Military Wiki
R. James Woolsey, Jr.
16th Director of Central Intelligence

In office
February 5, 1993 – January 10, 1995
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Robert Gates
Succeeded by John M. Deutch
Under Secretary of the Navy

In office
March 9, 1977 – December 7, 1979
President Jimmy Carter
Preceded by David R. Macdonald
Succeeded by James F. Goodrich
Personal details
Born Robert James Woolsey, Jr.
September 21, 1941(1941-09-21) (age 81)
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Robert James Woolsey, Jr. (born September 21, 1941) is a foreign policy specialist and former Director of Central Intelligence and head of the Central Intelligence Agency (from February 5, 1993 to January 10, 1995). A lawyer by training and trade, he held a variety of government positions in the 1970s and 1980s (including Under Secretary of the Navy 1977–1979, and involvement in treaty negotiations with the Soviet Union for five years in the 1980s), and also spent periods working in the private sector.

Early life

Woolsey was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he graduated from Tulsa Central High School. In 1963 he received his BA from Stanford University (Phi Beta Kappa), and in 1965 his MA from Oxford University — where he was a Rhodes Scholar — and an LLB from Yale Law School in 1968.

Woolsey was founder and president of Yale Citizens for Eugene McCarthy for President from 1967 to 1968. He was prominently active in the anti-Vietnam War movement.[1]


Woolsey has held important positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations. His influence has been felt during the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. He has also worked at the Shea & Gardner law firm, as Associate (1973–77) and partner (1979–89, 1991–93). Woolsey has served in the U.S. government as:

CIA Director

James Woolsey with Reginald Victor Jones and Jeanne de Clarens (field officer, source of scientific intelligence, captured by Nazis) in 1993.

Relationship with Bill Clinton

As Director of Central Intelligence, Woolsey is notable for having a very limited relationship with President Clinton. According to journalist Richard Miniter:

Never once in his two-year tenure did CIA director James Woolsey ever have a one-on-one meeting with Clinton. Even semiprivate meetings were rare. They only happened twice. Woolsey told me: "It wasn't that I had a bad relationship with the president. It just didn't exist."[2]

Another quote about his relationship with Clinton, according to Paula Kaufman of Insight on the News:

Remember the guy who in 1994 crashed his plane onto the White House lawn? That was me trying to get an appointment to see President Clinton.[3]

David Halberstam notes in War in a Time of Peace that Clinton chose Woolsey for CIA director because the Clinton campaign had courted neoconservatives leading up to the 1992 election, promising to be tougher on Taiwan, Bosnia, and human rights in China, and it was decided that they ought to give at least one neoconservative a job in the administration.[citation needed]

Aldrich Ames

Woolsey was CIA director when Aldrich Ames was arrested for treason and spying against the United States. The CIA was criticized for not focusing on Ames sooner, given the obvious increase in Ames standard of living;[4] and there was a "huge uproar" in Congress when Woolsey decided that no one in the CIA would be dismissed or demoted at the agency. "Some have clamored for heads to roll in order that we could say that heads have rolled," Woolsey declared. "Sorry, that's not my way." Woolsey was forced to resign.[5]

Later career

Woolsey is the chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is currently a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) Board of Advisors, Advisor of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, co-founder of the United States Energy Security Council, Founding Member of the Set America Free Coalition, and a Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton for Global Strategic Security (since July 15, 2002).[6] He is a Patron of the Henry Jackson Society, a British think tank. Woolsey has had long-standing contact with Central and Eastern Europe and is a Member of the Board of Advisors of the Global Panel Foundation based in Berlin, Copenhagen, Prague, Sydney and Toronto. He was formerly chairman of the Freedom House board of trustees. He is a member of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor.[7]

Woolsey is also a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signatories to the January 26, 1998 letter sent to President Clinton that called for the removal of Saddam Hussein.[8] That same year he served on the Rumsfeld Commission, which investigated the threat of ballistic missiles for the US Congress.

In 2008 Woolsey joined VantagePoint Venture Partners as a venture partner.

John McCain hired Jim Woolsey as an advisor on energy and climate change issues for his 2008 US Presidential election campaign.[9]

In April, 2011, Lux Capital announced that Woolsey would become a venture partner in the firm. Woolsey will primarily focus on identifying novel breakthroughs and new investment opportunities in energy. By joining Lux Capital, Woolsey hopes to help end America's addiction to foreign energy resources.[10]

In July 2011, Woolsey, in cooperation with Robert C. Mcfarlane, co-founded the United States Energy Security Council.[11] Woolsey also currently sits on the Board of Advisors for the Fuel Freedom Foundation.[12]

Woolsey has been a Board Member and Vice-Chairman of The Jamestown Foundation.


Woolsey has been known primarily as a neoconservative Democrat[13][14]hawkish on foreign policy issues but liberal on economic and social issues. He endorsed Senator John McCain for president and served as one of McCain's foreign policy advisors.[15] He has called himself a "Scoop Jackson Democrat" and a "Joe Lieberman Democrat", with "social democratic" domestic views. He regards the label 'neoconservative' as a "silly term".[1]


Woolsey was a keynote speaker at the EELPJ symposium on wind energy and biofuels in Houston, Texas on February 23, 2007, during which he outlined the national security arguments in favor of moving away from fossil fuels.[16] In a July 2007 interview with The Futurist magazine he argued that U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil ranks "very high" as a national security concern.[17]

Woolsey is featured in Thomas Friedman's Discovery Channel documentary Addicted to Oil, and in the 2006 documentary film Who Killed the Electric Car? addressing solutions to oil dependency through the development of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and use of biomass fuels such as cellulosic ethanol. He is a founding member of the Set America Free Coalition, dedicated to freeing the United States from oil dependence. He is also on the board of directors for the electric vehicle advocacy group Plug In America and an advisor to The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a think tank focused on energy security.

Woolsey also wrote the foreword to 50 Simple Steps to Save the Earth from Global Warming (Freedom Press, 2008). Woolsey is known as well recently for clearly articulating the national security argument in support of moving away from fossil fuels and towards distributed generation. He also advocates for measures to fight global warming and against global warming skeptics.[1]


Within hours of the September 11 attacks, Woolsey appeared on television suggesting Iraqi complicity.[18] In September 2002, as Congress was deliberating authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq, Woolsey told The Wall Street Journal that he believed that Iraq was also connected to the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.[19]

In 2005 Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation think tank, accused Woolsey of both profiting from and promoting the Iraq War.[20] Melvin A. Goodman, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and former CIA division chief, told the Washington Post that "…Woolsey was a disaster as CIA director in the 1990s and is now running around this country calling for a World War IV to deal with the Islamic problem."[21][22]

On a January 14, 2009 interview by Peter Robinson in the program Uncommon Knowledge, Woolsey described the CIA's intelligence about alleged Iraqi chemical and biological weapons as a "failure" before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He criticized the Bush administration for lumping together many different materials with different capabilities under the broad category of 'weapons of mass destruction'. He also stated that the Iraqis engaged on "red on red deception" in which Generals were led to falsely believe that their rival Generals had weapons, and he described the American intelligence failure as a reasonable mistake rather than an act of incompetence.[1]

Along with six other former directors, Woolsey was one of the signatories to the September 18, 2009 letter sent to President Obama[23] urging The President to exercise authority to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder’s August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations.


In 2010, Woolsey supported the Oklahoma ban on Sharia law, recording a message aired for thousands of Oklahomans.[24] Woolsey, along with co-authors such as former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin and neoconservative activist Frank Gaffney, Jr., released a book titled "Shariah: The Threat to America," published by the Center for Security Policy.[25] The book "describes what its authors call a 'stealth jihad' that must be thwarted before it's too late," and argues that "most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country."[25] According to the Washington Post, "Government terrorism experts call the views expressed in the center's book inaccurate and counterproductive."[25]

Woolsey was also criticized for his participation in the controversial films The Third Jihad and Iranium produced by the Clarion Fund.[26]

Woolsey was supportive of former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Leon Panetta, whom he has compared to Kennedy-era CIA head John McCone.[1]

Personal life

Woolsey is married and has two grandchildren. He lives near Annapolis, Md., but travels frequently to New York, where he appeared in 2012 as a CIA director named Heinous Overreach in workshop productions of the musical "John Goldfarb, Please Come Home." He took on the occasional role after meeting "Goldfarb" co-lyricist Michael Garin at the former Elaine's, where Garin was playing piano, and requesting a favorite song, "Dixie Chicken," which he later sang on stage with Garin at The Follow Spot, a performance that was recorded and posted to YouTube. Woolsey is an advisor at the Gatestone Institute.[27]

See also

  • Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Project for the New American Century
  • Committee on the Present Danger
  • Henry Jackson Society
  • World Affairs Council of Washington, DC
  • Richard Woolsey


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Intelligence and Security with James Woolsey. Uncommon Knowledge. Filmed on January 14, 2009. Retrieved July 6, 2009.
  2. Q&A with Richard Miniter on Osama bin Laden on National Review Online
  3. Kaufman, Paula (June 3, 2002). "Woolsey wary of more attacks; former CIA director James Woolsey says the U.S. could ensure a more peaceful world by toppling Iraq's Saddam Hussein and ceasing its toleration of Mideast tyrants". Insight on the News. 
  4. Powell, Bill (2002-11-01), Treason: How a Russian Spy Led an American Journalist to a U.S. Double Agent, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-2915-0
  5. John Broder (29 December 1994). "Woolsey Resigns as CIA Director'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 February 2012. 
  6. Right Web | Profile|James Woolsey
  7. International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor
  8. Project New American Century : The Indy Voice - “Be the change you want to see in the world…”
  9. Shipman, Tim (June 21, 2008). "John McCain hires former CIA director Jim Woolsey as green advisor". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  10. James Woolsey and Richard Foster join Lux
  11. [In July 2011, Woolsey, in cooperation with Robert C. Mcfarlane, co-founded the United States Energy Security Council "US Energy Security Council"]. In July 2011, Woolsey, in cooperation with Robert C. Mcfarlane, co-founded the United States Energy Security Council. 
  12. "Breaking America's Oil Addiction: Fuel Freedom Launches Campaign" "Bask Magazine", October 24, 2012
  13. Indyk, Martin (2009). Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East. Simon and Schuster. p. 16. ISBN 1-4165-9429-9. 
  14. Halberstam, David (2002). War in a Time of Peace. Simon and Schuster. pp. 191–92. ISBN 0-7432-1824-8. 
  15. McMahon, Robert (2008-06-03). "McCain's Brain Trust". Newsweek. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  16. EELPJ Symposium February, 2007
  17. Ending the Oil Era The Futurist July, 2007
  18. Former CIA Director Asserts Iraq May be Behind Terrorist Attacks CNN September 12, 2001
  19. Morrison, Micah (2002-09-02). "The Iraq Connection". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  20. Woolsey Needs to Make a Choice Between Being a War Profiteer or War Pundit The Washington Note July 10, 2005
  21. War in Iraq, with Mel Goodman Washington Post April 15, 2003
  22. Melvin A. Goodman Staff list Center for International Policy
  23. Letter to President Obama from Former Directors of Central Intelligence or Directors of the CIA, September 18, 2009
  24. Ure, Laurie (2010-11-01) Oklahoma voters face question on Islamic law, CNN
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Priest, Dana and Arkin, William (December 2010) Monitoring America, Washington Post
  26. Elie Clifton and Ali Gharib (26 January 2011). "'Iranium' or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the 'Military Option'". PBS. Retrieved 31 January 2011. 
  27. "Board of Advisors" Gatestone Institute. Retrieved September 26, 2013.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
David R. Macdonald
Under Secretary of the Navy
March 9, 1977 – December 7, 1979
Succeeded by
Robert J. Murray
Preceded by
Robert Gates
Director of Central Intelligence
February 5, 1993 – January 10, 1995
Succeeded by
John M. Deutch

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