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 Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford

Clark McAdams Clifford (December 25, 1906 October 10, 1998) was a highly influential American lawyer who served Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson and Carter, serving as Secretary of Defense for Johnson.



Clifford was born in Fort Scott, Kansas. He attended college and law school at Washington University, and built a solid reputation practicing law in St. Louis, Missouri between 1928 and 1943. He served as an officer with the United States Navy from 1944 to 1946, reaching the rank of captain and serving as assistant naval aide and then naval aide to President Truman, for whom he became a very trusted personal adviser and friend.



Clifford went to Washington, DC first to serve as Assistant to the President's Naval Advisor, after the naming of a personal friend from Missouri as the President's Naval Advisor. Following his discharge from the Navy, he remained at Truman's side as White House Counsel from 1946-1950, as Truman came rapidly to trust and rely on Clifford.



Clifford was a key architect of Truman's campaign in 1948, when he pulled off a stunning upset victory over Republican nominee Thomas Dewey. Clifford encouraged Truman to embrace a left wing populist image in hope of undermining the impact on the race of third party Progressive candidate Henry A. Wallace. He also believed that a strong pro-civil rights stance, while sure to alienate traditional Southern Democrats, would not result in a serious challenge to the party's supremacy in that region. This prediction was foiled by Strom Thurmond's candidacy as a splinter States' rights Democrat, but Clifford's strategy nonetheless helped win Truman election in his own right and establish the Democratic Party's position in the Civil Rights Movement.



After leaving the government in 1950, Clifford practiced law in Washington, but continued to advise Democratic leaders. One of his law clients was Sen. John F. Kennedy, and Clifford tried to assuage Truman's suspicion of Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy. In 1960, Clifford was a member of President-elect John F. Kennedy's Committee on the Defense Establishment, headed by Stuart Symington. In May 1961, Kennedy appointed Clifford to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, which he chaired beginning in April 1963. After President Lyndon B. Johnson took office in November 1963 following Kennedy's assassination, Clifford served frequently as an unofficial counselor and sometimes undertook short-term official duties, including a trip with General Maxwell Taylor in 1967 to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.



On January 19, 1968, President Johnson announced his selection of Clifford to succeed Robert McNamara as United States Secretary of Defense. Clifford estimated that, in the year just prior to his appointment, he had spent about half of his time advising the President and the other half working for his law firm.



Widely known and respected in Washington and knowledgeable on defense matters, Clifford was generally hailed as a worthy successor to McNamara. Many regarded the new secretary as more of a hawk on Vietnam than McNamara and thought his selection might presage an escalation of the U.S. military effort there. Clifford attempted to allay such fears when, responding to a query about whether he was a hawk (favoring aggressive military action) or a dove (favoring a peaceful resolution to the Vietnam War), he remarked, "I am not conscious of falling under any of those ornithological divisions."



The new Secretary did not change the management system McNamara installed at The Pentagon, and for the most part assigned internal administration to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul H. Nitze. Clifford made no effort to depart from McNamara's policies and programs on such matters as nuclear strategy, NATO, and military assistance, but he favored the Sentinel Anti-ballistic missile system, to which McNamara had given only lukeWarm backing. Clifford wanted to deploy the system, and supported congressional appropriations for it. One important effect of Sentinel construction, he thought, would be to encourage the Soviet Union to enter arms control talks with the United States. Indeed, before Clifford left office, the Johnson administration made arrangements for negotiations that eventually led to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972.



Clifford continued McNamara's highly-publicized Cost Reduction Program, announcing that over $1.2 billion had been saved in FY 1968 as a result of the effort. Faced with a congressionally-mandated reduction of expenditures in FY 1969, Clifford suspended the planned activation of an infantry division and deactivated 50 small ships, 9 naval air squadrons, and 23 Nike-Hercules missile launch sites.



By the time Clifford became secretary, Defense Department work on the FY 1969 budget was complete. It amounted in total obligational authority to $77.7 billion, almost $3 billion more than in FY 1968. The final FY 1970 budget, which Clifford and his staff worked on before they left office after the election of Richard M. Nixon to the Presidency, amounted to $75.5 billion TOA.



Clifford took office committed to rethinking President Johnson's Vietnam policies, and Vietnam policy consumed most of his time. He had argued against escalation in 1965 in private counsel with the President, but then provided public support for the President's position once the decision was made. At his confirmation hearing, he told the Armed Services Committee of the United States Senate that the limited objective of the United States was to guarantee to the people of South Vietnam the right of self-determination. He opposed ending the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam at the time, but acknowledged that the situation could change. In fact, on March 31, 1968, just a month after Clifford arrived at the Pentagon, President Johnson, in an effort to get peace talks started, ordered the cessation of bombing north of the 20th parallel, an area comprising almost 80 percent of North Vietnam's land area and 90 percent of its population. In the same address, Johnson announced that he would not be a candidate for reelection in 1968, surprising everyone, Clifford included. Soon the North Vietnamese agreed to negotiations, which began in Paris in mid-May 1968. Later, on October 31, 1968, to encourage the success of these talks, the President, with Clifford's strong support, ordered an end to all bombing in North Vietnam.



Clifford, like McNamara, had to deal with frequent requests for additional troops from military commanders in Vietnam. When he became secretary, the authorized force in Vietnam was 525,000. Soon after moving into his Pentagon office, Clifford persuaded Johnson to deny General William Westmoreland's request for an additional 206,000 American troops in Vietnam.



At the end of March 1968, however, the president agreed to send 24,500 more troops on an emergency basis, raising authorized strength to 549,500, a figure never reached. Even as he oversaw a continued buildup, Clifford preferred to emphasize the points President Johnson had made in his March 31, 1968 address: that the South Vietnamese army could take over a greater share of the fighting, that the administration would place an absolute limit on the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam, and that it would take steps, including the bombing restrictions, to reduce the combat level.



Eventually Clifford moved very close, with Johnson's tacit support, to the views McNamara held on Vietnam just before he left office -- no further increases in U.S. troop levels, support for the bombing halt, and gradual disengagement from the conflict. By this time Clifford clearly disagreed with Secretary of State Dean Rusk, who believed, according to The Washington Post, "that the war was being won by the allies" and that it "would be won if America had the will to win it." After he left office, Clifford, in the July 1969 issue of Foreign Affairs, made his views very clear: "Nothing we might do could be so beneficial . . . as to begin to withdraw our combat troops. Moreover . . . we cannot realistically expect to achieve anything more through our military force, and the time has come to begin to disengage. That was my final conclusion as I left the Pentagon...." Clifford received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Johnson on the President's last day in office, January 20, 1969.



Although the Johnson Administration ended under the cloud of the Vietnam War, Clifford concluded his short term as Secretary of Defense with his reputation actually enhanced. He got along well with the United States Congress, and this helped him to secure approval of at least some of his proposals. He settled into his duties quickly and efficiently, and capably managed the initial de-escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam; indeed, he apparently strongly influenced Johnson in favor of a de-escalation strategy. As he left office to return to his law practice in Washington, Clifford expressed the hope and expectation that international tensions would abate, citing the shift in the Vietnam confrontation from the battlefield to the conference table, and the evident willingness of the Soviet Union to discuss limitations on strategic nuclear weapons.



Clifford's legal practice and lobbying work made him wealthy, and he was considered one of Washington's "superlawyers" due to the reach of his influence and seemingly limitless connections. Clifford's office overlooked the White House, emphasizing his long experience in the capital. Clifford was renowned for his seemingly-effortless charm, style, tact and discretion.



In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed him as special presidential emissary to India. Clifford made waves by threatening the newly-established regime of Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran with war for its intransigence in negotiating the release of the hostages seized from the U.S. embassy in Tehran.



In 1991, Clifford's memoirs Counsel to the President (co-authored with Richard Holbrooke, later U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) were published just as his name was implicated in the unfolding Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) scandal. The scandal focused on the criminal conduct of the international bank and its control of financial institutions nationwide, and was found by regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom to be involved in money laundering, bribery, support of terrorism, arms trafficking, the sale of nuclear technologies, the commission and facilitation of tax evasion, smuggling, illegal immigration, and the illicit purchases of banks and real estate. The bank was found to have at least $13 billion unaccounted for.



Clifford served as chairman of First American Bankshares, which grew to become the largest bank in Washington, D.C.. Robert Morgenthau, the district attorney of Manhattan, disclosed that his office had found evidence that the parent company of Clifford's bank was secretly controlled by BCCI. Morgenthau convened a grand jury to determine whether Clifford and his partner, Robert A. Altman, had deliberately misled federal regulators when the two men assured them that BCCI would have no outside control.



Clifford's predicament worsened when it was disclosed he had made about $6 million in profits from bank stock that he bought with an unsecured loan from BCCI. The grand jury handed up indictments, and the U.S. Justice Department opened its own investigation. Clifford's assets in New York, where he kept most of his investments, were frozen.



At this time the issue of Clifford's nephew, Mark-John Clifford being involved in the fraud was being researched. The prosecution felt that Clifford's nephew had access to all of his accounts and acted as his financial advisor in all investment and banking relations. Mark-John Clifford, CEO and President of International Investment Group Ltd. would never be prosecuted but he was always considered to be part of the fraud.



The "Report to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate," prepared by U.S. senators John Kerry and Hank Brown, noted that a key strategy of "BCCI's successful secret acquisitions of U.S. banks in the face of regulatory suspicion was its aggressive use of a series of prominent Americans," Clifford among them [1]. Clifford, who prided himself on decades of meticulously ethical conduct, summed his predicament up when he sadly told a reporter from the New York Times, "I have a choice of either seeming stupid or venal." Most observers believed the former, and concluded that Clifford had not paid sufficiently close attention to the bank or its management structure.



Indictments against Clifford were set aside because of his failing health. After a final, frail appearance in the 1997 PBS documentary Truman, Clifford died in 1998 from natural causes at age 91. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

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WASHINGTON — Clark M. Clifford, reportedly offered a $250,000 office remodeling job when he became Secretary of Defense earlier this year, has instead chosen rather austere working surroundings. According to the Defense Department, Clifford's big suite on the Pentagon's third floor will be repainted ...
Defense Secretary Clark Clifford announced the call-up of 24,500 more reservists, many of whom would see service in Vietnam. 75 years ago. Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Derrington of Paris Route 6 received word that their son, John Porter Derrington, was a Japanese prisoner of war. He had been at Corregidor in ...

Says former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford: “An invitation to Kay Graham's house is second only to one to the White House.” In fact, Graham is one of few private citizens whose parties Presidents themselves attend. After retiring to his ranch in Texas, Lyndon Johnson phoned Graham to say he was ...
Indeed, at precisely the same time as their own deliberations in Tel Aviv, Truman was laboring to convince George Marshall, his formidable secretary of .... as the marathon meeting of the People's Administration in Tel Aviv— Marshall and Lovett met with Truman and his young special counsel Clark Clifford.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Clark M. Clifford today announced he is calling to active duty about 24,500 Army, Navy and Air Force reservists. About 10,000 will go to South Vietnam. In his first full-dress news conference, the new defense secretary said that President Johnson intends at this time to ...
Concerns regarding the military situation were heightened by General Westmoreland's sudden request for additional troops, which soon exceeded the congressionally-approved ceiling by 180,000. In his first significant questioning of extant policy, incoming Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford expressed his ...

He is perhaps best known for being on the team that represented Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Bennett has also worked with numerous other big names in Washington from both parties, including Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford. He too recently declined Trump's ...
He is perhaps best known for being on the team that represented Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Bennett has also worked with numerous other big names in Washington from both parties, including Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford. He too recently declined Trump's ...
He is perhaps best known for being on the team that represented Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Bennett has also worked with numerous other big names in Washington from both parties, including Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford. He too recently declined Trump's ...
This expanded bombing, Daniel Ellsberg hauntingly concludes in his memoir of the war, was “obediently carried out” by men from Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford “on down to flight crews, who believed it served no national purpose whatever.” Humphrey won the Democratic nomination in 1968, yet ...
The late Jerry O'Leary, a crusty Washington Star reporter known for his impatience with spin, confronted Reagan's press secretary Larry Speakes after the ... Clark Clifford, the mandarin Democrat and longtime presidential adviser, dined out all over Georgetown patronizing the new president as an “amiable ...
The late Jerry O'Leary, a crusty Washington Star reporter known for his impatience with spin, confronted Reagan's press secretary Larry Speakes after the ... Clark Clifford, the mandarin Democrat and longtime presidential adviser, dined out all over Georgetown patronizing the new president as an “amiable ...
In his first significant questioning of extant policy, incoming Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford expressed his frustration with the situation: “There is a very strange contradiction in what we are saying and doing. … We should give some very serious thought to how we explain saying on one hand the enemy ...
Concerns regarding the military situation were heightened by General Westmoreland's sudden request for additional troops, which soon exceeded the congressionally approved ceiling by 180,000. In his first significant questioning of extant policy, incoming Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford expressed his ...
Clark Clifford, a one-time hawk on Vietnam who became Johnson's secretary of defense in March 1968, concluded after Tet that the United States was being sucked into an endless quarrel, and he pushed Johnson to negotiate some kind of agreement with the Communists. Two weeks before Cronkite's ...
The reinforcement request immediately led the new secretary of defense, Clark M. Clifford, to demand an “A to Z” reassessment of the American position in Vietnam. While various draft memorandums for the president argued that the request could be met, they also warned of serious consequences, ...
On the 26th, he met with a group of advisers, known as 'the Wise Men', led by Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defence Clark Clifford, who told him bluntly that 'a military solution was no longer attainable', and that he should start taking steps to disengage from the conflict. The highly regarded ...

1968 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara is replaced by Clark Clifford. 1969 Mickey Mantle announces his retirement from baseball. 1974 A grand jury indicts seven of President Nixon's aides for the conspiracy on Watergate. 1985 The Pentagon accepts the theory that an atomic war would block the ...
Clark Clifford and Dean Acheson, advisers to President Truman, had wanted to call it the Truman Plan, but the Democratic president had proved more politically astute: “Anything going up” ... Dean Acheson had the president's ear on international finance (and would succeed Marshall as secretary of state).
LBJ's unhappiness with Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey—his own vice president—was an open secret in Washington. He was convinced that Nixon was closer to him on Vietnam than Humphrey; so much so that Defense Secretary Clark Clifford came to believe that LBJ actually wanted Nixon to win.
Mike McCurry, who worked as Bill Clinton's press secretary from December 1994 to August 1998, told The Independent there was “no greater high on earth” than driving ... Clark Clifford, who served five years in the Truman White House, once said of the 1948 campaign: “After that, I knew I would have to go.
... the press secretary, the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the Attorney General and others. The Office of Counsel to the President was created in 1943. Some of the more well-known former Counsels include: Clark Clifford (Truman); Ted Sorensen (Kennedy); and John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, ...
Lyndon Johnson knew what Nixon was doing in 1968 because of FBI surveillance. Yet, as Parry pointed out, Johnson and his advisers decided they should not reveal the truth. As Johnson's Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford told him just before the election, “Some elements of the story are so shocking in ...
The estrangement continued when Indira refused to denounce the Russian invasion of Afghanistan; however when Indira's External Affairs Minister Narasimha Rao protested to the visiting American presidential advisor Clark Clifford as to why was the US giving $400 million in military assistance to Pakistan ...
These Wise Men, or Wise Old Men, as some White House staff members took to calling them, included former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, one of ... a former investment banker, ambassador and secretary of the Treasury; Clark Clifford, Harry Truman's White House counsel; and Henry Cabot Lodge, ...
Clark Clifford, who had just taken office as secretary of defense, was indeed looking for a way out of Vietnam; the Tet Offensive had been a terrible shock to Clifford. He and a group of his subordinates opposed the military's request for a large expansion of the American force. But they did not dare suggest ...
Instead, the defense secretary suggested that American forces not only would remain but could even expand their role. ..... Not since Clark Clifford, the Washington lawyer who advised a string of Democratic presidents in the 1940s, '60s and '70s, has anyone held such influence when he didn't hold a ...
Present at the White House meeting were former Secretary of State Dean Acheson; former Undersecretary of State George Ball; McGeorge Bundy, Johnson's former national security adviser; Clark Clifford, President Harry Truman's White House counsel; New York lawyer Arthur Dean; former Treasury ...
Defense Secretary Clark Clifford is expected to decide within a week whether or not to reopen the Ravenna Arsenal of production of ammunition. The Federal Aviation Agency grants Youngs-town $295,117 toward a $600,000 lighting and taxiway improvement project at Youngstown Municipal Airport.
NEW YORK — Defense Secretary Clark M. Clifford said today South Vietnamese forces are ready to “take over more and more of the fighting.” He said the United States now can “level off our effort” in Vietnam and begin reducing the number of American troops “in due time.” Clifford said a comprehensive ...
... the press secretary, the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the Attorney General and others. The Office of Counsel to the President was created in 1943. Some of the more well-known former Counsels include: Clark Clifford (Truman); Ted Sorensen (Kennedy); and John Ehrlichman, Charles Colson, ...
Lyndon Johnson knew what Nixon was doing in 1968 because of FBI surveillance. Yet, as Parry pointed out, Johnson and his advisers decided they should not reveal the truth. As Johnson's Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford told him just before the election, “Some elements of the story are so shocking in ...
Sweet's memo about District Eight “resonated,” Defense Secretary Clark Clifford later wrote, and it led Westmoreland's successor, Gen. Creighton Abrams, to curtail the use of air and artillery strikes. This was part of Abrams's attempt to wage what one historian has called a “better war,” but it was too late: ...
His new defense secretary, Clark Clifford, called Vietnam “a bottomless pit” and envisioned “more and more fighting and more and more casualties and no end in sight.” Secretary of State Dean Rusk said Tet had snuffed out hope for a U.S. win in the Vietnam War. In June, Johnson relieved Westmoreland of ...
In May 1948, on the eve of Israel's independence, Secretary of State George Marshall accused President Harry Truman of yielding to the Jewish vote in recognising ... Truman's adviser, Clark Clifford, told his president that the elections would be decided in areas other than the east coast and Los Angeles.
Months later, McNamara's successor as defense secretary, Clark Clifford, would tell Congress a military rescue of the Pueblo and its crew had been out of the question. "One of the main reasons we didn't go in there with an attacking force," he testified, "was that we would not get our men back; that would ...
Months later, McNamara's successor as defense secretary, Clark Clifford, would tell Congress a military rescue of the Pueblo and its crew had been out of the question. "One of the main reasons we didn't go in there with an attacking force," he testified, "was that we would not get our men back; that would ...
Upon completion of his academic programs he entered the United States Army and served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corps with the First Calvary Division in Korea and later in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during the tenures of Secretaries Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford.
The new secretary of defense, Clark Clifford, recalled that “It is hard to imagine or recreate the atmosphere in the sixty days after Tet. The pressure grew so intense that at times I felt the government might come apart at its seams. Leadership was fraying at its very center—something very rare in a nation with ...
Defense Secretary McNamara served during the Kennedy and Johnson years, with his successor, Clark M. Clifford, receiving the completed Pentagon Papers five days before Nixon's inauguration. Once the rampant government deception is laid at Nixon's White House, “The Post” congers up a simplistic ...
In this first conversation, Haig suspected, incorrectly, that the leak was the work of McNamara's successor, former Defense Secretary Clark M. Clifford, and two officials from the Pentagon division that produced the study, Morton H. Halperin and Leslie H. Gelb. That suspicion was enough to alarm Nixon ...
These Wise Men, or Wise Old Men, as some White House staff members took to calling them, included former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, one of ... a former investment banker, ambassador and secretary of the Treasury; Clark Clifford, Harry Truman's White House counsel; and Henry Cabot Lodge, ...
The private message was from charter members of the Cold War establishment: Johnson's own defense secretary Clark Clifford, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Averell Harriman, retired World War II generals Omar Bradley and Matthew Ridgway, and others of similar stature. Those were the ...
Mike McCurry, who worked as Bill Clinton's press secretary from December 1994 to August 1998, told The Independent there was “no greater high on earth” than driving ... Clark Clifford, who served five years in the Truman White House, once said of the 1948 campaign: “After that, I knew I would have to go.
There's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announcing that talking with North Korea would be a good idea. ... One of the things that has been missing in the administration is any outreach to the kind of wise men—George F. Kennan, Averell Harriman, Clark Clifford, Brent Scowcroft, and so on – that previous ...
Meanwhile, John Foster Dulles, a powerful corporate lawyer who later became secretary of state during the Eisenhower administration, told his clients .... This was in fact the exact language of Clark Clifford, one of the “wise men” surrounding Lyndon Johnson when his administration discovered Nixon's ...
Key to this effort were two avid Zionists, Clark Clifford and David Niles, both counsels to US President Harry S. Truman (1945-53). ... From 1970 onwards, US national security adviser (and later secretary of state) Henry Kissinger refused many overtures from Egypt's Anwar Al-Sadat, who sought a peaceful ...
Instagram/Twitter: @itsgarykayi itsgarykayi.com · Cameron Folmar (Governor George Wallace/Richard Nixon/Clark Clifford) returns to Arena Stage after appearing in All the Way. New York credits include The 39 Steps (Broadway and Off-Broadway) and Volpone, The Merchant of Venice, The Jew of Malta, ...
It is difficult to remember any press secretary since Nixon's Ron Ziegler who has faced so much suspicion from the Fourth Estate. Yet what is equally surprising is ... Clark Clifford, a White House adviser, famously called him “an amiable dunce” at a Georgetown dinner party. Meanwhile, a liberal press corps ...
David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been a White House adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Follow him on Twitter: @david_gergen.


 

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