last updated: August 29, 2007
- Defense Policy Board: Former Member
- Project for the New American Century: Signatory
- Committee for the Liberation of Iraq: Former Member
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Described as Donald Rumsfeld's "right-hand man" in the early years of the George W. Bush administration by the Weekly Standard's William Kristol and Robert Kagan (Weekly Standard, May 14, 2001), Chris Williams has been involved in several key right-wing defense initiatives. Williams was a member of the Pentagon's Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel, which was headed by Keith Payne and tasked with implementing the Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review; he was a signatory to a 2003 Project for the New American Century letter calling for increased defense spending; and he was a member of the now-defunct neoconservative-led Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.
Williams attracted attention as a member of the Defense Policy Board (DPB) around the beginning of the Iraq War. Like Richard Perle, who was the driving force behind the board's activities at the time, Williams was criticized for having a financial stake in the defense industry at the same time that he urged hawkish policies. In Williams' case, he was serving as a lobbyist for a number of defense contractors as a partner at the firm Johnston & Associates (Center for Public Integrity, March 28, 2003). His term on the DPB was slated to end in June 2007, according to the Federal Advisory Committee Database.
Williams joined the Richard Perle-chaired DPB in August 2001. During his tenure, Williams participated in a number of right-wing initiatives, most notably the Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel, which was designed to help institute Bush's Nuclear Posture Review that recommended the continued buildup of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
In March 2003, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported on the links between DPB members and defense contractors, including an analysis of Williams and Perle. Perle resigned his chairmanship of the DPB in response to numerous press reports documenting his financial ties.
The CPI reported: "Chris Williams is one of four registered lobbyists to serve on the board, and the only one to lobby for defense companies. Williams, who served as a special assistant for policy matters to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld after having been in a similar capacity for Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), joined Johnston & Associates after leaving the Pentagon. Although the firm had represented Lockheed Martin prior to Williams' arrival, the firm picked up three large defense contractors as clients once Williams was on board: Boeing, TRW, and Northrop Grumman, for which the firm earned a total of more than $220,000. The firm lobbied exclusively on defense appropriations and related authorization bills for its new clients. Johnston & Associates is more often employed by energy companies; its founder, J. Bennett Johnston, is a former Democratic senator from Louisiana who chaired the Energy Committee" (Center for Public Integrity, March 28, 2003).
In August 2004, Williams became a member of the advisory board of the Cincinnati-based O'Gara Group, which says its aim is to " build a global products and services company focused on solutions for counter-terrorism and low intensity conflict." Williams is also a member of the Aspen Institute's Aspen Strategy Group, which also includes Thomas O'Gara (chairman of the O'Gara Group), Robert Kagan, and Robert Zoellick.
During his time on the DPB, Williams also became vice president for federal programs of Oakley Networks, a cyber-security firm that lauds itself as "the insider threat protection standard for ... [the] U.S. Department of Defense." While he was still on the DPB, Williams attended the Department of Homeland Security's "Cyber Security Bidders Conference" in May 2007 in the capacity of VP for Oakley (see DHS, "Attendee List"). He is also been a member of the Business Advisory Board of Arxan Technologies, another cyber-protection company, as is William Schneider Jr.
Williams serves on the Board of Advisers of Henry Sokolski's Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC). In 1996, Williams contributed a right-leaning chapter entitled "DOD's Counterproliferation Initiative: A Critical Assessment," to Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties, a volume edited by Sokolski. Paul Wolfowitz and Kenneth Timmerman also contributed chapters to the volume.
Williams first became prominent in politics as a congressional staffer in the 1990s. He served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee from 1991 until 1997, and then served as deputy staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 1997 to 1999. He began his lobbying career during this period.
After working with then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Republican of Mississippi) as a foreign policy adviser beginning in 1999, Williams joined the staff of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2001 as a special assistant for policy matters (Center for Public Integrity, March 28, 2003).
Although he appears to have had Rumsfeld's confidence, the highlight of Williams' short career with the Pentagon was a minor scandal that led allies to complain that he had been betrayed by his superiors. In May 2001, Williams sent a memo to the Joint Chiefs of Staff announcing that the Pentagon was suspending the military exchange program between the United States and China. According to Kagan and Kristol, "When word of the decision became public ... national security adviser Condoleezza Rice went ballistic. Rumsfeld's entirely unsurprising decision, we are told, caught her entirely by surprise. The White House immediately repudiated Rumsfeld, insisting that contacts with the Chinese would continue, though on a case-by-case basis. Even more inexcusable was the White House's decision, with Rumsfeld's evident approval, to make Chris Williams the fall guy. Administration officials put out word that Williams had blown it. He had 'misinterpreted' and 'misunderstood' Rumsfeld's order. This is ludicrous. There is not the smallest chance that Chris Williams could have so badly misunderstood his boss" (Weekly Standard, May 14, 2001).
Rumsfeld responded to the Standard's accusation that he had caved to Rice and betrayed Williams by saying that "Bill Kristol is a terrific guy and a good friend, and sometimes he overstates for emphasis" (Meet the Press, May 6, 2001).
Williams left Rumsfeld's staff shortly after the incident and began working as a lobbyist at Johnston & Associates. As of mid-2007, Williams appears to have left Johnston & Associates.
In 2004, Williams was one of the principal authors of a study on "Defense Reform for a New Strategic Era" organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A New York Times report on the study said many of its recommendations "parallel efforts by Mr. Rumsfeld to make the military leaner and more agile" (March 17, 2004).
Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.
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Christopher Williams Résumé
- Aspen Institute: Member, Aspen Strategy Group
- Nonproliferation Policy Education Center: Member, Board of Advisers
- Center for Strategic and International Studies: Report Author
- Committee for the Liberation of Iraq: Member
- Project for the New American Century: Letter Signatory (2003)
- Department of Defense: Former Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Member of George W. Bush Transition Team; Former Special Assistant to Donald Rumsfeld
- Pentagon's Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel: Former Member
- Pentagon's Defense Policy Board: Former Member
- National Nuclear Security Administration: Former Member, Advisory Committee
- U.S. Senate: Adviser to Trent Lott, (1999-2001); Former Legislative Assistant for National Security Affairs to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Former Legislative Assistant for Foreign Affairs to Rep. Robert Lagomarsino (R-CA)
- Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Deputy Staff Director and Budget Director (1997-1999)
- House Armed Services Committee: Professional Staff Member (1991-1997)
- Arxan Technologies, Inc: Member, Business Advisory Board
- O'Gara Group: Member, Board of Advisers
- Oakley Networks: Vice President of Federal Programs
- Johnston & Associates: Former Partner
- University of California, Los Angeles: B.A., Political Science
- Georgetown University: M.A., Government
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Right Web tracks militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy.
SourcesRobert Kagan and William Kristol, "The 'Adults' Make a Mess," Weekly Standard, May 14, 2001, http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=print&id=698.
Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), "NPEC's Leadership," http://www.npec-web.org/Frameset.asp?PageType=Staff.
Walter F. Roche Jr., "Consultants Profit from Their Pentagon Ties," Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2004: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0815-06.htm.
Andrew Verloy and Daniel Politi, "Advisers of Influence: Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors," Center for Public Integrity, March 28, 2003, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/after/2003/0328advisors.htm.
Federal Advisory Committee Database, http://fido.gov/facadatabase/public.asp.
Project on Government Oversight, "The Politics of Contracting—Northrop Grumman," Spring 2004, http://www.pogo.org/p/contracts/c/co-030611-northropgrumman.html.
Project for the New American Century letter to President Bush on defense spending, January 23, 2003, http://www.newamericancentury.org/defense-20030123.htm.
Chris Williams, "DOD's Counterproliferation Initiative: A Critical Assessment," in Henry Sokolski, ed., Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties (Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1996), http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/fp/b19ch14.htm.
Henry Sokolski, ed., Fighting Proliferation (Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press, 1996), List of Contributors, http://www.au.af.mil/au/aul/aupress/Books/b-19/b19authors.htm.
Meet the Press with Donald Rumsfeld, May 6, 2001, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/sidebars/rumsfeld.html.
Listing of Defense Policy Board members during Williams' tenure, http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/dpbmembers.html.
Right Web, Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/1573.
Johnston & Associates, Christopher A. Williams: Bio, http://web.archive.org/web/20050204064541/http://johnstondc.com/bio_williams.php.
"The O'Gara Group Forms Board of Advisers," Business Wire, August 13, 2004.
"About the O'Gara Group," O'Gara Group, Inc., http://www.ogaragroup.com/portfolio.htm.
Aspen Institute, Aspen Strategy Group, Member Bio: Christopher Williams, http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.675139/apps/nl/
Aspen Institute, Aspen Strategy Group, Member List, http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.612047/k.1222/Aspen_Strategy_Group.htm.
Oakley Networks, http://www.oakleynetworks.com/ .
Arxan Technologies, Business Advisory Board, http://www.arxan.com/software-piracy/business-advisory-board.php.
Department of Homeland Security, Cyber Security Bidder's Conference, Attendee List, http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:Qli8zJJOvdYJ:www.hsarpabaa.com/Solicitations/
Clark A. Murdock et al., "Beyond Goldwater-Nichols: Defense Reform for a New Strategic Era," Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 2004, http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/bgn_ph1_report.pdf.
Eric Schmitt, "Study Urges Reorganization to Streamline the Pentagon," New York Times, March 17, 2004, p. A30.