Dr. John Poindexter is the director of the Information Awareness Office at the Department of Defense. His job is to oversee the development of several technology projects, the most prominent being the Total Information Awareness system. Total Information Awareness will be the largest compilation of personal information in existence and the tools to make sense of the information. The database will be a central source for information on people the US Government likes keep tabs on.
The office was created in January of 2002 and Poindexter was appointed as the office's first director by the Bush administration on February 13. He is a retired Navy Admiral and was Reagan's National Security Advisor. He and his wife Linda live in Rockville, Maryland, a 45-minute drive from his office in Arlington, Virginia. They have four adult sons and several grandchildren.
John Marlan Poindexter was born to Marlin Glenn Poindexter and Ellen Sommers in Washington, Indiana on August 12th, 1936. He attended high school in Odon, Indiana. In 1958 he graduated from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis at the top of his class. Shortly after his graduation, Poindexter married his wife Linda before starting his naval carrier as an engineering officer on a destroyer. While still employed by the Navy, he enrolled in the California Institute of Technology where he earned his PhD in nuclear physics with a doctoral dissertation titled "Electronic Shielding by Closed Shells in Thulium Compounds." He returned to work on his ship as the most educated man in the Navy.
Through his 30-year naval carrier Poindexter served mostly on destroyers, of which he works as a Chief Engineer before eventually being given the Command of a missile destroyer. Poindexter eventually left the sea for desk jobs at the Pentagon and served in several positions such as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, and National Security Advisor to the President. He retired from the Navy in 1987 at the rank of Vice Admiral.
From 1981 to 1986 he worked for the Reagan administration, first as the Military Assistant, then as Deputy National Security Advisor, and finally as National Security Advisor. According to his resume, "He was directly involved in implementing The President's policies on a strong defense, freedom and democracy around the world, human rights, world hunger, economic and military assistance, combating terrorism and arms control." Specifically this Cold Warrior worked on the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), the Achille Lauro Hijacking, he offered support for Contras in Nicaragua and attempted to help US relationships with Iran. The latter two were better known as the Iran-Contra Scandal.
Under Poindexter's supervision, the US intelligence community sold weapons to the Muslim fundamentalist leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, to help in his war with Iraq. In exchange, American hostages in Lebanon were freed. These actions were totally contrary to what President Reagan was telling the American people, "The US gives terrorists no rewards, no guarantees, we make no concessions. We make no deals." The arms sales went on for over a year. The money that was made helped fund rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua who were trying to overthrow the communist government. Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, one of Poindexter's subordinates, was in charge of arming and organizing the Contras.
However, not all the money for funding the rebels came from selling weapons. One of the Poindexter's key players of the Contra supply network was Panamanian General Manuel Noriega, a well known cocaine trafficker for various Columbian drug lords. While publicly asking people to "Just say no" Congressional inquiries exposed the fact that Reagan's National Security Council used millions of dollars of drug money to fund operations in Nicaragua as well as other black ops.
When the US's involvement in Nicaragua was discovered, Poindexter along with Oliver North began to cover up any evidence of the operation. North was ordered to shut the operation down. Poindexter destroyed thousands of pages of documents, emails and other evidence. They held meetings to talked out "a false version of events" of which they told to the press and to Congress. They also took steps to make Reagan look as if he had no involvement what so ever. Reagan's own records suggest otherwise.
In the wake of the scandal Poindexter was forced to resign his position as National Security Advisor and retired from the Navy. He was tried and convicted of five felony counts because of his involvement, including criminal conspiracy, obstructing congress and destroying evidence. Poindexter was the highest ranking member of the Reagan administration to be convicted in the scandal. His convictions were later overturned and he was granted immunity in exchange for him testifying before Congress. Arthur Liman, chief counsel to the Senate select committee on the Iran-Contra Scandal remarked, "I knew it was John Poindexter, not Oliver North, who held Ronald Reagan's fate in his hands. North was the more colorful by far, but I wanted Poindexter as a witness."
Still, even with immunity Poindexter continued to protect Reagan from impeachment, claiming in his testimony, "I made a very deliberate decision not to ask the president so that I could insulate him from the decision and provide some future deniability for the president if it ever leaked out." But, one of Poindexter's former commanders claimed that he "would never take an initiative without the approval of his superior, and that his obedience was almost a fault."
He left Washington for work in the private technology sector, but couldn't stay away for long. Working for several companies, he found himself acting as a consultant for the various government agencies. He eventually moved into management at Syntek Technologies, whose main function was to design systems for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency in the Department of Defense that invented the Internet.
In February of 2002 Poindexter left Syntek to head a new office at DARPA, the Information Awareness Office. President Bush commented that he thinks Poindexter is "an outstanding American and an outstanding citizen who has done a very good job in what he has done for our country" despite his passed record. The press, however, has a completely different view of the man. He has been referred to as "Big Brother" and more of a threat to America than Saddam Hussein.
Because the Total Information Awareness system will be storing vast amounts of personal information reporter Matt Smith published a column that contained a lot of information about Poindexter (like his phone number and address, his neighbors numbers and addresses, etc.) in an attempt to demonstrate how intrusive collecting this sort of data is. Much to Smith's surprise, his column was reprinted in scores of print publications and hundreds of websites. Since then, several have followed suit posting driving directions to his house, aerial and ground photographs of his house, information about his children and grandchildren, and the location of the church he attends.
Others are billing him as the most powerful man in the world. Not to mention his vast political ties in the Pentagon and the Bush administration, his new position puts him in control of the most powerful computer system in the world. The newly created Information Awareness Office chose the motto "Knowledge is power" to represent their information gathering projects. With something like the Total Information Awareness system, one could conclude that anyone holding the total of information would consequently have the total of power as well.