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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

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 After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

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 Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

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 Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

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 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.

VOA Blogs