William H. Webster, 14th Director of Central Intelligence, 3rd Director of the FBI

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William Hedgcock Webster

Birthplace: Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Milliken Webster and Katherine Hedgcock

Managed by: Private User
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About William H. Webster, 14th Director of Central Intelligence, 3rd Director of the FBI


William Hedgcock Webster (born March 6, 1924) is an American attorney, jurist, and current Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Previously Webster was the third Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1978 to 1987 and Director of Central Intelligence from 1987 to 1991. He was a former federal judge who ascended to the CIA after his successful coups against the New York mafia families while director of the FBI under President Jimmy Carter. Judge Webster is the only American to serve as both Director of Central Intelligence and Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Life and career

He was born in St. Louis and received his early education in Webster Groves; he received his bachelor's degree from Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts where he was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, in 1947 and his Juris Doctor degree from the Law School of Washington University in St. Louis in 1949.

After serving as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II, he joined a St. Louis firm, but left private practice soon after to begin a long and illustrious career in public service. He was a United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri from 1960 to 1961, then a member of the Missouri Board of Law Examiners from 1964 to 1969. In 1970, Webster was appointed a judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and in 1973 he was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Five years later, President Jimmy Carter appointed him as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Then in 1987, President Ronald Reagan chose him to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He led the CIA until his retirement from public office in 1991. Since then, Webster has practiced law at the Washington D.C. office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy where he specializes in arbitration, mediation and internal investigation.

On March 3, 2002 the University of California, Santa Barbara, held a debate titled "National Security vs. Personal Liberty." The guest speakers were Mr. Webster and American Civil Liberties Union President Nadine Strossen. During the debate, Mr. Webster made the following statement which has since gained some popularity. “Security is always seen as too much until the day it’s not enough..." He also stated "Order protects liberty and liberty protects order.”

September 11 Attacks

In reference to the September 11, 2001 attacks, Webster praised President George W. Bush for not acting rashly. “He did not launch seven ballistic missiles,” Webster said. “He didn’t even launch one.” However, Webster also stated a need for harder work in what he called public diplomacy in the following statement. “We need to work harder at getting our values out to those parts of the world that are most hostile to us,” he said. “You can call it propaganda if you want. I call it public diplomacy.”

Honors and Awards

For his distinguished service, Webster has received numerous honors and awards. Washington University granted Webster the Alumni Citation for contributions to the field of law in 1972 and in 1981 he received the William Greenleaf Eliot Award. In 1999 the School of Law created the Webster Society, an outstanding scholars program. Furthermore, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the university's law school in 1977. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat named him "Man of the Year."

Webster has received numerous awards for public service and law enforcement and holds honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. In 1991, he was presented the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Security Medal. In June 2008 Webster received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from The Institute of World Politics. He received the William J. Donovan Award from The OSS Society in 2005 and serves as an honorary chairman of this organization.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Council of the American Law Institute, the Order of the Coif, the Missouri Bar Integrated the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. Additionally, he served as chairman of the Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He served as Co-chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. In 2009, he was named to head an independent investigation of the FBI's actions surrounding the Fort Hood shooting.

Personal Life

He was married for 34 years to Drusilla Lane Webster and the couple had three children, Drusilla, William H. Webster, Jr. and Katherine. Following Mrs. Webster's death in 1984 he was remarried in 1990 to the former Lynda Clugston. They reside in Washington, DC.

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William H. Webster, 14th Director of Central Intelligence, 3rd Director of the FBI's Timeline

March 6, 1924
Saint Louis, Missouri, United States