Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), a frequent contributor to NiemanWatchdog, died May 30, 2008, apparently of a heart attack. Odom in recent years had been an aggressive critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and was one of the first to call for removing American troops from Iraq. For many years a highly popular professor at Yale, he had been director of the National Security Agency (NSA) under President Reagan from 1985 to 1988. Starting in February 2008 Odom was a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Previously had been a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute.
As NSA Director, Odom was responsible for the nation's signals intelligence and communications security. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Army's senior intelligence officer.
From 1977 to 1981, General Odom was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a member of the National Security Council staff, he worked upon strategic planning, Soviet affairs, nuclear weapons policy, telecommunications policy, and Persian Gulf security issues. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1954, and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1970.
General Odom’s latest book, America’s Inadvertent Empire, co-authored with Robert Dujarric, was published in early 2004 by Yale University Press. His previous book, Fixing Intelligence For a More Secure America, was published in January 2003 (Yale University Press). His book, The Collapse of the Soviet Military (Yale University Press, 1998), won the Marshall Shulman Prize. General Odom has also written America's Military Revolution: Strategy and Structure After the Cold War (American University Press, 1993); Trial After Triumph: East Asia After the Cold War (Hudson Institute, 1992); On Internal War: American and Soviet Approaches to Third World Clients and Insurgents (Duke University Press, 1992); and The Soviet Volunteers (Princeton University Press, 1973). He coauthored Commonwealth or Empire? Russia, Central Asia, and the Transcaucasus with Robert Dujarric (Hudson Institute, 1995).
General Odom published articles in Foreign Affairs, World Politics, Foreign Policy, Orbis, Problems of Communism, The National Interest, The Washington Quarterly, Military Review, and many other publications. A frequent radio and television commentator, he appeared on programs such as "The PBS News Hour," CNN, ABC's "Nightline", NBC News, C-Span, and BBC's "The World Tonight." He also was a periodic contributor to the op-ed pages of The NewYork Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and others.