News / USA

Former CIA Director, US Cabinet Member Schlesinger Dies

FILE - A 2004 photo shows former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, chairman of the Detention Operations Review Panel speaking at the Pentagon.
FILE - A 2004 photo shows former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, chairman of the Detention Operations Review Panel speaking at the Pentagon.
James Schlesinger, who served three U.S. presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, in the top posts at the Central Intelligence Agency, Pentagon and Energy Department in the 1970s, died on Thursday at age 85.
A serious thinker on national security and an executive determined to get things done, Schlesinger headed the CIA and the Defense Department under Republicans at a time of major change and then, as its first chief, established the Energy Department from scratch under Democrat Jimmy Carter.
He died at a hospital in Baltimore, and the cause of death was complications from pneumonia, a U.S. official said.
As defense secretary under Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford from 1973 to 1975, Schlesinger led a buildup in defense to assure the U.S. military's Cold War balance with the Soviet Union and make it “increasingly competitive with potential adversaries.”
His bluntness, which some said bordered on arrogance, made him some enemies. Over time his disagreements with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and disputes with some members of Congress led Ford, who was concerned about rising defense budgets, to dismiss him.
During his tenure, there were three major military events around the world. The Yom Kippur War was fought in the Middle East in 1973, Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, and North Vietnam took over the South in 1975.
In the Yom Kippur War, Schlesinger resupplied the Israelis when the war was not going well for them despite complaints from Kissinger that the action would anger the Arabs.
The U.S. military presence in Vietnam had been rolled back before Schlesinger became secretary. Although he once suggested that U.S. aerial bombing should resume if North Vietnam advanced toward the South, when it did so, there was little the United States could do.
On April 29, 1975, Schlesinger announced that the last U.S. personnel had left Vietnam, ending one of the most divisive periods in U.S. history.
'An Extraordinary Patriot'

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Schlesinger "leaves behind a remarkable legacy of accomplishment and service that will ensure his place in history alongside our country's great statesmen."

"I relied on his counsel when I was a United States senator and as secretary of defense have benefited enormously from his experience, his guidance, and his strategic thinking as a member of the Defense Policy Board," Hagel said in a statement.
U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, a leading Republican figure in Congress on national security matters and his party's 2008 presidential nominee, lauded Schlesinger, who he called “my friend and adviser.” McCain said Schlesinger “dedicated his life to protecting America's national security.”
Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee, added, “Jim Schlesinger was a good and gifted man and an extraordinary patriot and public servant. Over the years, I benefited greatly from his informed judgment and wise counsel.”
Born Feb. 29, 1929 in New York City, Schlesinger went to Harvard University, earning a Ph.D. in economics in 1956. He taught at the University of Virginia, published items on national security and worked for RAND Corp as director of strategic studies.
After serving as deputy budget director and chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee, he became director of the Central Intelligence Agency in February 1973 under Nixon.
His six-month tenure was rocky. He succeeded Richard Helms, a respected and popular director who was fired because he would not go along with Nixon's actions in the Watergate scandal.
Schlesinger launched a drive for major organizational and personnel overhaul, which put him at odds with many at the agency. Word had it that he was so unpopular that a security camera had to be installed across from his official portrait for fear it would be vandalized.
Nixon moved him to the Defense Department at the relatively young age of 44. When he left nearly two-and-a-half years later, he was replaced by the youngest defense secretary ever, Donald Rumsfeld.
Carter became president in 1977 after a campaign in which he stressed fixing America's energy problems, and he picked Schlesinger as his special adviser on the issue.
Later in that year when Congress established the Energy Department, Carter named him as its first secretary.
Schlesinger left that post in 1979 and returned to lecturing and writing and served on a number of boards and commissions, including being named to the Homeland Security Advisory Council after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
He returned to public service in 2008 and the chance to serve a fourth president, Republican George W. Bush, when he was picked to lead a panel looking at ways to improve control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs