer in the United States.
Recruited by the CIA after a year of graduate school, he had some great mentors, a lot of luck and some exciting experiences. Early in his career he went on his first overseas trip to brief the Shah of Iran and the President of Pakistan on the Soviet threat. As the head of the office that wrote the President’s Daily Brief, he briefed President-elect Reagan daily between the election and his swearing in as President. He first served as deputy and then director of the Agency element that did world-wide political, economic and military analysis. He was chosen to be the Deputy Director of CIA when President George H. W. Bush entered office.
Although his career in the CIA ended in 1992, he continued to work on projects for the intelligence organizations. Dick moved to Vero Beach, Florida in 2019 and has been active in the community lecturing on foreign policy and writing. ◊