Jump to content

Bobby Ray Inman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bobby Ray Inman
Chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board
April 5, 1991 – January 20, 1993
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byJohn Tower
Succeeded byWilliam Crowe
14th Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
In office
February 12, 1981 – June 10, 1982
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byFrank Carlucci
Succeeded byJohn McMahon
Director of the National Security Agency
In office
July 1977 – February 12, 1981
PresidentJimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
DeputyBenson Buffham
Robert Drake
Ann Caracristi
Preceded byLew Allen
Succeeded byLincoln Faurer
Personal details
Born (1931-04-04) April 4, 1931 (age 93)
Rhonesboro, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of Texas, Austin (BA)
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
Years of service1951–1982
Rank Admiral
Battles/warsKorean War
Vietnam War
AwardsNavy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit

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

Early years


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 weighed 96 pounds (44 kg) 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]


Inman 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.

Inman “flatly rejected” Israel’s mistaken identity claim regarding the 1967 USS Liberty incident. He stated that “It is just exceedingly difficult to believe that [the USS Liberty] was not correctly identified.”[4] He said his conclusions were based on his talks with senior NSA officials who had direct knowledge at the time. Along with NSA Deputy Director for Operations Oliver Kirby, U.S. Air Force Major General John E. Morrison (Kirby’s successor), and Lieutenant General William E. Odom, he said he was unaware of any agency official at any time who dissented from the “deliberate” conclusion.

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 and forth to himself approving his solutions."[3]: 295 

In 1976, Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie published their paper, New Directions in Cryptography, introducing a radically new method of distributing cryptographic keys, which went far toward solving one of the fundamental problems of cryptography, key distribution. It has become known as Diffie–Hellman key exchange. However, when Hellman and two of his graduate students attempted to present their work on this on October 10, 1977 at The International Symposium on Information Theory, the National Security Agency warned them that doing so would be legally equivalent to exporting nuclear weapons to a hostile foreign power.[5][6] Inman led the NSA at the time, and he feared that encryption – which had so far only been used for military purposes – would be used by hostile foreign powers, reducing the ability of the NSA to collect signals intelligence. However, Hellman – who anticipated that the increasing use of electronic communications in private sector transactions would require encryption – proceeded to give the talk.[5] While this defied the NSA's threat of prosecution, Inman eventually realised Hellman's point and there was no prosecution. Hellman and Inman even became friends.[5] Public key cryptography now forms an essential component of internet security.

In 1980, Inman allowed an openly gay linguist at the NSA to maintain a security clearance. National policy on security clearances would not officially change until 1995 [7].

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 Limestone Ventures. He is a member of the board of directors 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.[8]

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.[9] 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)[10] 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.[11] As of 2013, he sits on the board of directors of Academi.[12]

Nomination for Secretary of Defense


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.[13]

During the press conference, Inman made angry remarks about comments by The New York Times columnist William Safire.[14] 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."[15]

International Signal and Control (ISC) Scandal


In 1994, after Bobby Ray Inman asked 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.[16]

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,[17] 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.[18]
  • 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.[19] 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.[20]



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.[21][22]

Awards and decorations

Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gold star
1st row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal
2nd row Legion of Merit Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal
3rd row Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Navy Occupation Service Medal
4th row National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star Korean Service Medal with four bronze stars Vietnam Service Medal
5th row Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit, Cheon-Su Medal South Vietnam Navy Distinguished Service Order (2nd Class) Vietnam Gallantry Cross with gold star
6th row Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

In 1982, Inman received the American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award presented by Awards Council member General David C. Jones at a ceremony in New Orleans.[23]

See also



  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". archive.fortune.com. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  2. ^ "Bobby Ray Inman". www.nndb.com. Retrieved 2016-11-20.
  3. ^ a b Budiansky, Stephen (2016). Code Warriors. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 297–301. ISBN 9780385352666.
  4. ^ "Experts on the USS Liberty".
  5. ^ a b c Tim Harford (24 April 2017). "Geeks v government: The battle over public key cryptography". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  6. ^ Henry Corrigan-Gibbs (December 2014). "Keeping Secrets". Stanford Magazine – Stanford Alumni Association. Archived from the original on 29 April 2017. Retrieved 29 April 2017.
  7. ^ "The First Openly Gay NSA Employee" (PDF). NSA.gov. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2024.
  8. ^ James Bamford, The Shadow Factory, Doubleday, 2008, p201
  9. ^ Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Biography of Bobby R. Inman Archived 2015-06-21 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 2015-06-14.
  10. ^ Pletz, John. "Michael Dell's view from the top", Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Austin American-Statesman, 2004 May 2.
  11. ^ Former Blackwater Security Firm Gets New Leaders in Image Makeover By Justin Fishel March 09, 2011, foxnews.com
  12. ^ "Academi board of directors". Archived from the original on 2017-10-24. Retrieved 2013-03-10.
  13. ^ Bobby Inman Withdrawal Press Conference
  14. ^ Safire, William (December 23, 1993). "Essay; Cold Comfort Level". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Adm. Inman Asks Clinton To Withdraw Nomination – The Tech
  16. ^ Bobby Ray Inman and South Africa
  17. ^ "RigPix Database – Clegg – FM-DX". www.rigpix.com. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  18. ^ 1992/93 UK Parliament: House of Commons document: HC 28 Serious Fraud Office. Annual report 5 April 1991 to 4 April 1992
  19. ^ "South Africa's Nuclear Autopsy". The Risk Report. 2 (1). January–February 1996. Archived from the original on 2009-02-27.
  20. ^ "Chile, Cardoen Industries". March 1994.
  21. ^ Shachtman, Noah. "[1]", Wired News, 2006 May 9.
  22. ^ "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", www.democracynow.org, 2006 May 17.
  23. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
Government offices
Preceded by Director of the National Security Agency
Succeeded by
Preceded by Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board

Succeeded by