Sadness: Former NSA Director William Odom Dies

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william odom.jpg
General William Odom, former Director of the National Security Agency, was an early critic of the Bush administration’s obsession with invading Iraq.
He called the decision the worst strategic mistake in American military history in the last century and perhaps since the establishment of the Republic. Word has reached me that he died yesterday at 75.
Odom was an occasional reader of The Washington Note — and I will greatly miss both him, his fiery twang, and the volumes of national security information and perspective he would frequently share with me by phone.
When I was writing a great deal about Scooter Libby, his legal defense fund, and doing research into who was helping him behind the scenes, General Odom was a key source of material and smart thinking.
Odom’s last published oped was co-written with Zbigniew Brzezinski and was a sane and realist outline of how America should approach Iran. Here is his and Brzezinski’s Washington Post oped, “A Sensible Path on Iran.”
General Odom was one of those conservatives with a conscience this blog gladly and enthusiastically salutes. Rest in peace.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

16 comments on “Sadness: Former NSA Director William Odom Dies

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    Reply

  4. söve says:

    So sorry to learn of General Odom’s passing. He was a true defender of our Constitution.

    Reply

  5. John Waring says:

    We have lost a national treasure. His intellectual grasp, his clarity of thought and expression are neither conservative nor liberal, but a testament to the greatness of the man.

    Reply

  6. Steve Jones says:

    theCardinal, pardon me for the delayed reply. It’s been a while
    since I checked back. I do hope you find this. It’s not that I only
    agree with those who wholeheartedly agree with me on an issue.
    It’s just that I strongly disagreed with General Odom’s notion
    that what Iraq needed was another strongman along the lines of
    Saddam. That is what Rumsfeld’s people initially wanted to do,
    to knock down Saddam and replace him with their boy Ahmed
    Chalabi. I can only guess what a disaster would have come if
    that plan had succeeded. Naive small-d democrat that I am, I
    hoped, and still hope, that some form of bottom-up (rather than
    top-down as we delivered) democracy would develop there. I
    still hold that hope. And as I said, any democracy in Iraq will of
    necessity be anti-American, for that is the majority opinion in
    Iraq. Who can blame them?
    I’ll check back soon, or you can contact me at sjones at igc dot
    org. And, no, the igc does not stand for what you think it does.

    Reply

  7. theCardinal says:

    I hate to bring snarky cynicism to this solemn post…I too admired Gen. Odom both in and out of uniform but Steve how come the only conservatives you salute are those that agree with you wholeheartedly on an issue.

    Reply

  8. Andrew Mehdiz. says:

    Mr. Odom will be well missed. His views on the Iran, war & peace, and the Constitution were priceless. It’d be a shame if Bush continues to ignore his appeals for peace and diplomacy.

    Reply

  9. Kathleen says:

    So sorry to learn of General Odom’s passing. He was a true defender of our Constitution.

    Reply

  10. FYI says:

    the Late General Odom was a highly educated, thoughtful, and sane American. He was a credit to his country. His sanity on Iraq and Iran will be sorely missed.
    You guys in US have no one like him among the 40 and 50 year olds. That is one reason that you are such a dangerous people.

    Reply

  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Indeed, a loyal idealogue.
    He had his view and his beliefs, but these never shook him from a grasp of the truth.
    Condolences to friends and family, thanks as well for his voice.

    Reply

  12. Steve Jones says:

    While I didn’t always agree with Gen. Odom, I shared much of his
    experience as a conservative who didn’t recognize what had
    become of the movement begun by Goldwater (passing over
    Hoover’s influence), co-opted by Reagan and destroyed by the
    Bushes.
    I will miss his voice. As I see it, his only mistake was in
    believing that the future of Iraq could only be secured by
    nominating another strongman in the place of Saddam. I still
    hold out hope for some sort of rump democracy, though I
    recognize that any democracy arising in Iraq will of necessity be
    anti-American.
    I still hope that I am right, and that Iraq does not pass through
    the retrograde stage Bill Odom foresaw. Nonetheless, I sincerely
    miss him. Rest in peace, General Odom. We will carry on with
    you firmly in our memory. America abides.

    Reply

  13. ManagedChaos says:

    And Dick Cheney lives to breathe another breath…there is no justice in this world.

    Reply

  14. S Brennan says:

    William E. Odom, True Patriot Rest in Peace.

    Reply

  15. Zathras says:

    I am very sorry to learn of this. Gen. Odom was a valuable thinker on national security affairs and an important official in two administrations in the latter years of the Cold War. I regret the next administration will not have the benefit of his counsel.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    This is unfortunate news. The forces of rationality and realism could have used Odom’s voice in the debates ahead. Let’s hope their are others in the military who have been influenced by Odom, and can step up to fill his shoes.
    I saw him a couple of months ago on C-Span giving testimony to a Senate Committee. He didn’t look at all well.

    Reply

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