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During the Revolutionary War (1775-83), thanks chiefly to General George Washington, American intelligence and covert action outclassed those of Britain. Washington’s early experience in the French and Indian Wars had convinced him that ‘There is nothing more necessary than good Intelligence to frustrate a designing enemy, & nothing that requires greater pains to obtain.’ His correspondence with the officers of the Continental Army contained frequent requests for ‘the earliest Advises of every piece of Intelligence, which you shall judge of Importance’. Washington’s passion for intelligence, however, sometimes made him reluctant to delegate. He wrote absent-mindedly to one of his agents: ‘It runs in my head that I was to corrispond with you by a fictitious name, if so I have forgotten the name and must be reminded of it again. ’ Two centuries later, the head of the intelligence community, William Casey, told a Senate committee, ‘I claim that my first predecessor as Director of Central Intelligence was . . . George Washington, who appointed himself.’ The next 30 presidents, however, rarely showed much enthusiasm for intel ligence operations. Not until the Cold War did any of Washington’s successors rival his flair for intelligence.