TRIBUTE TO FORMER CIA DIRECTOR WILLIAM COLBY (House of Representatives - May 14, 1996)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Barr] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BARR of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to remind my colleagues and remind the American people of a great American, a spy who has come in from the cold, William Colby. Mr. Colby was memorialized today in a service that I had the honor of attending at the National Cathedral and sitting there among so many hundreds of family members, friends, world leaders, former colleagues of his and probably many average American citizens who had read about him in the newspaper, believed in what he had done, recognized him for the greatness that he embodied and simply came in and attended the memorial service.

As I sat there, I was reminded of the time that I have spent, that I have known Mr. Colby, first as a junior officer for several years during my tenure at the CIA. I had the honor of serving under him during the years that he served as DCI or Director of Central Intelligence . At the time I knew him probably simply by reputation as the boss, the man that headed the agency. I knew him by reputation for the long years of service that he had put in serving his country at the CIA and, prior to that, in the OSS and in the military during the war. But it was really in the years after I left my service at the CIA, entered the private practice of law in Georgia, served as the U.S. Attorney in Georgia, and now as a Member of Congress that I have really come to know the William Colby that was such a tribute to his country, to his family and to his friends.

Mr. Colby's passing, of course, is the signal of the passing of an era in some ways. The tremendous years, decades of service to his country, the selfless service that he embodied, the service that forsook the lucrative call of private practice for many years, that drew him away from his family for many years, that kept him apart indeed in many ways from his fellow citizens for many years because of the very nature of his work, the secrecy of it, are the sorts of things that we see far too infrequently in public life nowadays.

Mr. Speaker, something else about Mr. Colby that I know from personal experience that is, if not unique, certainly something that we again do not see too often. That is the fact that, despite the man's tremendous intellect, despite the tremendous responsibilities that he continued to carry with him, even after leaving Government service, despite the fact that he could be jetting around the world anywhere at a moment's notice and meeting with world leaders, meeting with business leaders, large and small, he would always, and I emphasize always, find the time to take a call from a friend, to chat for a few minutes, to answer a question, to promise to get back to that old friend, that former junior colleague of his with an answer that might help with providing some information to an American citizen contemplating traveling abroad and who wanted to learn something about the inside scoop on a foreign nation.

In listening to the tributes today at the National Cathedral to my old friend, Bill Colby, I really was struck by the depth of public service embodied in this man. It is something that I cherish very much, and I commend to my colleagues here in this House and to the American people to learn about this man, to study him, to take heart in the selfless public service, the nonpartisan public service. In all the years that I knew Bill Colby, and he supported me politically, he supported me in many ways, I never asked him whether he was a Republican or a Democrat, and I do not know. It is not something that he demanded as a litmus test of anybody, and probably most people never demanded it of him.

Mr. Speaker, he responded to me as he responded to American citizens, many of whom he never knew, because he was that kind of man. He was a man that would constantly reach out, give of himself whether it was simply answering a question or whether it was parachuting behind enemies lines in World War II or serving this country very valiantly for many years in Vietnam. Mr. Colby truly was the professional's professional. He was the patriot's patriot for this country. He has indeed now come in from the cold, for he is now in the bosom of our Lord. I commend him to the American people.

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