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Controversial Member of Defense Research Agency to Resign - 2003-07-31

A retired Navy admiral who once worked for President Ronald Reagan will resign his current Pentagon research position following criticism of two controversial counter-terrorism projects he was involved with.

A senior Pentagon official says retired Navy admiral John Poindexter will step down within a few weeks because he recognizes it will be difficult for him to stay on in the face of mounting criticism.

Admiral Poindexter worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He came under fire most recently for his role in the agency's now-abandoned futures-trading market for predicting terrorist attacks and other sources of instability in the Middle East.

Previously he had been attacked by civil rights groups for his involvement in what was called the Terrorism Information Awareness program, a surveillance program that raised citizen privacy violation concerns.

The senior Pentagon official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity credited Admiral Poindexter with having what he termed a creative intellect.

But he acknowledged there was what he termed an unorthodox aspect to the admiral's projects. He also indicated the admiral's background had affected perceptions of his recent counter-terrorist work.

Admiral Poindexter's background included service as national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s where he gained notoriety for his role in the so-called Iran-Contra affair. In that affair, the Reagan administration secretly sold arms to Iran, which was then locked in a bloody war with its neighbor Iraq, and diverted the proceeds to the Contra rebels fighting to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

Admiral Poindexter was convicted on multiple felony counts related to the Iran-Contra affair. But the convictions were later overturned.

Following his White House tenure, he spent several years in private industry before joining the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.