Bobby Ray Inman

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Bobby Inman
Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, official CIA photo, 1983.JPEG
Chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
In office
April 5, 1991 – January 20, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Preceded by John Tower
Succeeded by William Crowe
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
In office
February 12, 1981 – June 10, 1982
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Frank Carlucci
Succeeded by John McMahon
Director of the National Security Agency
In office
July 1977 – February 12, 1981
President Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
Deputy Benson Buffham
Robert Drake
Ann Caracristi
Preceded by Lew Allen
Succeeded by Lincoln Faurer
Personal details
Born (1931-04-04) April 4, 1931 (age 85)
Rhonesboro, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Education University of Texas, Austin (BA)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1951–1982
Rank Admiral

Bobby Ray Inman (born April 4, 1931) is a retired United States admiral who held several influential positions in the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Early Years[edit]

Inman was born and raised in the community of Rhonesboro, Upshur County, Texas, in the eastern portion of the state. His father was the owner and operator of a gas station. Inman attended and graduated from Mineola High School. Inman recalled in 1986 that he was 5' 4" tall and weighted 96 pounds upon graduation, and he tutored athletes he admired during high school to keep from being bullied.[1]

Inman graduated from Mineola High School in Mineola, Texas at the age of 15,[1] in 1946.[2] He rode a bus from Mineola to Tyler Junior College, where he was a member of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. He graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in history at the age of 19. According to Budiansky, after joining the Naval Reserve during the Korean War, Inman then "rocketed up through the ranks of naval intelligence..." [3]


He served as Director of Naval Intelligence from September 1974 to July 1976, then moved to the Defense Intelligence Agency where he served as Vice Director until 1977. He next became the Director of the National Security Agency. Inman held this post until 1981. His last major position was as the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, a post he held from February 12, 1981 to June 10, 1982.

While simultaneously acting as the NSA Director and the CIA deputy director in early 1981, he modernized the collection process by setting up a joint facility in College Park, Maryland. According to Budiansky, Inman did so by "sending memos back anf forth to himself approving his solutions."[3]:295

Inman chaired a commission on improving security at U.S. foreign installations after the Marine barracks bombing and the April 1983 US Embassy bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. The commission's report has been influential in setting security design standards for U.S. Embassies.

After retirement from the Navy, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC) in Austin, Texas for four years and Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Westmark Systems, Inc., a privately owned electronics industry holding company for three years. Admiral Inman also served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1987 through 1990.

Admiral Inman’s primary activity since 1990 has been investing in start-up technology companies, where he is a Managing Director of Gefinor Ventures and Limestone Ventures. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Massey Energy Company and of several privately held companies. He serves as a Trustee of the American Assembly and the California Institute of Technology. He is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

President Clinton nominated him as Secretary of Defense, but he withdrew his nomination (see below).

Inman also was on the board of SAIC.[4]

Since 2001, Inman has held the LBJ Centennial Chair in National Policy at The University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, and in 2005 and again in 2009 was the school's interim dean.[5] Inman graduated from Texas with a bachelor's in history in 1950.

Inman has also served on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dell Computer, SBC Corporation (now AT&T)[6] and Massey Energy.

In 2011 he became head of the board of directors of Xe Services, formerly Erik Prince's Blackwater and now known as Academi.[7] As of 2013, he sits on the Board of Directors of Academi.[8]

Nomination for Secretary of Defense[edit]

Inman was announced as President Bill Clinton's choice to succeed Les Aspin as Secretary of Defense on December 16, 1993, initially receiving broad bipartisan support. He accepted the post at first, but withdrew his nomination during a press conference on January 18, 1994.[9]

During the press conference, Inman made angry remarks about comments by New York Times columnist William Safire.[10] Safire wrote paragraphs on Inman's "anti-Israel bias shown", and ended in a four-point list of other negative qualifications. In reply, Inman suggested that Safire had recruited Senator Bob Dole of Kansas to engage in a "vitriolic attack" on Inman, and also claimed that Dole and Senator Trent Lott were planning to "turn up the heat" on his nomination.

Inman at the LBJ Presidential Library in 2016

Dole's reaction was to state that "I have no idea what's gotten into Bobby Inman... Admiral Inman's letter doesn't make any sense to me." Lott appeared even more surprised, saying that "I am floored by [Inman's] bizarre press conference", while an unnamed White House aide added: "Most of us were glued to the tube, our mouths open in shock."[11]

International Signal and Control (ISC) Scandal[edit]

In 1994, after Bobby Ray Inman requested to be withdrawn from consideration as Defense Secretary, his critics speculated that the decision was motivated by a desire to conceal his links to International Signal and Control (ISC). Inman was a member of the board of directors of the company, which was allegedly either negligent or approved illegal exports.[12]

Originally called ESI (Electronic Systems International), the company manufactured sub-assemblies for the AGM-45 Shrike and RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles in 1974, and just after the Vietnam war which was part of a standard arms contract for the US defense administration (DCAS). The company also had a commercial repair facility of two meter portable amateur ("ham") radios from a company in New Jersey called Clegg,[13] and manufactured communications helmet radios for firemen, and electronic outdoor bug zappers.

ISC was involved in two major indiscretions, for which CEO James Guerin received a 15-year prison sentence:

  • It defrauded and caused the collapse of the British company Ferranti, which acquired it in 1987.[14]
  • It exported classified military technology to South Africa, which was then forwarded to third countries, notably Iraq.

From 1984 to 1988, ISC sent South Africa more than $30 million in military-related equipment, including telemetry tracking antennae to collect data from missiles in flight, gyroscopes for guidance systems, and photo-imaging film readers, all of which would form the "backbone" of a medium-range missile system. Some of this technology was reportedly transferred to Iraq.[15] Another link to Iraq was the supply of the specifications for the Mk 20 Rockeye II cluster bomb through Chilean defense company Cardoen Industries, which was able to build an almost identical weapon that was subsequently used against coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War of January–February 1991.[16]


In 2006, Inman criticized the Bush administration's use of warrantless domestic wiretaps, making him one of the highest-ranking former intelligence officials to criticize the program in public.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT ADMIRAL BOBBY INMAN? He has never earned a nickel of profit. But savvy financiers, impressed by his ideas on restoring America's edge, are behind him in a bold new business venture. - November 10, 1986". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  2. ^ "Bobby Ray Inman". Retrieved 2016-11-20. 
  3. ^ a b Budiansky, Stephen (2016). Code Warriors. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 297–301. ISBN 9780385352666. 
  4. ^ James Bamford, The Shadow Factory, Doubleday, 2008, p201
  5. ^ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Biography of Bobby R. Inman, retrieved 2015-06-14.
  6. ^ Pletz, John. "Michael Dell's view from the top", Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Austin American-Statesman, 2004 May 2.
  7. ^ Former Blackwater Security Firm Gets New Leaders in Image Makeover By Justin Fishel March 09, 2011,
  8. ^ Academi Board of Directors
  9. ^ Bobby Inman Withdrawal Press Conference
  10. ^ Safire, William (December 23, 1993). "Essay; Cold Comfort Level". New York Times. 
  11. ^ Adm. Inman Asks Clinton To Withdraw Nomination - The Tech
  12. ^ Bobby Ray Inman and South Africa
  13. ^ "RigPix Database - Clegg - FM-DX". Retrieved 2017-01-30. 
  14. ^ 1992/93 UK Parliament: House of Commons document: HC 28 Serious Fraud Office. Annual report 5 April 1991 to 4 April 1992
  15. ^ "South Africa's Nuclear Autopsy". The Risk Report. 2 (1). January–February 1996. 
  16. ^ "Chile, Cardoen Industries". March 1994. 
  17. ^ Shachtman, Noah. "[1]", Wired News, 2006 May 9.
  18. ^ "Ex-NSA Head Bobby R. Inman on the National Security Agency’s Domestic Surveillance Program: “This Activity Was Not Authorized Archived May 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.",, 2006 May 17.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Lew Allen
Director of the National Security Agency
Succeeded by
Lincoln Faurer
Preceded by
Frank Carlucci
Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
Succeeded by
John McMahon
Preceded by
John Tower
Chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board

Succeeded by
William Crowe