9th Secretary of Defense of the United States, sworn in by Lyndon Johnson, March 1, 1968

born December 25, 1906
Fort Scott, Kansas
died October 10, 1998 (pneumonia)
Bethesda, Maryland
buried in Arlington National Cemetery


Military Career

  • 1944-1946: Captain in the Navy, assistant naval aide and naval aide to the president

Career Track

  • 1946-1950: special counsel to the president
  • 1950: opened his own Washington, DC law firm
  • 1960: member of President-elect Kennedy's Committee on the Defense Establishmen
  • 1961: President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
  • 1963: chairman, President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
  • 1963-1968: part-time advisor to the president, part time lawyer at his Washington, DC firm
  • 1967: trip to Vietnam with General Maxwell Taylor
  • 1968: Secretary of Defense
    Clifford had to deal with the tough situation in Vietnam. Although Clifford was against stopping the bombing north of the 20th parallel (which was home to more than 90% of the population), he was heartily supportive of a plan to change the situation in Vietnam. Bombing was stopped shortly after Clifford took office by orders of president Johnson and as a catalyst to peace talks held in Paris in May, 1968.

    Facing requests for more US forces from military leaders in Vietnam, Clifford authorised an emergency increase in the number of American soldiers in Vietnam from 525,000 to 549,000. This number was never reached as Clifford and other top-level officials began to embrace the idea of de-escalation.

    "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 on January 20, 1969."

    after leaving office, Clifford returned to practicing law at his law firm in DC.
  • 1974-1992: board member, Knight Ridder newspapers
  • 1977: counselor to Jimmy Carter's budget director Bert Lance
  • 1991: indicted on charges of deceiving federal and state banking regulators in connection with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (charges were eventually dropped against Clifford, but BCCI pleaded guilty)

references: http://www.defenselink.mil, http://freep.com/news/obituaries/qcliff11.htm, http://findagrave.com/pictures/5936.html

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