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 Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

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.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs