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William Webster

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William Hedgcock Webster (born March 6, 1924) was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1978 to 1987 and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) 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.

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 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, Webster resigned the judgeship to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1987 he was sworn in as 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. firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy where he specializes in arbitration, mediation and internal investigation.

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.

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 and the Metropolitan St. Louis Bar Association. 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.

He currently lectures and advises the intelligence community, but is no longer active in the U.S. government.


Preceded by:
William J. Casey
Director of Central Intelligence
1987–1991
Succeeded by:
Robert M. Gates

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