John Poindexter

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Admiral John Poindexter PhD

Admiral John Marlan Poindexter (born August 12, 1936 in Odon, Indiana) is best known for serving as a prominent United States Department of Defense official, often becoming a controvesial figure in his high profile roles as Deputy National Security Advisor, and National Security Advisor for the Reagan administration, and during a brief stint as the Director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office for the administration of George W. Bush.


Education and early career

In 1958, Admiral Poindexter graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor of science in engineering. He earned his masters degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1961, and his PhD, also from Caltech, in 1964, writing on nuclear physics.

From 1961 to 1964, Poindexter was a laboratory assistant at Caltech, where he conducted laboratory research to further develop a model for understanding the Mossbauer effect with Nobel Laureate Rudolph Mossbauer.

Naval career

From 1958 to 1987, Poindexter served the United States Navy in various positions. As Deputy Commander of the Naval Education and Training Command, his duties included commanding the US Navy's extensive education and training programs, for which he initiated a project to develop a distributed data management system for more efficient management of training pipelines.

While commander of a destroyer squadron, he was Surface Warfare and ASW Commander of battle groups in the Western Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, and he developed new tactics and battle management procedures under the Composite Warfare Commander concept. As the commanding officer of a cruiser, he pioneered the shipboard use of computers to manage the ship's force portion of yard overhauls.

He was also an executive officer and a chief engineer of destroyers. His significant staff assignments included: Executive Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations, Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and Special Assistant for Systems Analysis to the Secretary of Defense.

US Executive branch service

Poindexter went on to serve in the Reagan Administration as Military Assistant, from 1981 to 1983, as Deputy National Security Advisor from 1983 to 1985, and as National Security Advisor from 1985 to 1986. From 1983 to 1985, Poindexter was responsible for leading and managing the National Security Council staff as chairman of the Crisis Pre-planning Group. As National Security Advisor, Vice Admiral Poindexter was responsible for providing recommendations to the President on national security, foreign policy and defense policy.

Major events in which he played a significant role for the Executive branch included: the Strategic Defense Initiative, Operation Urgent Fury, the Achille Lauro incident, Operation El Dorado Canyon (in response to Libyan terrorist attacks, credited with ceasing Libyan finance of terrorism), the Reykjavik Summit with the Soviets, peaceful transition of government in the Philippines, and the Iran-Contra Affair.

Poindexter was convicted on multiple felony counts on April 7, 1990 for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair. The convictions were reversed in 1991 on the grounds that the prosecution's evidence may have been tainted by exposure to Poindexter's testimony before the joint House-Senate committee investigating the matter, in which Poindexter's testimony was compelled by a grant of 'use immunity'. The prosecution was not able to re-try the case.

Defense contractor work

From 1988 to 1989, Poindexter was senior scientist at Presearch, Inc., which had primarily been involved with defense studies and analysis. Faced with anticipated defense budget reductions, Poindexter joined the firm to develop new commercial enterprises. He designed and developed hardware and software for the prototype of a digital real-time, imaging system to be used for physical security of high value facilities. It was used to obtain a contract for a nuclear power plant security system.

From 1990 to 1996, Poindexter served as co-founder of TP Systems, Inc., a software development firm specializing in commercial software for the IBM PCs and compatibles; Poindexter was the chief designer and programmer. Development included a symbolic debugger for multi-tasking environments, a BBS communications program, and numerous utility programs.

From 1993 to 1996, Poindexter served as a consultant to Elkins Group. Elkins was a business alliance with Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which has developed the Elkins Interactive Training Network (EITN), a satellite based training delivery system. Poindexter was the chairman of the Maritime Advisory Committee and a member of Elkins' board of directors. He also provided advice on strategic planning.

From 1996 to 2002 Poindexter served as senior vice president for SYNTEK Technologiex. SYNTEK is a small high technology firm with contracts in domestic and international defense and commercial business. Poindexter was responsible for high-level advice on management and direction of information systems projects (for example Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's Project Genoa).

Recall to public service

From December, 2002, to August, 2003, Poindexter served as the Director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office (IAO). The controversial mission of the IAO was to imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components, and prototype closed-loop information systems that will counter asymmetric threats (most notably, terrorist threats) by achieving total information awareness: enabling preemption; national security warning; and, national security decision making.

Poindexter also faced immense criticism from the media and politicians about the Policy Analysis Market project, a futures market that would have allowed trading in, and profiting from, such events as the assassination of heads of state and acts of terrorism. The controversy over the futures market led to a Congressional audit of the IAO, which revealed a fundamental lack of privacy protection for American citizens. Funding for the IAO was subsequently cut and Poindexter retired from DARPA on August 12, 2003.

External links

Biographical links

  • ( - 'Dr. John Poindexter Bio'
  • ( - John Poindexter resume (archived from google cache)
  • ( - 'Who is John Poindexter?'

Iran-Contra links

  • ( - 'Iran-Contra: White House e-mail'
  • ( - 'The Iran-Contra Scandal', David Wallechinsky
  • ( - Report of Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh, US Congressional Record (June 30, 1992)
  • ( - 'John Poindexter, "Outstanding American": Ari Fleischer salutes a mendacious former national security adviser', Timothy Noah (February 25, 2002)

Total Information Awareness links

  • ( - 'Senator Assails "Total Info Awareness"', Roggie McFadden (January 17, 2003)
  • ( - Poindexter's resignation letter to DARPA Director Anthony Tether (August 12, 2003)
  • (,4273,4358017,00.html) - 'No more Mr. Scrupulous Guy: How one of the two brains behind the Iran-Contra scandal this week became one of America's most powerful men', John Sutherland, The Guardian (February 18, 2002)
  • ( - 'Meet Big Brother'
  • ( - 'Too Much Information' (opinion) New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg (December 9, 2002)
  • ( - 'Transcript of Pentagon briefing on Poindexter's "TIA" program' (November 24, 2002)
  • ( - 'Poindexter to Leave Pentagon Research Job: Project to Create Futures Market on Events in Middle East Caused Controversy', Bradley Graham, Washington Post (August 1, 2003)

Preceded by:
Robert McFarlane
National Security Advisor
Succeeded by:
Frank Carlucci

Template:End box


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools