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# Bobby Ray Inman

### Senior Trustee and Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy Emeritus Professor, Emeritus, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin

By David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project

October 29, November 5, 9, 15, 22, 29, December 6, 13, 20, 2021, and January 3, 12, 2022

DAVID ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Friday, October 29th, 2021. It is my great pleasure to be here with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Admiral Inman, it's an honor to be with you today. Thank you so much.

BOBBY RAY INMAN: My pleasure, and thank you.

ZIERLER: What I'd like to do today is start with a question that really brings us together, and it's a question that has a history that goes back over 30 years. What was your initial connection to Caltech? How did that come about?

INMAN: In my activities after I turned to the private sector—corporate boards, running a joint research venture. I had also done a number of not-for-profits. I was serving on the Business Higher Education Forum and the Council on Competitiveness. On both of those, Rube Mettler, who was the CEO of TRW—I knew that company well from my government days—we struck up a friendship. He also observed my constantly meddling in topics. He asked me one day in 1988 if I would consider being a trustee of Caltech. I said, "It's a great institution. I know from reputation. But I'm not a scientist." He said, "But we run the Jet Propulsion Lab for NASA, and we don't have anyone who knows Washington. It would be wonderful, if you're willing to do it, to help us find our way through the Washington maze." I agreed, and the year that followed, I was elected to be a trustee.

INMAN: TRW was largely a defense contractor, but they also did work for the intelligence community. When I was the director at NSA, there were a number of things that TRW did, and usually did well, all still off in the classified side of the house. That's how I knew TRW and to know what a terrific organization it was. It was later bought, I think by Northrop Grumman, I think after Kent Kresa left the presidency of Northrop. That was why Ruben Mettler came to my attention.

ZIERLER: When did you first start at Caltech on the board? Was it 1989?

INMAN: I think it's either in May or July of 1989. I think I was already on before the annual meeting in the fall. I was immediately assigned to the trustee committee overseeing JPL. Ed Stone was the director of JPL. A wonderful human being, career CIA, and industry, Hughes aviation, Bud Wheelon, was the chair of the committee. He was famous as the project manager for the first intelligence-collecting satellite, of which much has now been written and published. It was a Rube Goldberg operation where this huge bus had six camera bays in it, and it would take photographs overwhelmingly just over the Soviet Union, and then kick out a bus, a parachute would open, and an airplane flying out of Alaska would hook the parachute, recover it, and bring it back to the house. The bottom of the Pacific Ocean is littered with ones they failed to get.

A great breakthrough was when they learned electrical optical relay. Put up a relay satellite, and take the images, relay it through and into the ground station. It moved from waiting days, weeks to know what had been photographed, to four hours. Bud Wheelon, a wonderful human being. I became his vice chair. We launched a satellite to observe Mars, to actually land on Mars, and it failed. As we dug into the failure, we found that Ed Stone had compromised repeatedly with Dan Goldin, who was set on the launch vehicle he wanted to use. That meant you had to limit the weight, so out went redundancy, repeatedly. When there was a failure, there was no backup system. Ed had not told the committee that he had made those compromises, and we concluded that he was too passive in dealing with NASA, not pushing back when the risk to success was clearly being introduced, or elevated, I guess I should say. I got the challenge of chairing the search committee for Ed's successor. We ended up selecting Charles Elachi. I had a real battle with Dan Goldin, who wanted Griffin to be the administrator.

ZIERLER: Michael Griffin?

INMAN: Yeah. I prevailed, and Goldin later kindly acknowledged that I had made the right decision. I have on my wall in my campus office a gift from Dan as he's stepping down as the administrator, and it has a little small flag and a pin that had flown in Discovery, and an image of the area of East Texas where I was born, raised, taken from the satellite, and a nice letter, acknowledging my contribution to NASA's success. It was a nice gesture back.

Now, a footnote here—when Mike Griffin became the administrator of NASA, they hid me. [laughs] Because he had very much resented that I had taken Elachi. Charles was the junior member of the executive community, well grounded in Caltech, and we were persuaded he would be a great director. And he was. Charles set out, at the outset, to bring up talent, bring in new talent. We escorted to retirement a number of senior people who probably stayed beyond their time, and we began a great long stream of successes.

But there was a running internal complaint, that NASA was being unfair to JPL. They weren't assigning them enough missions to let them grow and use their "full potential." Kent Kresa was the chairman of the special task force appointed by the president to evaluate where we were, listen to all these complaints, and Kent's direction was, "Stop complaining. Go compete! You've got talent. They've got all these other things out. Don't automatically wait for it to be assigned to one of the civil service labs. Go put in a proposal and compete!" He was extraordinarily successful, and suddenly JPL had more business than they could possibly handle, and grew to a size—outgrew the building, the facilities. Painful lesson, because then we went into a budget slump, had to do a reduction in force and the rest of it, settled at about 5,000 members of JPL, who can fit in the facilities we have. As you get additional missions, instead of automatically setting out to build them in-house, go contract out with industry. Judicious choices. Keep a tight control on for quality and for risk in the process, so that we didn't repeat growing to 9,000 and then having to reduce.

Now, they've crept up over time to over 6,000, so our controls didn't work that well, and we're just now in one of those modes of, "Do we pull it back a little?" But that's because of the very large missions that we've taken on, and we didn't have any big failures. The focus on redundancy was the other thing that I believe was a very significant factor in that. When it came time to replace Charles, Charles had groomed a successor, Jakob van Zyl, a South African, who had been Charles' student. He supervised him through his PhD. He had hired him at JPL. He had given him a lot of assignments, and he was very direct—I was chairing the search, the second time, co-chairing with Diana, which is how our friendship started.

ZIERLER: Diana Jergovic, of course.

INMAN: Yeah. But in Charles's view, there was only one successor. Mike Watkins had left Caltech to go to the University of Texas at Austin to help build up their space activities. His name popped up from a member who told us, "You all look at Mike Watkins in this process." He had not volunteered. We pulled him in. Ultimately, Dave Gallagher, insider, strong candidate, good manager, didn't have a PhD. At that point, the view of the president of Caltech was that the director should have a PhD to fit in his Caltech role, as senior vice president. That's not levied as a requirement on this ongoing search now. But Gallagher was probably the strongest internal broad manager in the process. Mike Watkins had run some major programs, GRACE and others, which had been very successful. Bobby Braun was NASA's favorite candidate. He had never been inside JPL. He had worked on things for JPL.

It was a pretty tough call as we came down to—they were the two surviving finalists for the president, but the slight weight for Mike because of his knowledge of JPL from having worked inside successfully as a program manager, and he fit the desire for a scientist who also managed engineers successfully, which you need in the director of the lab. Charles was not helpful, because we didn't select Jacob. It made the first year of Mike's tenure difficult, because people would turn to Charles for questions or advice. You've interviewed him; you know what a wonderful outgoing personality that Charles is. Watkins was not. He was detailed, thorough. What we kept hearing, as we were taking on more large projects, was risk, worry that we were headed toward failure for not paying enough attention to risk. That's how Dave became more deeply involved. He joined the Caltech board. He was called on to do special evaluation of programs, to tighten things up, but also reassure NASA.

ZIERLER: Dave who?

INMAN: David Thompson, our new chairman-to-be.

ZIERLER: Oh!

INMAN: But it was in that process that we came to have confidence in Mike. There was a little bit of an arrogance when he told me it was now his lab. He hired Bobby Baum, who had been his competitor. Did some good work on diversity, women, but difficult to find a minority with the depth of—who was willing to come to a less than star role. But I [focused] regularly on succession planning. I'm yet a third time looking in the process. That's a longwinded story of dealing with succession at JPL. That was the intent I set out on.

ZIERLER: Admiral, on that topic, given that we're in the middle of the search right now, what are the most important qualities that you're looking for in the successful candidate—where JPL is, what it's dealing with, going into the future?

INMAN: First, the director must be comfortable in dealing with complex engineering problems and frontiers of science. Now is a more unique time, in that we've got Mars Sample Return in 2028. What else are you going to try to accomplish on Mars with unmanned research? What do you do next? Where's the vision? How do you develop a vision for what comes after, and a vision where NASA increasingly has handed off to commercial enterprises manned exploration of space. How does that fit into the nucleus for a Jet Propulsion Lab? So, somebody very comfortable with complex engineering and science problems, who has the orientation for thinking, "What comes next?" How do you bring together and develop a clear vision of ten years from now, what should JPL be doing?

Then optimally, somebody who is a superb manager, who can acquire talent, who's attentive to diversity and equity and inclusion, where we've not done nearly as well as we'd like. There's an ongoing effort, but it has not produced a lot of strong results. That may be about to change in the selection. We have a superb woman candidate from outside, that if I had a bet right now, I think she'll be the choice. And that's going to be the first woman director of JPL.

ZIERLER: Maybe it's about time a woman directed JPL.

INMAN: Yeah. And she has already demonstrated many of the things I've just described in the process. The criticism of Mike from inside was he wasn't warm and fuzzy. He was so focused on detail, performance, and risk, which is what we wanted, six years ago. We would have liked to have had the others, as well. One of the things I applaud about Mike—whenever we had a big success, the people in front of the television were the managers. In Charles Elachi's time, in front of the camera was always Charles. Mike pushed out the ones who had actually done the work to be the ones who responded. Very successful. Biden called the lab twice after the last big success. The idea of tucking a tiny helicopter underneath the lander was a JPL idea. Great resistance from NASA. Eventually very reluctantly agreed to let it be there. When it actually flew, all you heard was "NASA, NASA, NASA." No mention that this was a JPL idea that they had opposed that in fact worked spectacularly. And offers new ways of thinking about how you explore on a foreign base place.

ZIERLER: Admiral, if we can go back to 1988, 1989, and your point of connection with Caltech, what does it say about where Caltech wanted to go strategically that it needed somebody with your experience and your connections on board?

INMAN: Uneasy relationships with NASA, and particularly with the administrator. We survived Goldin. Tom Everhart was president. We accelerated our relationship with Congress. I was sufficiently near my retirement stage when I had dealt with both the Senate and the House, and both sides of the aisle, greatly. There was a new speaker that I had interacted with when he was just a member. Not a great fan, but he's smart as he can be. So Tom and I went to see Newt Gingrich about Caltech issues; not JPL, but investment in science. He sent for Walker, who was chairing the Science Committee, and said [three knocks] "These are things—I want these done." It was pretty amazing watching how that conversation turned into decisions to invest in science, to push the frontiers and things. So that began.

Tom and I talked to committee sessions in Congress, all behind the scenes, not public testimony, but trying to raise the vision of Caltech as an entity in that timeframe. As you see, I'm beginning to branch out from the JPL connection to look more broadly at Caltech. I had all kinds of ideas about education, diversity, dealing with it at UT Austin, where I had become an adjunct member of the faculty. At UT, as part of the package, they got MCC at Austin eight new one-million-dollar chairs, computer science and electrical engineering. Peter O'Donnell called me to say, "How important was that?" I said, "Very." He said, "Well, hell, let's do it right. I'll do those eight. Let's go raise another eight and have the system match them—let's do 32 one-million-dollar chairs, across natural science and engineering." In the 1983/1984 timeframe, that was a lot.

But the other—$750,000 a year for ten years for grant aid to graduate students in computer science and electrical engineering. Come the spring of 1985, graduation, more than half those getting master's degrees in computer science were not U.S. nationals. I said, "Gee, what we need to do is focus more on U.S." That fall, they filled every vacancy with that$18,500 grant with students—GRE is 200 points above what they had been drawing before. People could live and raise their family on eighteen-five while they pursued their degrees. So I brought that question to Caltech, and got rained on by the faculty.

ZIERLER: What was the concern?

INMAN: They wanted those foreign graduate students, who were their best researchers. They wanted the best researchers to work on their projects, that they could find, and they were often not U.S. nationals. So I backed off that campaign.

ZIERLER: Admiral, who were some of the fellow trustees who helped introduce you to the ways of Caltech when you first joined?

INMAN: Mettler, clearly. Wally Weisman. I'm trying to remember who some of the other senior ones were, when we transitioned from Everhart to David Baltimore to Jean-Lou to Tom Rosenbaum.

ZIERLER: What about among the faculty and the administration at Caltech? Were there any professors that you became close with?

INMAN: I wouldn't say close, but I came to know well and admire. Tom Tombrello, who has passed, sought me out. I was underwhelmed with the provost. Went through two different ones, whose ambition to be the president, in my view, overrode a lot of the rest. The first one left and went on to Washington, and then to other locales. The second one, ten years, I think is back on the faculty. I did not come close to either one of them. I was spending time trying to shepherd the president's relationship with the administrator of NASA. Sean O'Keefe, Secretary of the Navy, all the rest of that, we were good friends, from the Bohemian Club. The stormy relationship between David Baltimore and Sean O'Keefe, I managed to help sort of smooth the waters and get us past that.

ZIERLER: What was the issue there? Did it precede David Baltimore's tenure as president of Caltech?

INMAN: David, I think, wanted more independence in running things than NASA's control. It's the eternal problem, through 32 years now. I was very comfortable with FFRDCs from my time in Defense. After I retired, one of my not-for-profit activities, I became a trustee of the Center for Naval Analysis, at the request of the CNO, who said, "You're not doing anything for the Navy. I need you to serve on the board of—" I did that for 18 years. So I'm very acquainted with FFRDCs, and how they act, and how they could operate. From the beginning, what I found at NASA was resentment from the civil servants. All the other NASA labs are civil service labs. The ranking non-political appointee always was out of a civil service background. Repeatedly, whenever they get a chance, they would work trying to divert, create JPL into being another NASA center. Resentment that they didn't go through the same personnel cuts, that they got paid better. All kinds of things that come from being an FFRDC managed by Caltech. We're going through that same struggle all over again. Every time you have a change of an administrator, the civilian career civil side see an opportunity to go—take those people who feel privileged and make sure they understand they're just like all the other labs. It's repeating itself even now.

Coming back to your question before that, serving on the Executive Committee when I was chairing the JPL Committee—when I reached 72, at that point you're no longer a chair of committees when you became a senior trustee. But I stayed on the Executive Committee as an at-large member until the current time. I served on the Nominating Committee, looking for trustees. Gayle Wilson was my first find. Had real troubles selling her, because of her husband's position. But she was a biology major at Stanford. I was persuaded by that science background and the knowledge of Washington from her husband [Pete Wilson] who served in the Senate. And she has shifted, but she's still involved. Then I guess the next one that I brought was Kent Kresa. There's a long, boring story of my interaction with Kent.

ZIERLER: When did you first meet Kent?

INMAN: When he was at DARPA. Then the long gap, he was at Northrup. I'll divert to this story. I had been approached by Lee Iacocca, who sent an airplane to Austin to bring me to Detroit, out to his residence. He had decided to create a Chrysler electronics company. He tracked my effort with creating MCC and running it. He wanted me to come be the first CEO. I told him I was flattered, I appreciated it, but I was fully committed. I had started in the venture capital world, along with everything else I was doing. Family was comfortable. Just didn't want to disrupt the process. He said, "Well, then you've got to find me somebody else." So I said, "Kent Kresa." So he sends the plane to pick Kent up and bring him, and—instant connection. Offered Kent the job. Kent went back to Northrup to tell Tom Jones that he had the offer and he was probably going to accept it. Tom Jones said, "Give me 24 hours before you make your mind up." Came back and said, "I've consulted with the board. If you stay, you will be my successor as the CEO of Northrup." So he stayed. He did go on the Chrysler board later, but Iacocca was still there, and when it was bought by Fiat, he left and ended up on the General Motors board.

But it was in that interim that—maybe he had already become the CEO of Northrup—introduced his name to the Nominating Committee. He came and was a wonderful addition to the board. He knew Washington—DARPA—and interacting. Ginny Weldon brought the scientific background. I came to know her from both serving on the board of Southwestern Bell Telephone, SBC, AT&T. She came, and she shifted to Life Trustee several years ago, personal problems and some health challenges. Who else? Mike Mullen. And there's somebody else in between there. I played a role in the Deborah McWhinney selection, because of a good friend of mine, E.C. Grayson, who knew her well, recommended her to me. I hadn't interacted that much. I'm pleased to see the number of people who have gone on to play good, strong roles.

Taking my turn as a trustee, I agreed to chair a committee evaluating Math, Physics, and Astronomy. They gave me some terrific talent from Stanford, from Princeton, from MIT, plus a couple of other trustees and some staff. I was the non-scientist, so I focused on the human equality equation and particularly on why we had so few women postdocs. We found they were going to Stanford, elsewhere, because they did not feel the climate at Caltech was inviting for a woman to come. Then as I got deeper into it, I found a lot of reservations in the undergraduates about how welcome women were. Did they feel they had equitable opportunity to succeed? My remarks in the final report were focused almost entirely on what we now call diversity, equity, and inclusion, and pretty roundly rejected by the provost, who thought, "Those are non-issues." But they were real issues. Anneila Sargent was one of the people I learned from, just a very talented individual, astronomy. Even though she had gone on to manage a number of things, she acknowledged that there were real—she had managed to overcome the challenges, but it was not a warm, welcoming place for a lot of people. So she was another one I learned a lot from along the way.

ZIERLER: Admiral, with the vantage of 30-plus years with Caltech, what were some of those original challenges when you joined the board, and how have they played out to today? What has been resolved? What remains a work in progress?

INMAN: JPL's future as a very productive national asset needs constant tending. Let me deal delicately with a side issue. We have a general agreement on the board that JPL can take on up to 20% of its business from non-NASA customers, as long as NASA agrees. These are often very highly classified projects. Their sustaining merit is that they are increasing the technical depth and breadth of the JPL employees which they can employ on future NASA programs, and breakthroughs in ways to go tackle tough national security problems. Five years ago, we were worried it was getting too large and going to break the 20% barrier. Now, it has gone down, and the challenge is getting approval through the NASA chain to take on additional work. That was the challenge of yesterday's meeting and outside discussions.

Again, it's going back—the administrator of NASA has to play a role in protecting—particularly if you let the bureaucracy decide what's going to be done, a lot of it will never occur. This takes me all the way back to my Navy days and the National Underwater Reconnaissance Program. My NSA days. The director has to be on the lookout for cutting-edge advances that you frequently want to protect with the highly tight security because you don't want an adversary to become aware of a potential breakthrough talent. So how you establish, create, and manage what I refer to as black programs is always a challenge.

As I come back to JPL and JPL's future, it's a small percentage of their overall mission, at its largest less than 20%, but it is at the cutting edge of breakthroughs, what may be important ten years, 20 years from now, for the broader NASA mission, and which right now serves a national security need. That's ongoing. The viability of JPL as an FFRDC in a climate—Mike Watkins worked hard at giving more business to the other NASA centers, trying to lower the animosity. Animosity because JPL was winning all the contracts. Charles was not reluctant to boast about that. Some of that did come from Congressional intercession as well, which Charlie Bolden hated in the process. An early trip with Tom Rosenbaum to Washington to deal with Charlie Bolden, who had become very resentful of Congressional support for things for JPL, and he was trying to cut off—he didn't want anybody from JPL or its trustees interacting with Congress on NASA business, so we had a pretty sharp confrontation, also on this whole FFRDC issue, which Tom alleges was helpful over time, but it was a direct confrontation. I'm not reluctant to be forthright about my views if I think something is not right or is not moving in a positive direction, process.

ZIERLER: How has Caltech played to its strengths, and what are the main works in progress, as you see them, over 30 years?

INMAN: Significant investment in biology, chemistry, computer science, the interaction of the three, in breakthroughs. Some great local academic leadership. The African American in biology Steve Mayo, started a couple of companies on his own, which have been successful, but he stuck with Caltech and its mission. And Jackie—

ZIERLER: Barton?

INMAN: Tremendous talent in chemistry. Computer science, not as strong, but interacting. And the number of students who want to do computer science has gone up because of all the money being paid by Alphabet and Facebook and Amazon and all. There was always the issue of scale of investment. Clearly the capital campaigns have made a huge difference. And as time has moved, the first gigantic gift, which for Caltech was from Gordon and Betty Moore, all across the sciences but particularly astronomy, Keck, and the enabling of computer science. The next even larger gift for sustainability was more recently from the Resnicks. And a series of other large gifts. These have often translated into new buildings and refurbishing labs, et cetera. Caltech is in far better shape for pushing the frontiers of research from a facilities point of view.

Hiring has gone well over time, and even the provost that I was not a particular admirer of did a good job on faculty hiring. The focus on what were the biggest problems in front of the country, and what could Caltech contribute, and how, that has pretty much been a sustained. In retrospect, hiring David Baltimore was controversial, because he had been let go from Rockefeller, because of a problem with Congress. I think David did a very good job, but more importantly, he went back to the lab and has continued to push frontiers. He was a major academic player in the AIDS fight. I'm less of a fan of Jean-Lou Chameau. He had come from Georgia Tech, clearly very bright. We never quite connected on the same level that I had with the previous presidents or with Tom, so I may not be entirely fair, because I didn't have the same degree of personal interaction. Money was a big deal. Then when he got the huge offer from then Crown Prince Abdullah to go create King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, it was a deal that let him live in Paris but work in Saudi Arabia. I did not regret his departure. Then when we got Tom out of Chicago. I continue to think it was a home run. And Diana, who followed along.

ZIERLER: Has its insistence to stay small worked strategically for Caltech?

INMAN: Yeah.

ZIERLER: Why? What's so important about that?

INMAN: Scale. The flexibility in hiring. Flexibility in wonderful philanthropy to let you create the best laboratories, which let you hire the best people. We have some interesting characters that come out of this. Our Nobel laureate who is now one of the leaders of the President's Committee on Science and Technology, Frances Arnold, she's a whirlwind. One of her husbands was Sean Bailey's father. I sat next to Frances at a trustee dinner, and she suddenly hit upon one of her younger sons, who was an enlisted person in the military, considering getting out—I should give him advice and get him focused on a proper career. I undertook the mission, and I liked him. He ended up—he works in JPL.

ZIERLER: Oh, wow!

INMAN: He didn't go on back to the college track she wanted him on. But huge personality, incredibly bright, talented, but again, not the least reluctant to break china where she sees it as constructive or where she wants to go.

ZIERLER: Has the role of the trustee changed over the years, in terms of expectations, in terms of commitment, or has it more or less stayed the same?

INMAN: It has been examined, tested, revised. David Lee has done a terrific job as chairman. He stayed too long, in my view, so we didn't get as much change the last two or three years, maybe. Again, we're going through yet again—this is about the third time in my 31 years—of examining what's the structure of trustee, senior trustee, life trustee. How long should people serve? Should you have term limits? When I listen to all this bubbling, and Mike Mullen who I helped recruit was beginning to raise the issue, I said, "Are you all trying to tell me that I ought to go ahead and either shift to life or retire?" Tom Rosenbaum kindly told me he still very much valued my input, so I simply calmly stayed where I am. I guess this term ends in 2023. Maybe that's the right time to shift to Life Trustee, if they haven't told me I should before then.

ZIERLER: It does beg the question, of all the things you could be doing right now, you're still here, hard at work for Caltech. Why? What's so special about it for you?

INMAN: First, it is an incredible institution. Its national rankings in so many ways simply say—keeping it small and focused, not trying to be the biggest but try to be the best at what you do, clearly, in my view, has been very successful, continues to be successful. And at attracting talent. I deal with brilliant youngsters taking advanced math classes, and Caltech becomes one of the places they want to look at. Go all the way back to the visiting committee that I talked about chairing. For the math part, a professor from Princeton, which ranks right at the top on the math end, and his conclusion was that while Caltech's math was small, that it played way above its size because of thoughtful hiring of assistant professors and helping grow them to be dramatic players on the field, broadly.

ZIERLER: Meaning that's a hallmark of Caltech, that it supports its junior faculty?

INMAN: Yeah. At least in the math area, it had, and that's why he believed its math program was competitive nationally. That helped shape how I thought about a lot of these issues. On housing and relationships for the undergraduates, there had always been a big emphasis on student governance of their living arrangements, which didn't prepare for a world of drugs, and a world of social media, and the rest of it. We began to have some significant problems in that area. Then when the administration—I guess it was Jean-Lou, he did tackle that one, when they began to try to bring some order, discipline. The Bechtel family stepped in, built a large new facility. We therefore had much greater opportunity for on-campus living. Again, I look at one of the things that has helped keep Caltech where it is, is philanthropy focused on specific problem sets. The Broad Institute, way back. It was clearly the Bechtel gift which helped calm the housing problem. This generation is different. They've grown up with those devices in their hands from the time they were out of the cradle, practically.

ZIERLER: College freshmen are born after September 11th, now. How amazing is that?

INMAN: Yeah. And particularly look at it from age 90! Pretty astonishing, the changes. Diverting back to something before we started, I still do a lot of Inman's View of the World that people kindly come to listen to. I try to do it in about 35 minutes. Overarching threats, nuclear proliferation stays at the top. Pandemics have moved up from fifth. Cyber has moved up into third. International terrorism is still there. Narcotics trafficking is still there. Challenges—global warming, climate change, still there, getting a new push, examination.

ZIERLER: You've been talking about pandemics since 2003.

INMAN: Yeah. And my big question was were all the health organizations ready to deal with it? Now we know the answer is absolutely not. Migration. We saw its impact in Europe. We see it in the U.S., southern border. We see it with Stephen Miller trying to go to no immigration. We've done that through our history, as you well know, so we're back. We've been there again, and hopefully learned enough to solve. And to recognize that with every surge of immigrants, there has been a challenge, but second generation become significant contributors, and when we're lucky, the third ones become stars.

ZIERLER: It's the American way.

INMAN: Yeah.

ZIERLER: Admiral, before we move on to current interests, two overarching questions to stay on Caltech. Of all of the ways that you've contributed during your time as a member of the board, what are you most proud of, in terms of your skill set, in terms of the way you approach problems? What are you most proud of, in what Caltech has come to achieve?

INMAN: I think if I look for, like I said, a personal contribution, it's talent, searching for talent to fit a need—board members, leadership of JPL. I have meddled less with the appointments of the division managers across Caltech itself. That was always the provost's option, and I found pretty early my advice was not welcome in that category, so I've tried to support individual ones, whether it was Frances or Steve Mayo, or others. And Jackie Barton. I regret Tommy Tombrello's death. He was a principal source of gossip about what was really going on inside, and you miss having that inside view. Nobody has really replaced Tommy in that. I didn't go seek it; he volunteered it. But—talent. Spotting talent, supporting talent, focusing on solving problems.

I'm going to work on it again on the issue of NASA's support, facilitating funding of critical cutting-edge research to tackle very tough national security problems. A sad thing—I think maybe it's the nature of it—that sometimes you thought you solved a problem, and then here it is all over again, and then here it is yet again. History does repeat itself. So giving advice to presidents of Caltech on dealing with sticky outside issues. Often, it gets back to talent, and how to deal with when flaws pop up. What do you bring to the bank from past experience? The toughness to get somebody with a problem to admit that they have a problem and to deal with it. I had a lot of experience in this area throughout my career. Tom [Rosenbaum] and I did a lot of dialogue about how to go about dealing with it because he had no past experience in doing it. It has created a little jealousy on the trustee front.

ZIERLER: That you have this rapport, you mean?

INMAN: Yeah. But I had had the experience and Tom recognized that and used it. Happy with his outcome from it. Others resented they weren't in the center of the plan. This is not the first time I've encountered this sort of thing over 71 years in public space.

ZIERLER: Looking to the future, what are some of the key challenges that Caltech faces? And extrapolating there, what's the best way to confront them?

INMAN: Part of it is, how do they spend the resources they already have? We'll probably have to go back and take a hard look at how we've used all of Gordon Moore's money. How effective was our use of $600 million? ZIERLER: You're using the past tense. Is the pot empty? INMAN: I don't think it is. It's probably second or third generation now, of an allocation of it. But what do you learn from that, for looking at the Resnicks' gift? And recognizing everything you do isn't going to be a ball hit out of the park, but how do you not repeat mistakes for investments you made? Now, astronomy. Leadership role. The Keck, Keck II, the expansion. The Thirty Meter Telescope. Here's Ed Stone again. Got so committed to, "You have to be at Mauna Kea" that when you run into the fully anticipated problems with the native Hawaiians, all of which so much experience to say, "These are challenges you're going to have"—not anticipated, not dealt with. Now we're into it, and substantial financial commitments. Canary Islands, an acceptable alternative, not as desirable as Mauna Kea, the facilities already in place. ZIERLER: Do you think the NSF will ever fund not on American soil? INMAN: Well, they're going to be faced with it, if it's Canary Islands, or is it down in the Chilean desert. Whatever they're going to do. And judgment of what's too hard. When you're up where there's a political unwillingness to deal with activists, and it's not likely to change. So what comes along to disrupt and all that? A volcano erupting [in the Canary Islands]! Somebody said, "Suddenly that's going to create—" Do you really want to go to an island that's got active volcanoes? But circle—the energy, the effort, the money, to build the Thirty Meter Telescope, to try to keep the lead in astronomy. Was there another path? Could you have tried to put together consortia with the other effort that wants to build in Chile? Chile doesn't look as stable now when that plan began. They weren't willing to accept our technological approach. That comes to the issue of what works. There's a point of personal pride, that in 44 months of running NSA, I never went back to Congress for money to fund an overrun. What can we accomplish with the money we have, and get a deployable system, the system deployed, and collecting? And then add later additional features that we can't put in the first version. It worked, throughout. It also helped build a reputation in Congress that we were a safe place to invest, because we would deliver. Ten years later, 12 years later, a director got persuaded to put everything into a new approach and didn't pare it back, and ultimately lost the confidence of Congress. Now they ultimately used all the elements of technology they developed in future programs. None of the money was actually wasted. But that unwillingness to confront—"It's too complex to fit it all together from where we are today in this state of knowledge" and what's the value of going ahead and getting an advancement in the field to collect, and then add the other advancements as they are matured, and as you can fund them. That does take me all the way back around to what you do with sustainability. Also, let's look at the board. The board has always been at the cutting edge on technology transfer as compared to other universities. UT Austin is the worst case. Caltech is one of the very best, a private institution, not public money and all, but in maximizing both getting technology and supporting professors who will start their company but will also stay contributing at Caltech, as opposed to, they can't get any help so they leave, and they go create their company, but the university has no ownership, no future royalties, whatever, that comes out of it. That's an area, long established. I've never been part of it, and deliberately, because I was in the venture business, stayed away from it, because I didn't want any conflict of interest issue to raise, but unquestioningly admired how well it has been run. I'd give a B+ to the Nominating Committee's role over time. It has varied, depending on who was chair of the Committee and driving it, but maybe an A-, a B+. ZIERLER: Admiral, a more recent question—the renaming issue, taking down Millikan's name. What's your perspective on how this all played out? INMAN: A little bit of "The sky is falling." There clearly is a challenge. Why have we not recognized that challenge in earlier years and dealt with it? When we get caught, the country itself goes up in flames over statues and all. So we revisit? Well, for me, I didn't know anything about eugenics. I didn't know that part of the history, that we sterilized large numbers of people in the teens, 1920s, 1930s? Why didn't we deal with it then, or in the immediate years thereafter? Well, we didn't, and fast forward now 60, 70 years later, suddenly it's a big issue. And the names. Inman's view is that you put on the wall some "These people who contributed so much to Caltech unfortunately also supported activities like eugenics, and that was reprehensible." Balance the contributions they made along with acknowledging the flaws and the mistakes. You want people to learn lessons. Just removing their names, what lessons are going to be learned from that for the current generation, and the succeeding generations soon? As opposed to confronting issues before the country where things were—the whole Tuskegee thing, the syphilis experiments, those are reprehensible activities. Don't bury it, but don't also elevate it beyond the degree to which it impacted the larger movement in society. I have lots of Inman's Rules that they still, to my amazement, still play with. ZIERLER: I wonder how Inman's Rule would apply to this scenario? Let's say there's a new benefactor who's thinking about donating$500 million to Caltech, wants to put their name up on the building. But now they have a pause, and they say, "Well, maybe you'll take my name down in 100 years." What's the response there? Why shouldn't there be that concern? Or should there be?

INMAN: My answer back is, as long as you don't engage in any reprehensible activities, that's not a risk! If you've got things going on in your background that aren't going to look good in the light of day, then you probably ought not to make the gift, or we ought not to accept it.

ZIERLER: Was it important for the Committee, the trustees to understand that as you talk about what's reprehensible, that eugenics was rejected by scientists in their own time? It's not just that we're taking our own values and using them to judge something in the past.

INMAN: Why didn't we act, when it was rejected, at that point? Why didn't we acknowledge that this was activity done that was in fact counter to good science and good thinking? Bad news does not get better with age. That's a standard limit I have used for years. You've got bad news? Get it out as fast as you can. You're already on your way to a solution. Second, I have a pretty long career of being tolerant with mistakes as long as I learn about the mistake from those who perpetrated it. Because if they know they've made a mistake and they surface it, you're already halfway on your way to a solution, at least. It's when they try to hide their mistake, and it turns up by audit, by whatever. So while I'm forgiving of the first mistake, if they repeat the same mistake—I'm not a shouter or a screamer; things just get very chilly. And if I repeat it a third time—gone. I am a very strong believer in giving people the opportunity to perform. Have they made the right choice of where they want to perform? Is that within their toolkit? How well did they do?

I did this when the chief of Naval operations, over the objection of the chief of Navy personnel, gave me total control over the selection, assignment, moving of—everything except promotion of a little more than 1,000 Naval intelligence specialists. The first thing I did was have a group of warrant officers go do a selection board. Look at all of the jackets, people up to ten years of performance. Who were the top performers? Who were the ones below the 50% mark? The top performers I then sent to tough new assignments. The flag officers that I knew were on their way up from my time in the vice chief's office being a recorder for the flag promotion status. For those who were below, find a place where they can go work constructively, but they're not on a fast track for a promotion. You can find the Inman cheerleaders in the group that moved up, and you find my detractors in the group that didn't. That's probably fair. But mine was you had ten years to establish a performance record, where you wanted to perform. If you had done well, then I'll take a risk on you, let you do the next assignment. But no get-well tours. If you did not do well, don't expect me to put you in a very responsible job where, if you fail again, consequences are exceedingly high. Tough standard.

ZIERLER: Admiral, moving to the present, first question there, is there a family history of long-lived vitality that goes back? What's your secret right now?

INMAN: Paternal grandfather died of a heart attack at 58. Maternal grandfather died of a heart attack at 60. My father died of a heart attack of 62.

ZIERLER: Not good odds.

INMAN: They all tended to carry around pot bellies. They all smoked heavily. They loved desserts. Not big on exercise. Loved to hunt and fish. Paternal grandmother, 94. Maternal grandmother, 96. My mother, 104. My mother had five brothers. All of them—one was killed in his forties; the other four only lived into their nineties. They had a variety of physical problems, but cognitive skills stayed to the end. That line goes back to the maternal grandmothers' brothers. That's the Rouse side of the family. Longevity and cognitive skills. There's some dementia in the last couple years. My mother was very lucid until 102 and a half. Then it began to slide. Ever since I heard about Alzheimer's, I get a little bit more worried about that than anything else along the way.

I'm first generation to finish college. My mother had gone to college for a year. My father had not gone at all. Older sister married young. Multiple husbands along the way, and three daughters from the first husband. Younger brother and sister both finished college and went on, but I was the first one to get through, and at a younger age, as you know. But, what's more important—World War II, both parents working in defense industries in the Texas Panhandle. I stocked grocery store shelves when I was ten and 11, earning allowance money. I pumped gas when I was 12, 13. I'm not a dirty-fingernails guy naturally but I learned how to grease cars and things like that, at that stage. Good strong work ethic, early. I did not need a lot of sleep. I do now, but I didn't then. Fast-forward to being the director of Naval Intelligence. Suddenly I had 3,600 people working for me, six different organizations, at least half civilian. I had to learn new skills on the scene. Vietnam hadn't gotten to the final collapse yet, but we had already withdrawn. This is now 16 September 1974 to 30 July 1976.

ZIERLER: 1975?

INMAN: 1976 is when I went to be the vice—

ZIERLER: Oh, I thought you were talking about with Vietnam. Right.

INMAN: I'm going through my promotion cycle. In those twenty one months at DNI, we were scout master or scout mistress to 169 foreign attachés credited to the Navy Department, which meant every week, there were national days and name it. We learned to be very skilled with a good driver, and we'd hit three events in an evening. We learned to go in, go through the line, talk to them, go out the back door, get to the next one. Our boys were very small, so good excuse for not doing things on the weekend, because of family time. But whatever had gone on, I got up at 4:00 in the morning to work paper. I had been getting up that early when I was a briefer, so this was not a brand-new track. As I went off to my evening functions, they would bring two, sometimes three briefcases, and put them in a safe, in a basement in the quarters, and between 4:00 and 6:00, I'd go through all of it. At 6:00, they'd come and pick them up. By the time I got to the office at 7:30, everything was already out, and the thing was moving. What's the downside of that story? People stopped making decisions. It was easier to put something in the briefcase and have me decide than run a risk that I might second-guess their decision and raise an issue. It led to a total reorientation: How do you delegate? How do you track that delegation and use of the authority that you've delegated? So I took a very different perspective to my year at DIA as the vice director, but much more importantly, to my 44 months at NSA. Those skills translated on into the private sector.

INMAN: Right now, immediately, it's getting over my falls, and physical therapy two or three times a week. I'm 90; you saw I didn't use any cane. It's moving along pretty well.

ZIERLER: What happened? How did you fall?

INMAN: Balance has not been that good for the last four or five years, and I've taken—this shoulder, this elbow. We left on the 10th of August for Paris, same with the hotels. And then go on to Basel for eight days, seven nights to Amsterdam, a couple of nights, fly back. On the third day in Paris, we had been walking, went to see the waterlilies and all. Went down to the Place des Vosges, a lot of little restaurants. We always find one we like for lunch. Taxied back up to Place Vendôme, walk around the shops. Went into the Park Hyatt and missed a step, and I went smashing down on the marble floor. Put my arms up to protect my head. Elbow, shoulder, particularly the hip, tore a groin muscle, others. I was on blood thinner for AFIB and so the bruises were—and across the back as well. Then I've done a couple more, slipped off something and back. That's why coming down the steps was a big deal today.

ZIERLER: You look good!

INMAN: I'm almost back! And I'm trying to pack up a big office, bookcases the size of that wall filled. I had to go through and find which ones were inscribed to me, so put those in a separate stack. I'll keep those for the next move.

ZIERLER: This is your office at UT?

INMAN: Yeah. And then what I do with all the rest—I've gone through all the files. I've filled up an entire large container for shredding. What have I kept that I want to trigger memories? That's near term. Now, Caltech is taking a little more time than I planned because of the search and the process, every week, and the offline conversations that go on with making decisions.

ZIERLER: Are you consulting at all these days?

INMAN: I'm giving a lot of advice. One of the things that I'm most pleased with is the stream of youngsters who have been my students who show up in town, wanting to tell me where they are and what's going on in their lives, or want advice, different things. Right now, frankly, there are two or three or four a week that are filling in lunch times or other meeting times. I still do Track 1.5 Dialogue with China and Japan. The one in China, started by the Chinese in 2012. In 1979, when we lost the sites in Iran we were in great difficulty in verifying the SALT treaty. As you look geographically, where was there potentially even a better chance to track over the border in a different direction? The negotiations were done in my living room in Fort Meade. Negotiators on the Chinese side were MIT graduates who had stayed in China, hadn't gone to Taiwan. Highly classified, still classified, but Bob Gates got the facts declassified for his book.

Then three years ago, Madame Liu showed up, a different one. She was setting up and running a think tank for Liu He, who became the economic czar. She had a copy of the agreement with the Central Party School, wanted to parallel it with the 50 Forum. And from the professional level, the government is like, "Yeah, keep doing it." Doesn't cost them anything. I created a small not-for-profit in Arlington called Strategic Renaissance 21, and it operates through that. Have retired Naval intel captain, former Naval attaché in Beijing, who does the bulk of the work.

Two years ago in July—I had been worrying through the spring: Was the Trump administration going to simply acknowledge North Korea as a nuclear power, and if they did, what would be the impact on Japan? Would they stay under our umbrella, or would they go to be a nuclear power? If so, we'd have a very different Asia, very different world. An old friend from earlier years in intelligence had been called back by Prime Minister Abe to be the deputy cabinet secretary, so I went to see Mr. Sugita and took in the current U.S. ambassador, who's now in the Senate, and said, "What would it take, what would be the ask, for Japan, for the depth of relationship with the U.S., that you would be comfortable staying under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, not creating your own?" He grabbed it. They went to work on it, hard. Then they wanted to send a delegation to Los Angeles, February the 1st, 2020. I got nervous that I was way above my pay grade, called my old friend Bob Gates, who called Steve Hadley. Steve called—"Listen, you are way above your—you need political cover." So he called O'Brien, the national security advisor, and the deputy secretary of State.

I flew back to Washington—we were just back from a cruise around New Zealand and Australia—to tell them what I was doing. And that was the day they were evacuating Wuhan. So the secretary, the deputy secretary, the assistant secretary for Asia were all in the Situation Room. The senior deputy assistant secretary for Asia, career diplomat for Asia, took the visit. He said, "This is critical. It's what we should be doing, but we can't. Keep doing it, keep doing it." So I had the visit. I debriefed later. The Japanese came with documents they had put together across the whole range of activities, which cross State, Defense, Intelligence, Commerce. Conversations have continued. Suddenly, with Suga's stepping down and Kishida being elected as the leader, Sugita is out, replaced by a National Police guy. My question is, is this going to continue? Can I abandon at this stage of the time? But those have continued to occupy a fair amount of my time. I'm not looking around for, "What do I do to stay busy?"

ZIERLER: You mentioned the evacuation of Wuhan. This is a question I've been looking forward to asking you. It has geopolitical, intelligence, and scientific ramifications. Is it important for the United States to understand the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic?

INMAN: It is important for being equipped to effectively deal with future pandemics. What do you need to look for? If there's nothing else than that, you find what you're looking for. 9/11, we weren't looking for people going to flight school in the U.S. and planning to hijack aircraft and fly them into buildings. It was as much a failure of imagination. What did you imagine, the kind of things that could happen? Knowing exactly, if possible, how did this virus spread? How did it first move from animals to humans? And from that, how do you then position, including intelligence, to look for early recognition of an evolution of a new virus? If you get on it immediately, your chances of containing it are high. SARS, MERS, it worked. Ebola, a little less so, but eventually it worked.

ZIERLER: Coming from the intelligence world, what tools do U.S. intelligence agencies need to know if this was a lab leak or it came out of a wet market? How do you go about getting to the bottom of that?

INMAN: Only with collaboration from the Chinese.

ZIERLER: Do you think the Chinese themselves know how this originated?

INMAN: I do, and I personally think the odds are very high that it was animal to human in the wet market. Doesn't make news, because the political story is the leak from the lab that the U.S. had been funding. If you want to discredit that, it goes about investing in foreign laboratories and all. Why do I think that? A bright young guy who suddenly recognized similarity in six different cases, different hospitals, same symptoms, and surmised that it was a virus transmitted through—the one common feature; they had all been in the wet market. He was denounced and removed, and then he himself came down with it and died. Then he was suddenly resurrected from the research and work.

I still think he was right. I think the likelihood of it coming out of the woman scientist's lab is remote. Can't totally discount it, and there are a couple of reports that people thought she was casual about handling things in her lab. One of the hardest challenges in the intelligence world is getting around ideology. When you have an ideological focus looking for something to use to support, you miss other activities, because your vision is narrowed. What's going to support that view? So I'm skeptical of those who are absolutely sure it's a leak from the lab. Even if it was a leak from a lab, how do you detect spreading of a disease and how it's spreading, no matter what the origin is? Because that was the next opportunity. The first one was the late December, early January opportunity. The fact that they went ahead with that 40,000-person banquet in Wuhan the day before the New Year celebration, and then they left, scattered all over China, all over the world—there was the opportunity to contain, had they cancelled that dinner, because there were enough cases already at that point to raise alarm.

Our side, first we needed the dialogue that caused us to be alert that something was happening. How did you track all those people from Wuhan who flew into a great many places in the U.S.? The Inmans flew from Auckland to San Francisco on the 21st of January. There were three planes from China that came in within an hour of us. Because we used Global Entry, we never interacted with them, and we flew on to Austin that afternoon. There may well have been on those flights people who carried it to California. Don't get too focused just on that, Wuhan to California. Where else did they go? To Italy, in large numbers, and from Italy to the U.S., and the whole New York spread. Again, we're back to dedicating assets to track potential pandemic diseases, early. You want to prevent. If you can't prevent, can you contain? And if you can't contain, how do you limit the process? Does that make sense?

ZIERLER: It does. Where do we go from here, thinking about the next pandemic, which you've always been thinking about? That will be my last question for today.

INMAN: I see the gathering in Glasgow; I'm not sure what it's going to accomplish or what impact standards are going to have.

ZIERLER: You're talking about the climate change summit?

INMAN: Yeah. I'd like to see a summit at that level dealing with, how do we deal with pandemic epidemics? How do we play this one out for the populations that are not yet vaccinated to it? But how do we prepare world health organizations? What do you commit to do, in the way of alert, tracking, sharing, of info for warning? How do you do that? I don't see that happening right now. You've got the former secretary of State wandering around as the climate czar; where's the pandemic czar? I admire Fauci. I think he has been right much more than wrong in the process, credible in warning.

I taught a class in crisis management for many years. You think what could happen. You plan how you would deal with it. You do scenarios, see what happens, and how those played out. What you're not doing, you need to think about. The event occurs. The spokesperson is one of the most critical elements. Convey knowledge credibly, and no speculation. "This is what we know. I'll be back as soon as we know more." The president wanting to be the spokesman just blew that one out of the water. I go back—George W. Bush will go to his grave with Iraq as the albatross, given him by Cheney, but his own inclinations added to it. But if you look at what he did on AIDS in Africa, he got far. What he did after SARS and wanting stockpile in the U.S. to deal with it. Scale of testing. It slips under Obama. They don't continue to fund it as you get other budget pressures. It's totally ignored under Trump. Suddenly, you get this explosion.

There are so many things to challenge, but for me, the fact that we did not have credible means to test for a new virus ready to use stands out as probably the single largest failure. Scientific failure. Then the mistakes made after we knew it existed in testing. Had we been able to massively test accurately, early, it would have been far less life-threatening. You look at the death toll; we missed January until late February, early March. You look at the money thrown at totally unproven new ways to develop vaccines, and it's a great story. But how you implement it, again—in military operations and in all kinds of things, the logistics, the preparing for scale for dealing with challenges.

ZIERLER: Talking about ideology, we also need a public that believes in science and believes in expertise. That's a big problem now as well.

INMAN: Ideology has become paramount. But it's deeper than that. We have this explosion of entertainment. Reality TV has developed a huge fan base. That's what took a real estate developer and a casino owner to national prominence, was he was a reality TV star. He remained one throughout his four years in office! Very skillfully. But it's that audience that's sitting there watching reality TV shows and loving it, and believing whatever you hear from him. To me, that there are 25 million, 30 million people who actually believe the election was stolen is just astonishing. When you look at history and look at Goebbels and the effort in the 1930s—you tell the big lie over and over and over, and the whole population will come to it. If they don't believe it, they at least accept it. The ones telling it have told it so often they've come to believe it. The damage to democracy as we know it is pretty severe. That goes back to my earlier—I was cut short—I had done migration. I didn't get social media. The impact of social media on culture, on governments, on business, is vast, and we don't yet really fully understand it or how to deal with it.

ZIERLER: Is there anything that you see recognizable in today's Republican Party, or is it something totally different?

INMAN: I keep asking who's going to rebuild it. You can't rebuild it until you get rid of it. The Democrats are going to blow the opportunity to pick up seats in 2022 if they don't get their act together—the progressives successfully holding the bipartisan infrastructure package which would put people to work, moves the economy, and they end up losing the House, maybe the Senate. Kevin McCarthy is the speaker? Uch! So we're not going to make progress. In 2024, if Trump is still—he's going to be the candidate, a strong conservative…who's going to oppose him? Because right now the clones are trying to be like him in hopes that would get—DeSantis…I hired a bright young PhD out of Yale to come to UT Austin my first time as Interim Dean. His name was Ben Sasse. I barely got him there and I lost him back to—they kept calling him back wanting him to do things in Washington.

ZIERLER: He has been a voice of reason, and brave.

INMAN: I committed that I would keep his time clock running for tenure. My successor did not honor that, and so Ben said, "I have other options" and went back to Nebraska to take over as president of a small private college, then another one, and to the U.S. Senate. Ben has burned a lot of bridges in his forthright stance—but he's incredibly bright. He could provide the kind of lead…he had to get pretty far to the right to get elected in Nebraska. We still have a dialogue. Since he was reelected in 2020, he has got six years. Does he have enough cohorts to rebuild? One who isn't nearly as bright, not even close, is Michael McCaul, now ranking on Foreign Affairs. But he loves to see himself on television. He's doing Fox and others far too often for my taste. But he did stay and vote to confirm the electoral college.

ZIERLER: Which somehow is an act of bravery right now.

INMAN: We were talking—he was barricaded in his office when the raid [January 6 insurrection] went down, and I was worried about him. They were roaming all over the place. But he hung in there, and then went back and was among the Republicans in the House that did vote to confirm the Electoral College. That we even got to the need for that remains a topic of great worry.

ZIERLER: We'll pick that up and many others in our subsequent conversations.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Friday, November 5th, 2021. Once again, it is my great honor and pleasure to be back with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, it's great to be with you sir. Thanks again for joining me.

INMAN: I'm delighted to start the second session.

ZIERLER: In our first session, we covered the big questions as it related to your remarkable connections and service to Caltech over the decades. Now I'd like to go back for your personal narrative and get a sense, a little bit, about where you came from, so that our readers and researchers can understand what you went on to achieve. Just as a first question, tell me a little bit about your parents, back in Texas.

INMAN: They were products of rural Texas, married when father was 19, mother was 18. They moved to Dallas shortly after they were married. Older sister was born there three years later. They were married in 1925; she was born in 1928. The Depression set in, and they moved back to the farmhouse in East Texas that belonged to my maternal grandfather. That's where I was born in 1931.

ZIERLER: How many generations back does your family go in Texas?

INMAN: They moved to Texas during the Civil War. The family on the Inman side goes back to—the original settler came from England to New York state in the 1630-1640 timeframe. The family split at the time of the French and Indian War, with the breakoff group moving to North Carolina. At the time of the Revolution, the New York group split again, with the loyalists going to Canada, where they continued to live, and I think prosper reasonably. The War of 1812, the North Carolina group split into three groups, one to South Carolina, one to Georgia, one to Tennessee. Then the Civil War timeframe. My line comes out of farmers, essentially. The group that went to South Carolina and Georgia were largely professionals. Doctors and other things came from those strains.

On my mother's side, I can trace back to the 1800s. Scottish, a little bit of Irish, but mostly English. To Alabama and then to Texas again, around the time of the Civil War. They moved from the farming areas north of Dallas, west of Dallas, to East Texas. That's where my father's—both grandparents grew up and prospered in that region, paternal grandfather as a farmer, maternal grandfather as a politician, became a county judge, liked it, for a very long time ran a political machine in East Texas of about eight counties. I was exposed to that in my early growing-up years.

ZIERLER: What level of education did your parents attain?

INMAN: My mother went to one year of college. My father was a high school graduate.

ZIERLER: What were their professions? What did your father do?

INMAN: He did a lot of different kinds of jobs. He was a salesman, essentially, if I had to classify him in a single area. He operated in the post-World War II era. He bought a number of different small businesses and sold them all, again over time, some profitably, some not, and then moved to California and was essentially a salesman again for the remaining years. He died of a heart attack while on a sales trip in Houston in 1967. He was 62 years old when he died. He was born in 1905.

ZIERLER: Did your mom work outside the home at all?

INMAN: During World War II, she did. Previous years, she did the gardens, helped with the farming. They both worked in defense industries in the Panhandle during World War II. Moved back to East Texas in 1945. I finished my high school in a small town called Mineola my senior year. The later move to California partly was for my mother's health. She was having some rheumatoid arthritis signs, and the doctors thought if she got in the drier climate, that she would prosper. And she did. She lived to 104.

ZIERLER: The bulk of our discussion today is going to begin when you're 15 and you're finishing up high school at the end of World War II. But in light of what you went on to achieve and your military service, I wonder either as a nine-year-old or an 11-year-old boy, either when Hitler invaded Poland or when Pearl Harbor happened, what kind of impression that made on you as a young American.

INMAN: In the late 1930s, there were no newspapers out where we lived. We listened to the radio, occasionally went into town for matinees on Saturday afternoon when News of the World newsreels would also run. The family was deeply involved in the Baptist church, and so that meant Sunday school and church and evening service and prayer meetings sometimes during the week. We'd come home from church, and one of my favorite things on Sunday was to turn on the radio, because Fiorello LaGuardia was reading the comic strips. I had just gotten settled in listening to that when interrupted with the news that Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

ZIERLER: What impression did that leave on you?

INMAN: I had been following the events going on in Europe. I knew the rise of Nazis to power in Germany, knew the reality of war having started in Europe. But we were not engaged. We were not involved. Then suddenly, after Pearl Harbor, mobilization and rationing, parents both working in defense industries in the Panhandle. I remember those years with great clarity. We had been alerted that the invasion of Europe was coming and that we would be alerted with church bells ringing. On the 6th of June, the church bells started ringing, and that was the news to go turn on the radio and hear that Normandy was underway. The end of the War, the news of the atomic bomb being dropped at Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, all those came by radio. I guess we got our first television set in 1946 or 1947. That began to change how we were informed about the outside world. But it really wasn't until I was in my third year of college, had shifted from Tyler Junior College to the University of Texas at Austin, that a daily newspaper came to be a factor. It has remained intensely one all the rest of the years.

ZIERLER: What were your parents' politics? Would they have been like, New Deal Democrats?

INMAN: They were Democrats, but they were from the conservative side of the Democratic Party. One of my grandfathers' great friends was Coke Stevenson. He has been portrayed various ways. I remember him as a whiskey-swilling, cigar-smoking crony of my grandfather's. But they were conservative Democrats. When they moved to California, I think they gravitated toward the moderate side of the Republican Party, but not active participants. The active participation political side was my grandfather's, but not either of my parents. I don't remember either of them taking an active role in politics.

ZIERLER: For you to graduate high school at age 15, were you really academically advanced? What was the thinking there?

INMAN: I was privileged to have a very retentive mind. As a teenager on through my twenties, I could scan and retain full texts. That began to slip; in my thirties, I had to read rather than scan. In my forties, I did not always remember what I had seen or read. As I get into my sixties, seventies, eighties, I have to read pretty carefully to retain. I don't retain the full text, but the essence, but it takes more time, whereas in the teenage years, it did not take a lot of time to absorb it. In my senior year of high school, there was a civics teacher named Amy Willis. She was probably the single most influential teacher in my public school days. She was truly a rabid New Dealer, and she baited me to get arguments going, and I would argue forcefully back. But my broadened interest, beyond just what I had watched as retail politics from my grandfather, really came out of those, and it became something on through my college years.

ZIERLER: As a 15-year-old having graduated high school, what were your prospects? What did you want to do?

INMAN: Certainly wanted to go to college. I guess I'll go back and fill in one other element. I had been promoted, skipped grades two times, and then Texas had added its 12th year of education which gave me my third skip. When you are three years younger than your peers in high school, you are a freak. When you're three years younger than the girls, they're not interested in dating you. They want to date somebody that's three years older, not somebody that's three years younger. I had no athletic ability at all. I joined the band, played a clarinet poorly, but enough to stand by. I can remember when I was going into junior year of high school, as yet another opportunity or way to meet girls I had joined the choir, and the second day the choir teacher asked me to mouth the words, not sing, which was a recognition of the reality of lack of any musical talent along the way. I discovered fairly early that I could do the homework for the football players and they would become my protectors from the bullies, of which there were a lot.

A great breaking point here was 1946, because I turned 15 in April, starting college. My family did not want me to go any distance, so I was beginning at Tyler Junior College, commuting back and forth the 26 miles or whatever it was. But the veterans came back from World War II, and a number of them from Mineola enrolled in Tyler Junior College, the same year. The second day, one of them informed me—after exploring how had I gotten there at that age and the rest of it, and my doing homework tour to get protectors, they declared I didn't have to worry about that anymore; I was going to be their mascot, and I have wonderful memories of relationships. A number of them moved on to the University of Texas at Austin, B.A. Parrish, Jim Boyington, people who remained friends for a great many years, even when I moved away from Texas. But the friendships were really formed commuting back and forth to Tyler Junior College. Then Austin was the biggest city I had ever lived in. There were 29,000 students at UT at that point, swollen because of the great influx of veterans. They studied hard and they played hard. So it was a fascinating growing-up environment.

ZIERLER: Did you ever get any of the veterans to talk about their service during World War II?

INMAN: On rare occasions. Most of them didn't really want to talk. B.A. Parrish had ended up in the Pacific and in fact was in the group that was sent into China at the end of the war, but then he was released five or six months later. He would talk a bit about his Navy experiences, enlisted. But most of them were reluctant. They were looking for the new world, not the old world.

ZIERLER: What was your major at UT?

INMAN: History, government. History was the major, minor was in government, economics, all driven by my maternal grandfather, who had decided when I was about five that I was going to be a lawyer, because none of his five sons would go into the law. Running a political machine and being county judge for close to 30 years, he thought the legal profession was what—he clearly—he had aimed me toward politics, which none of his five sons had been interested in doing at all. Mother was the only daughter in the family. He passed away while I was at UT Austin, and when I finished, there was a great family debate. I had decided I didn't want to go to law school, but I did want to pursue graduate studies. I loved history, and to pursue that field. The family council said that the only thing you can possibly do with history is to teach, and you clearly have no aptitude to be a teacher.

But to dispute that, an old family friend of my grandfather's was superintendent of schools at Longview, so I was hired, sight unseen, no education courses. I taught eighth grade, four classes of English and one of history. The principal was not happy to have had this 19-year-old visiting, but he got his revenge. They let students register for classes like they did at college level. In student assembly, introducing the faculty, he had the librarian keep me in a conversation in a hall, and then, "Oh, Mr. Inman. Where's Mr. Inman? Check and see if he's in the hall." Because I was. I walk in, and they see I look younger than 19, and there was an uproar, and within two hours, all five of my classes were fully subscribed—28 girls and seven boys, 26 girls and—the only class where I had 18 boys and 17 girls was the history class, which was the first class in the morning.

One of my students, in the English class, the first week, he wanted me to come home to have coffee and meet his mother. So, I did. I was boarding nearby. That was the beginning of a wonderful lifelong friendship. His name was Joel Hurley. His mother was Mary Hurley. His father was Sturgis Hurley. His parents were both University of Texas graduates. His father was in the insurance business. His mother had been a teacher earlier. They had lost three children to stillbirth or one set of twins and another one, then had adopted, and 11 months after the adoption, Joel was born. Mary became a second mother, but much more than that, a friend and a confider. I didn't know any better, so I made the English students write term papers as eighth graders. That created quite a stir. Nobody else was requiring that. Mary Hurley helped me grade them, along the way. She was from a ranching family outside of Decatur. When Sturge died a few years after I left, she moved back to that area, but remained a family friend, would come to visit us. The boys, my sons, considered her really like another grandmother. So, people who influenced the early years and also provided a lot of affection.

ZIERLER: As a college student in the late 1940s, in light of your interest and leadership in global affairs and geopolitics, were you paying attention to world events? Were you alive to what was happening with the Cold War in Europe and the Chinese Civil War, for example?

INMAN: Intensely. While in my history classes, I focused on the Civil War and all its impacts, and then in my senior year, there was a new professor, Joe Frantz, who taught the history of business. I was fascinated by that class and it clearly influenced later turns in my life. Professor Frantz, in the years where I needed letters of recommendation for other things, he was always willing to write a positive letter. But again, politics, and as much as anything else, assert my independence from the family and family machine, I became a Young Republican. There were 12 of us on the campus. It's in the Cactus, the yearbook, 1949-1950. That has been a subject of great humor for a good many people over the years to go back and resurrect, back when there was no Republican Party. In fact, the twelve of us who were Young Republicans on that large campus got involved, eight never ran for office, but high school, college years, helped organize and get people elected to office. Never put myself up to be a candidate. I guess it was recognizing where my skills were and not looking to let ego get out ahead of my skills.

My first vote, when I was old enough to vote, was 1952. I voted for President Eisenhower. I was registered in California, where my family was living. In 1964, Goldwater's campaign scared me, and I voted for President Johnson. He was the first Democrat that I had voted for. But I didn't register as a Democrat. I re-registered in California as an independent, and I have remained a political independent all the years that have followed. As we get much further on in these stories, my 1964 reaction to Senator Goldwater—he became one of my great sponsors in my days running intelligence agencies, and a wonderful friend, and a mentor of sorts. I never told him that I didn't support him and that I re-registered in 1964, a little act of cowardice on my part.

ZIERLER: I'll ask a more specific question as it relates to global affairs. As a college student, were you specifically interested in intelligence, of the creation of the CIA from the OSS, things like that?

INMAN: Not at all. I was interested in world affairs. Amy Willis had stirred some of that. I was trying to track what was going on in the world. I was aware of the Marshall Plan, conscious of the creation of NATO. I would become much more deeply involved in all of those later. But the ties to the intelligence community did not come until I was several years along in the Navy.

ZIERLER: When you graduated, what role did the Korean War play in your aspirations, what you wanted to do next?

INMAN: Completing our early venture here, I successfully completed my year teaching in Longview. The family agreed it was fine for me to go back to graduate school and it was okay if I wanted to major in history. UT accepted me. I came back. I was so eager to get started that I came in the summer of 1951. Remember, I graduated from UT on the 3rd of June 1950, and the North Koreans went across the DMZ on the 24th, 27th of June. But I was so young at 19 that the fact that I might end up having to take part in it didn't cross my mind. Well, I got a call from the head of the draft board in Mineola asking me in July of 1951 what I was doing. I said, "Oh, I'm in graduate school." He said, "Wrong answer." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "There are no deferments for graduate school." I said, "What does that mean?" He said, "That means you're going to be drafted. If you're going to try to do anything else, you better scramble, because your number is going to come up in the fall."

So I immediately—I had been, as a 13-year-old, to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for a month, sleeping in tents, long hikes, all the rest, and I knew that sure wasn't what I wanted to do. I knew both the Air Force and the Navy, at least you'd have a bed and warm food and the rest. I talked to both the Air Force and the Navy. The Navy came through first. Signed the papers to go to their reopened officer candidate school, and I signed up. They were starting every two months. I signed up for class four, convening on 18 November 1951. This is now 29 October when I actually signed the paperwork to go. On the 4th of November, I got my draft notice, so I'm a draft dodger by a few days. Went to Newport, Rhode Island, on the 18th of November, graduated on the 26th of March while I was still 20, just by a few weeks.

ZIERLER: Tell me about Newport. What was that like?

INMAN: The coldest I had ever been in my life! The cold winds blowing across Narragansett Bay! And they'd take us out to march us to one event or another, and when they couldn't decide what, they'd leave is standing. In late January, early February, a particularly cold morning, all of a sudden, the guy next to me knocked me out of formation and started putting snow on my ears. He was a Navy medic who had come to OCS. He recognized signs of frostbite on my—these big ears. That created enough of a stir in the school that we never got left out for a long time again. Before they took us out, they knew where we were going to go, and we went quickly. It was integrated. Having grown up in totally segregated small towns, both Tyler Junior College, University of Texas, totally segregated in those days, and suddenly, to OCS, which was integrated. Not many, but there were a few people of color. I had had a Hispanic roommate at UT Austin, but those were not considered minorities. It was clearly the Blacks who were the minority.

ZIERLER: How long were you at Newport for, in all?

INMAN: Sixteen weeks. I got orders about ten weeks along. I was going to go to an aircraft carrier, the USS Valley Forge, which was out in the Sea of Japan doing strikes. I was going to go to San Diego to await the ship's return from deployment. And the standard—everybody had "proceed and delay," so everybody else had 20, 25 days to get to their duty station. The day a copy of my orders arrived on Valley Forge, they were extended for two months, and the idea that this ensign might be lolling around Coronado, California, where their families all were, for four months, they sent a message they had urgent need for communication watch officers, and they asked that my orders be to proceed without delay. That happened, so everybody else was going off on leave to do whatever; I get on the crash boat to go from Newport across the Bay to Quonset Point, where I was told I've got to hop on a Navy aircraft that was going to be going across the country. Stopped in Olathe, Kansas, to fuel, went on to California, Alameda, took a bus up to Travis Air Force Base—this is the day of prop planes—and flew Travis to Wake Island, Wake Island to Japan. Landed nighttime, and bussed down to Yokosuka, for them to tell me that I was going to, the next day, go back up to Yokota and I was going to fly out to—I'd go over to Atsugi and fly out to board the carrier.

At this point now, I was five days out of OCS and my bright one stripe on my navy-blue uniform. Get to Atsugi, board the carrier via board delivery aircraft. We get out, and terrible weather had settled in the Sea of Japan, so they diverted us to Pusan, Korea. The Army—this is the perimeter—they took some delight in hazing this fresh-faced—at this point, I had just turned 21—my shiny blue uniform with a gold stripe. There overnight, then we flew back to Japan. Stayed in the Air Force officers' barracks for about 36 hours, while they taught me things like liar's dice to take my money from me, et al. And then did fly out, and flew on board the Valley Forge about a week after. By that point, it was now I think nine days after graduation from OCS.

ZIERLER: What was the state of the war at this point?

INMAN: Raging, but it was north of the 38th. In China, it already occurred, and it was north of the 38th parallel. What I was doing was encrypting where the bomb line was, for the targeteers, to make sure—I had been there three weeks when the ship got a mandatory quota to send an officer to the Naval Justice School in Newport, Rhode Island. The ship had made a brief stop in Japan. I went off, made the trek and did, by prop, to fly across the Pacific, across the U.S. to now sunny spring in Newport, Rhode Island. Seven weeks of Naval Justice School, good school, good time, out on the beach, whatever, then flew all the way back across the Pacific and back on board. The carrier was in port in Sasebo, and I went and joined them there for their last three-week segment out on the line, conducting strikes.

ZIERLER: What was Naval Justice School like?

INMAN: It was fun. That was the closest I came to the law and law school. But my background—it was easy. I enjoyed it. Enjoyed the school, learning new things, and enjoyed the weather. Newport was a friendly place to be.

ZIERLER: What was the curriculum like? What kinds of classes did you take?

INMAN: I honestly don't remember in any significant—clearly that part didn't make that much of an impression. Court martials. Focused on Uniform Code of Military Justice. Investigations. How did you go about doing investigations? Serving as recorders, the rest of it. There was some briefing exposure. I'm not sure how many classes on things like prisoners of war, and those elements. I learned enough when I got back to the carrier to be assigned promptly as a defense counsel for a court martial, and I felt comfortable in ably representing the young Hispanic who had gone UA for a week. He had fallen in love in Japan.

But the ship finishes that last deployment, last month, to Yokosuka, then heads back to the U.S., and here comes a message again. There had been behind the lines bombings in Korea, and there were disputes of whether it was Air Force, Navy, Marine aircraft that had bombed behind the lines, so they decided to put together a joint investigation headed by an Air Force brigadier general stationed at Tachikawa Air Force Base. They asked for the head of the air wing on USS Valley Forge to serve. Admiral Apollo Soucek, who was the flag officer embarked, said, "We've been out here eight and a half months. Need to go home. But if you need an assistant recorder, we have a new graduate, Naval Justice School." So the next day, I take my bags and go ashore and go up to Tachikawa. Four and a half months. There were several other behind the lines bombing episodes that occurred as time went on. We'd go over on Tuesday morning to someplace in Korea. Thursday afternoon, we'd go back to Japan, Tachikawa. I was off from Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday to go explore Japan, so I did. Fascinating country. Explored in all kinds of ways, things, and the rest of it.

ZIERLER: How were you regarded as an American in Japan at that time?

INMAN: Friendly. On my way to the Naval Justice School, I had gone through Tokyo. That was the day, first of May, when the independence went into effect. There were demonstrations. People were running down in groups in the street. I was standing in uniform gawking from the sidelines. Nobody paid any attention to me at all. Never, ever felt threatened. Things changed in later wars and conflicts, but not then.

ZIERLER: At this point, you're not on any clearly path to Naval intelligence yet.

INMAN: Not anywhere near it yet. But I'm getting ready to—the carrier finally has asked, "Where is Ensign Inman?" They went back—"We're just completing the work, and he'll be transiting to join you in a couple weeks." Then the brigadier general asked, "Anyplace you'd like to visit before you leave, the award for serving?" I said, "I'd love to go to Hong Kong." So they gave me a hop. Stayed in the Peninsula Hotel that was then along the harbor. That was before they filled in the land and expanded it. It was a wonderful time, memory.

Then as I am getting ready to leave Japan USS Oriskany had had a fire, and they had ordered Valley Forge out a month early to head out for their fourth cruise. They had been the first carrier on the scene in early July of 1950. So I was stopped in Hawaii, waited four or five days until they arrived, boarded, and went right back to Japan, working in communications, but also became the assistant legal officer. The legal officer was a reservist who had been called back to active duty. His name was Bob Morgan. When he got out, he went on to be elected as attorney general and then senator from North Carolina. That friendship picked up once I'm in Washington.

Turned out youngsters from inner city Detroit and Los Angeles were pretty avid users of marijuana, and they had carried a stash of it on board with them, and shared it with their friends, for money sometimes. We get to the Far East, and they've used it all up, so they go ashore looking for it, in Hong Kong. An entrepreneur said, "Well, now, we don't have any marijuana. We've got something even better" and introduced them to this white material that was heroin. They tried it, and loved the high they got, performance, so they took a lot of it back onto the ship, and they began selling it and using it. There was a first-class petty officer, air intelligence, who picked up on this, what their source was, and went and bought a substantial quantity but at very reasonable prices, that were stashed in the air intelligence office underneath the map boards. His intent was take it back to the U.S. and sell it.

So it was a crash course in the legal profession, court marshals, all the rest, but more than that, cultural, understanding who was attracted, who had used it. The first-class petty officer never used it. He was purely in it for the commercial prospect, advantage, that the pricing would bring on the West Coast. But this would come up time and again in my life as I moved into other things, the scourge of narcotics in the society.

ZIERLER: I'm still waiting, though—you're not yet anywhere close to Naval intelligence.

INMAN: No. Let's pick up speed a little. I lived in a bunk room on the Valley Force with 11 other junior officers. A majority of them were planning on getting out and almost across the board they were going to graduate business school. Remembering friends and their class, "Gee, that does sound pretty interesting." Got into a dialogue with them. They were applying various places, mostly on the East Coast. But a school on the West Coast had a great reputation, named Stanford. I applied and they accepted me. I had a pretty good academic record.

The carrier had come back from that fourth deployment. Armistice had been signed. We had transited the Panama Canal. It was the largest ship they could get through the Canal, to Norfolk. It was going to be a midshipman cruise, et al. I was picking up a new car that I had ordered in Michigan, but I scooted up to Washington with my nice admission letter from Stanford, to talk my way out early. I met the lieutenant detailer. I was an Lt. by this point. I explained I had admission to Stanford Business School, and I'd like to get out early in order to be there by September. They laughed at me. "No early outs. You owe us 14 more months. Probably going to do it on the Valley Forge." Somewhat dismayed, I thanked them. They had time, so they invited me to stay and have lunch with them in the cafeteria. It was mostly ribald questions about the life of a young bachelor in the Far East.

I leave, I fly on to Detroit, pick up my car, drive back to Norfolk, get on board the carrier, midnight on Sunday night. The Marine said, "Oh, the exec is waiting for you, and he is unhappy." I went down, slept a little bit. 6:00, — "Exec wants to see you, now." Uniform on, scoot up, and he starts—"If I had known you were going to go play political influence, I would never have let you off the ship." I didn't know what the hell he was talking about! The detailers on that Friday afternoon had gotten the message that a reserve lieutenant called back to active duty for Korea, serving on the joint staff in Paris, administrative assistant to an Army major general, was living with a young French woman who was a very active member of the French Communist Party. And this is the Army-McCarthy era. They released him to inactive duty that afternoon and ran an IBM punch card file for anybody on a large ship or shore station with administrative experiences who could move quickly. They started to—"Inman. He's the guy who was in—footloose and fancy free." They had issued orders for me to proceed without delay to Paris, Joint Staff. Executive Officer, later admiral, Commander Bakutis, assured me he had already gone back to tell personnel, "Unacceptable orders." They came back the same day and said, "Comply with the orders."

So by the following Friday, having shipped my brand-new car from Bayonne in France, I was in Paris, Joint Staff. Good time. They sent me up to Frankfurt for three months helping clean up some things left behind from the move to France. But once a month, the unified commander would have the Army-Navy-Air Force component commanders come for a conference. I was picked up as the escort for the Navy Four-Star for 13 months. The 14th, last month, Stanford has again accepted me. Packers are packing my goods to ship me home, Admiral Cassady asked me to come to London and be his junior aide, social aide, travel aide. When you've grown up in small towns in Texas, and Austin is the biggest—and Dallas—you knew, but you never lived there—and you've now been from Tokyo to Hong Kong and you've lived in Paris for a year—go to London? So I went to London instead of going to business school.

ZIERLER: Did you defer business school, or you just decided to take a different path?

INMAN: 1957. So 1955-1957 on the Roanoke, 1953 to 1955 in Europe, 1952 or 1953 on Valley Forge. I was not impressed with the intelligence course. I thought it was more training than what I expected from a post-graduate level study. And there was one total racist, Professor DeSalles, who taught geography. It was an intense class, and it lasted the entire nine months. Every country, every island, every colony, cultures, histories, ethnic facilities, everything. It was of enormous value to the rest of my career. Early in September, one of the retired rear admirals from the London time, he and his family wanted me to meet the daughter of their closest civilian friends. My problem was she was five years younger than I was. Now let's go all the way back to high school, college. When I could get a date, they were always older than I was, and I had continued that pattern of dating older women. Somebody five years younger? She was even less interested in somebody in the Navy, somebody from Texas. We were married ten and a half months later, and we celebrated our 63rd anniversary last June.

ZIERLER: Wow.

INMAN: That was one good thing that came out of the intelligence school time. I had orders to go to Turkish language school and then to go to Istanbul as the assistant Naval Attaché, who was sitting in the house the Navy had on the banks of the Bosporus, tracking what went back and forth between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Rear Admiral Larry Frost was the director of Naval Intelligence. This was the almost third year of his four-year stint, his only time ever to visit the school. I got put on as the briefer and that afternoon, my orders were changed. Instead of going to Turkish language school, I was going to go to the Pentagon, be a watch stander in Flag Plot, where you tracked what was going on all over the world, and then sort it out for the briefers, "These are the critical things that the CNO ought to hear" the next morning.

Admiral Arleigh Burke was the CNO, a great World War II hero, picked out very early for CNO, from two stars all the way to four. He began his morning—all the admirals from the Navy department, a few captains—ten minutes of intelligence on the outside world, ten minutes of Naval operations, and then ten minutes on media relations, Congressional relations, weather. No scripts. Stand, brief, answer questions, sit down, hold tight until the time has come. Captains and commanders, colonels and lieutenant colonels did the briefs. I went in for my first watch just back from my honeymoon, early July of 1958. That was the night of the coup in Iraq. Instead of going on the watch bill and staying on the watch bill, I went on the task force to support the crisis, in that we have Marines landing in Lebanon, lots of stories associated with that. I go the end of July, we went into a Taiwan Straits crisis, so I went to that task force.

The last Friday in August 1958, the captain intel briefer was on travel. One of two commanders was on leave. The other came late, read summaries, answered a question off the top of his head with inaccurate info. Admiral Burke ordered the Seventh Fleet moved, but as of 1 July he no longer had operational control. When he went down to get the order ratified with JCS, he found he had acted on inaccurate info. Twenty-four hours, get Commander Massey out of town. The question is what to do on Saturday morning. Admiral Burke had Monday through Friday very detailed schedules from throughout the entire day and evening, but Saturday was open. Nothing was scheduled. The word came back, "Don't bother to call back one of the briefers. Just put a substitute on." Admiral Frost put Lieutenant Inman on as the briefer.

Big map boards that covered the walls, long pointers, longer than I am tall, and you'd point out places on the map board as you briefed them. I'm sure that pointer was shaking like the proverbial willow tree in the wind. Admiral Burke recognized I was nervous. He asked me a question before he even sat down. I answered it, but I also calmed down, but then I got very nervous all over again, because as I would brief on a country, he'd ask me about every country around it. We ended up touring the world for 25 minutes. He turned with a great flourish to Admiral Frost and said, "Leave the lieutenant on the briefing team as Commander Massey's successor." And my whole life literally changed from that moment.

ZIERLER: What do you think you did in that moment that left that impact?

INMAN: Knowledge. I had absorbed what Professor DeSalles had hounded on, and I had continued to track, so I knew enough about what was going on. Because just in my normal reading, out of curiosity, I tracked intellectually what I saw going on around the world. It was not a hard thing to do, but from the point of view of Admiral Burke and everybody else who was around, it was a pretty astonishing display of knowledge, and the ability to assimilate, digest lots of data, but to convey it concisely. It became a habit pretty soon, that I would brief an item in the morning, I'd get a call an hour or two later from his Naval aide—"Admiral Burke wants to see you." I'd go down—"Get your map board and go brief General Goodpaster. Go brief Assistant Secretary Jeff Parsons." The next day, Senator Bartlett—something I had covered that morning. The very first trip he said, "Now, Bobby, don't tell them everything you know. Leave them wanting to ask questions." That guidance played a big role, again, throughout the rest of my life.

ZIERLER: That was political advice he was giving you.

INMAN: Exactly, yes. It was a great two years. Get up at 3:00 in the morning, go to work at 4:00, one week, get home 5:00 thereabouts. The next week, get up at 4:00 or 4:30, go in at 5:30, as the backup briefer, get home about 7:00. That's what my bride was introduced to as a life and a work schedule. Having lived through that, she never really complained about my work habits most of the time of the years that followed.

ZIERLER: In this role, what level of coordination was there in the overall intelligence community? How much did you talk with your counterparts in other agencies?

INMAN: At this stage, not a lot. I was dealing with product that came from the National Security Agency, from CIA. The Naval attachés still belonged to the Department, so anything that had been reported. But a good half of what I used in those days—peers agree with me—was political reporting, economic reporting, by foreign service officers. A lot was what they had observed as opposed to what sources had provided.

ZIERLER: At this point, was SCI [Sensitive Compartmented Intelligence] yet part of the intelligence classification process?

INMAN: Top secret, compartmented, the SCI, was very much part of the process. For instance, as a briefer, I was cleared for the product from the U-2 flights, from things collected from our underwater reconnaissance missions, from intercepts from around the world, including sometimes extremely tightly compartmented, where a major cipher system had been broken. I was as a lieutenant exposed to the highest levels of raw intelligence. Putting it together, deciding—my customer was Admiral Burke, and whoever he sent me to brief on something that I had already briefed. He was particularly seized with Cuba, Fidel Castro coming to power, so I'd often save a juicy item on Cuba for the last thing.

He was wonderful to brief. He hissed the villains. He cheered the heroes. You could see if he was confused. I learned early not to try to do any humor. I had been maybe four or five months, and the Soviets had announced a major reduction in their expenditures for defense. We didn't know whether it was true or not, but it was widely covered. I felt I needed to mention it, so I briefed what was the German reaction, the French reaction, the British reaction, and then tossed in, "In fact, the only thing I haven't heard it compared to was Charlie Wilson's ‘more bang for a buck.'" From the second row back, nice laughter, and Admiral Burke turned red. Suddenly, as my life passed in front of me, Charlie Wilson was the one who reached down 155 names to make him a CNO. I sat down and figured I was on my way gone. Briefing is over, he gets up, starts for the door, and turns to me and said, "More bang for a buck," and chuckled, and I knew I was off the buck. But never, ever tried to be funny in the briefing again.

ZIERLER: Who did Admiral Burke report to?

INMAN: Secretary of the Navy, and collectively to the Joint Chiefs, the secretary of Defense. Because he was there so long—he actually did six years, the longest tenure of a CNO—there were times when he was the acting chairman, Joint Chiefs, as well. The episodes you remember—when De Gaulle pulled out of NATO, the State Department proposed in response that we recall the Belleau Wood, a small carrier that we had loaned to the French. Admiral Burke sent a letter to the secretary of State saying he opposed punishing the French Navy for a political decision by its president. Then he added a handwritten footnote—"And remembering the characteristics of the French race, I don't think we really want to get in a battle of tit for tat." He and Bobbie had no children, and a lot of us younger ones sort of came under their wing.

Fast forward, I'm three-star, have been selected for the four. I have a meeting with chief of Naval operations and chief of Naval personnel. They were talking about people and outside influence. I made some offhand—"Oh, I wish I had that…" The chief of Naval Personnel looked at me and said, "What? You were one of the biggest problems we had." Because Admiral Burke would call every two or three years to ask, "Where's Inman now? Where's he going next? Who's he going to work for? No, that's not tough enough. I want to see him go to somebody who's clearly headed to four-star." He had continued to be interested in my career all the way through.

ZIERLER: As an organizing principle of the most important pieces of intelligence, was containing the Soviet threat the overarching concern, would you say, at this point?

INMAN: The overarching concern was preventing hostilities, and a constant focus were any sign—no surprise attacks, no Pearl Harbors. If you saw something moving in a direction that might lead to conflict, that was at the top of the list. Containment not very far behind it. The concern always was the Soviets that they were going to decide to go roaring through the Fulda Gap and go conquer Western Europe, which they could have done if we had not brought firepower to bear to stop them. Trying to understand what was going on inside the Soviet Union, particularly in the upper leadership elements, was an ongoing challenge. We never had a human source in the Politburo. We had them with lower levels, and some of enormous value. It has been revealed, so there's no problem with my saying it—we discovered that they would talk on their phones—this is before walkie talkies—on the way to meetings, on the way back from meetings, and we were able to intercept those conversations from inside the embassy. That got revealed by Jack Anderson. They encrypted phones, but with a low-level encryption system that we were able to break. We didn't have it as fast, but still within 24 hours. That was the only insight we ever had of what they had actually been talking about, what their reaction was to what had occurred in the politburo meeting. Then Jack Anderson repeats that, and they went to high-level, so suddenly we were never able to read again.

Fast forward, I have been the director of National Security Agency two months. Got a call from the watch officer, 12:00, 1:00 in the morning, that the deputy secretary of State, Warren Christopher, wanted me to give him a call on the secure phone. I go down, crank it up in my basement, call him. He said, "Bobby, the embassy in Moscow is on fire, and the local police have said they cannot put out the fire unless they can get on the tenth floor. What should I tell them?" "Let the building burn." He said, "If that's your judgment, that's the answer that we'll tell them." They didn't get on the tenth floor, and they were able to put out the fire, which they had clearly started in the hopes of being able to do it.

Let me go way back to [being the] Burke briefer. On a Friday afternoon, maybe 18 months in the job, Admiral Burke called me. He said, "What are you doing this weekend?" I said, "Working Saturday, and then around the house on Sunday." "Well, would it be possible for you to come into the Pentagon for a couple or three hours on Sunday afternoon?" "Certainly. Easy to do." His guest was Lord Louis Mountbatten, the First Sea Lord. I would brief on a country, and the two of them would talk about it. We did that for three hours. It was one of the most fascinating times in my younger years—the insight, particularly that Mountbatten had, from his viewpoint. But the background, for understanding deeper, India, other places, South Africa, other places that we'd talk about, that were not high on the Navy's list at that point, but certainly were on the national side.

Now back to a question you asked earlier—it's when I come back to the director of Naval Intelligence in September of 1974 that I begin to interact with the other intelligence agencies, coordinating, briefing, the rest of it. Up to that point, I'm a consumer of what you all are providing, tailoring it to what my customers need. Suddenly I'm in a different mode, where you're collaborating, coordinating, the rest of it. That really begins in 1974. So from introduction to post-graduate, graduate school in 1957 to 1974, I'm a lone wolf. Well, not a lone wolf; I interacted with the others. But I went from the briefing job to the new destroyer, ops officer. I got picked up two months later for early promotion to lieutenant commander. It was clearly for the briefing job that got it. There was another young lieutenant who was on the JCS support staff, Hedelberg, also got picked up on the same list. I was in Washington. We were just getting ready to deploy, and a hero's welcome at the desk that—it had taken some real pressure to get me the slot as ops officer on the destroyer, because I had been a carrier and a cruiser. Then all of a sudden, you're the only destroyer guy who's gotten promoted early. No, let's see; there are three of them. Well, what do you want to do next? To fleet up, to be an exec. Catch up with my peers. Sounds great, doesn't it.

I'm in the Mediterranean, four months or so into the seven-month deployment. One day in the mail call, I got a letter telling me that they had so many deserving people who wanted to be exec. of destroyers, and fully qualified, so I was going to go back to do a second payback tour for intelligence for my postgraduate time. That same day, I saw orders for the other lieutenant in JCS, going to exec of the R.T.S. Kelly. What was our difference? He was a Naval Academy graduate; I was not. The next morning while I'm still steaming, I get a letter from Sam Frankel, who was the senior Naval intelligence specialist, asking me to apply to be a restricted line intelligence specialist. Selection board was coming up. Really wanted to see me part of the community. My letter went off the next day, and I did get picked up, the only one they selected that year. I came back from deployment, spent a little bit more time, and then went to NSA to an office the Navy had, and then began another long run.

I'm reminded of one more—I'm telling you all these tales that are self-aggrandizing—the destroyer tour was not a happy tour. I learned everything I needed to know within about a week, and it was just repeating—there was no intellectual challenge in what I was doing. I had come from where I had a brief in the morning, what's going on, what do I need to interrupt him in the middle of the day to know. A lot of flexibility. Admiral Frost gave you great authority to go—anytime we saw something we thought, don't bother to run it up through—take it to his office. Admiral Frost has gone off to be the director at NSA, and his deputy, a submariner, was acting. My standard pattern had been Admiral Burke would call and send me to go see somebody, I'd go do the briefing and I would come back and debrief to Admiral Frost what I had done. Sometimes he'd want to see me and talk to me. "What was the reaction on the question?"

So I come back from one of those, and I go up to Admiral Lowrance's office. His aide said, "Oh, the Admiral better hear this." "Well, where's the script?" No script. I briefed this one. "Well, who approved this?" "I went on my own because Admiral Burke told me to go." "Well, we can't have this." Next time Admiral Burke sent for me, I said, "Well, clear instructions. Hope I'm not going to get in trouble with Admiral Lowrance again." He laughed. He said, "Oh, Rebel." Came running down." I said, "Rebel?" "When I ask that lieutenant for an ice cream cone, I get an ice cream cone. When I ask you for an ice cream cone, I get the whole goddamn truck. Now get the hell out here." [laughs] Wonderful stories, and clearly the single greatest influence of that mid-career part of my life.

ZIERLER: A few key questions back to the briefing years, in the late 1950s. I asked you about containing the Soviet threat. From all the intelligence that you consumed, looking throughout the Third World and the communist revolutions and insurgencies in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, was the overall sense that these were largely native or domestic, or was the sense that most of these revolutions were really orchestrated from Moscow?

INMAN: That they were a mix. Stalin had used the Comintern. First, he expanded, including the Warsaw Pact and the economic ties, to have really total control inside the Soviet bloc. He then used the local communist parties, the Comintern to try to influence the rest of the world, and always looking for, where could they find another country to bring into the constellation. Stalin had died. It had continued. Elation when Cuba went communist in 1978 when the coup took place in Afghanistan and the communists came to power. But almost immediately, the Afghan communists began to feud and to split into two distinct groups, and it got to the level of a civil war. That's when the Soviets decided that they had to go in with force or they were going to lose that first new communist government.

Now all these years later, stand back, why that interest? The Straits of Makassar, the Straits of Sunda, commerce flowing back and forth, raw materials coming in go through those straits in Indonesian waters, and therefore a friendly government in Indonesia is a need, a necessity, for being comfortable that nobody is going to interfere with what you want to ship in or ship out through there.

ZIERLER: One of the most consequential discussions of course in the 20th century was when Eisenhower talked to Kennedy about Southeast Asia. Did you have any insight about what he might have told Kennedy that influenced President Kennedy's policies there?

INMAN: In 1953, when Điện Biên Phủ was falling, the French asked the U.S. to come in with military force and rescue them. We tried to persuade them not to go back and recolonize Indochina. They did anyway, and they were very bitter that we didn't come to their rescue. But Eisenhower's very specific statement—the U.S. should not be involved in any land wars in Asia—it was that simple and that direct. In the Eisenhower-Kennedy conversation, I don't have solid personal knowledge of what actually transpired in it, but I know that wasn't what drove Kennedy. Kennedy went to talk with Khrushchev, and Khrushchev decided he couldn't bully him. Insisted on neutralizing Laos, because we were interdicting flow of materials down to the Viet Cong through Laos and then ultimately moved to do the Cuban Missile Crisis, because we had put missiles in Turkey, and he saw this was the way he would get an advantage by going to Cuba. Though when Kennedy came home from Vienna, the worry in the family was, is this going to be an albatross that who lost China in 1949 and hung around the Democrats and they lost Congress in 1950, and a harbinger of what was going to happen in 1962?

It's in the NSC records. You may well have read it. They are discussing how to respond to neutralizing Laos. Bobby Kennedy reported that he had talked to Cardinal Cushing, that the Dinh brothers were great Catholics, trustworthy, loyal, that what we should do is dramatically increase our support for South Vietnam to offset any allegations that we had betrayed them by neutralizing Laos. Inside, they said, "Well, okay, but let's do it covertly. Let's don't do it overtly." But that was the beginning of the—Maxwell Taylor goes out. Then the Dinh brothers turned out not to be so cooperative, and the decision to support a coup to replace them. Big Minh, who was the head of the Vietnamese military, executed the arrest, and the brother—the priest called him a pig, and he shot both of them, and we never had a reliable government to rely on in South Vietnam after that. A little history.

ZIERLER: Last question for today—when Eisenhower gave his farewell address and he talked about the military-industrial complex, I wonder what kind of impression that left on you.

INMAN: Well, I knew the background. I knew what he was really talking about. He had wanted to create a general staff. It was in his mind in 1953. Five years, he worked at it, had never been able to get it. He finally was getting close, but he had to have legislation, to replace the Joint Chiefs [within a] general staff. The Navy League, Association of U.S. Air Force, Association of U.S. Army, all came together lobbying, and Congress blocked it. Eisenhower was furious. That's what he was talking about in the military-industrial complex, which had blocked him from getting his general staff. It was the political influence on the Congress that Navy League, Association of the U.S. Army, Association of the U.S. Air Force, had demonstrated. Now, where was that support? Scattered across industry, largely. That's what he was really worried about, what he was angry about, that drove the remarks.

ZIERLER: We'll pick up next time on the Kennedy administration and the 1960s and where your career goes from there.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Tuesday, November 9th, 2021. Once again, it is my great pleasure to be with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, once again, great pleasure to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, David.

ZIERLER: Today, just to orient ourselves, we're going to turn to the 1960s and the Kennedy administration. At the time John Kennedy was elected president, were you still in the Pentagon or had you already moved to the destroyer by that point?

INMAN: I was still in the Pentagon, still on the briefing team, and Admiral Burke. We used to go, intel briefer and operations briefer, to the White House to brief President Eisenhower's son, and occasionally General Goodpastor. Admiral Burke had arranged, during the transition, that Harry Allendorfer, who did the operations briefing, and Lieutenant Inman would go brief the president-elect. Couldn't have been more charming. I talked about the outside world for about ten minutes, got a couple of good questions, thanked me. Harry Allendorfer talked for 45 minutes, and we never got invited back again.

ZIERLER: [laughs] What's the story there? Why not?

INMAN: Clearly the president didn't want to spend that much time. Had Harry done his in ten minutes, we'd have probably been on the regular schedule to provide updates, but we weren't. I left in January, just at the time of the inauguration, and came up to Washington for a last visit before deploying. The night of the inauguration and all the balls, there was a snowstorm in Washington, so not particularly a happy time. I was then on the destroyer. I was already by that point on the destroyer until September 1961. I then came back to an office the Navy had at NSA, Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office, to pick up tracking the Soviet Navy, [which was] beginning to operate away from coastal waters.

Fast forward, there were very good HUMINT [human intelligence] reports, CIA, that they were preparing sites in Cuba for missiles. There was a flight—actually, satellite photography—had confirmed that there were sites that appeared to be being cleared for something. The administration put everything related to that under a very tight security blanket. Any communications, all [of that] had to be handled in special channels, super encrypted. In late September, a submarine tender and four submarines left the Northern Fleet area, went around Norway, down through the Norwegian Sea, and did not head south to go to either the Baltic or the Black Sea, but continued in a southwesterly direction toward Bermuda. Even obviously all of that being derived from communications, intelligence.

The imagery from U-2 flights revealed that Poltava, a ship that had transported nuclear warheads between the fleets, was in the Black Sea port, where they were known to store them. Came out through the Bosporus, Dardanelles, crossed the Med, through Gibraltar, and did not turn north to go to either the Baltic or Northern Fleets, but rather headed in a westerly direction. I made a judgment call that those movements were related, that they were going ahead and getting missiles and warheads in Cuba, and diesel submarines there to protect against any activity. Took that to my boss, who looked at it all, concurred. We went down to the Pentagon to brief the director of Naval Intelligence, who sent us to the CNO, who sent us to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who sent us to the secretary of Defense, who sent us to the White House to brief the NSC.

McGeorge Bundy was the national security advisor. We laid out the judgments. The key point here is that they would have all arrived in Cuba by the last week in October. The administration was trying to defer anything until after the midterm elections. The president on that Friday was in Chicago for a fundraiser. The national security advisor called the Attorney General over to have the briefing. He was hostile, challenging, but ultimately concluded that it was valid. We were already scrambling to look for any evidence of merchant ships with crates on board which could be containing the missiles themselves. He called his brother in Chicago and said, "Come home now." He explained he was at the fundraiser. He repeated, "You need to come home right now," so he cancelled his fundraiser and flew back. The next morning began the dialogue that resulted two days later in announcing the embargo. I was on the sidelines to watch.

Mr. McNamara, the secretary of Defense, looking for any political advantage. Getting on the communications channels without using any of the criteria, to talk to the commanding officer of the Joseph P. Kennedy, which had been put in position to do the first intercept of one of the freighters. A number of them had been identified, all headed out toward Cuba, with crates on board that were presumed to be missiles. Great uproar between the chief of Naval operations—Admiral Burke had retired; Anderson was now the CNO—between he and McNamara. And that was the end of Anderson. He did not get reappointed for another term—in those years, a CNO tour was two years, while later it changed to four years.

At any rate, what we didn't know, what was going on separately, was the walk in the woods with Bobby Kennedy and [Soviet] Ambassador Dobrynin, which he had agreed we would remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey if they would not proceed to put the missiles in Cuba, but not to make that correlation public at all. Dobrynin communicated with Khrushchev, came back and accepted. As Kennedy was about an hour from stopping the first of the merchant ships—Poltava was lingering behind the merchant ships, and the submarine tender and the submarines were southwest of Bermuda, and they had been engaged in an ASW exercise on our part. Suddenly, the ships all came to a halt, and then they turned and headed back east, so the crisis was resolved. But it was an interesting front-row seat to a major crisis.

ZIERLER: If we could rewind a little bit, as president-elect and even as candidate for the presidency, for you as an Eisenhower man, what was your response to the way Kennedy emphasized what he called flexible response and a reliance on counterinsurgency, and a pivot away, to some degree, from nuclear deterrence and mutually assured destruction?

INMAN: An honest answer, David, is at that point, I was not tracking the larger strategic implications. I wasn't concerned about it. I was very eager to maintain my political independent status, military serving whoever was elected to be the leaders, so I had no qualms about interacting with the president, interacting with the new appointees of the Kennedy administration. Interesting to me, while I had interacted with Senator Johnson when he was the majority leader, as a constituent from Texas with family visiting and wanting tickets to go to the White House tour et al, I never interacted with the vice president during that period of time.

Fast forward, I think some of this I've covered with you before. We had the abortive assignment to Turkish language school and the assistant Naval attaché, but the detailer was persistent that I needed to get out of op. intel. and do a human intelligence assignment. This time, I was going to study some Indonesian and be posted to Jakarta. Suharto had bought a number of ships from the Soviets, and the U.S. interest was trying to get on board those ships and learn about them, since we had never been on one of them in the Soviet Union itself. The British somehow inflamed the Indonesians, and not only did they try to burn down the embassy in Jakarta, but they burned down the house of a British Naval attaché in the suburbs, right next door to the house that Nancy and I would have gone into, with our at that point few-months-old son, first child.

That day, I got notified that I wasn't going to Indonesian language; I was going to go study Swedish and relieve a Marine as assistant Naval attaché in Stockholm. What I did not know then, later was briefed and told by Admiral Taylor, Bo Westin, who was the head of intelligence for the Swedish Defense Forces, had approached Admiral Taylor for help in understanding what they were collecting on the Soviet Navy in the Baltic. So I was plucked out and sent. I had to play Naval assistant attaché, travel with the ambassador, all that sort of stuff, but two days a week, I'd put on civilian clothes and take my Swedish Ministry of Defense badge and go play analyst. I worked with some very good people, and we ultimately figured out—the big question in the Swedes' mind—why did they keep having submarines pop up in international waters but right next to Swedish territorial water, inside the Baltic? What we ultimately found was that the school to train young Soviet Naval officers being assigned to nuclear submarines, who would be going on extended cruises, standing officer on the deck, watches, they were trained in the Baltic on those diesel submarines. Getting them close to the Swedish was to let them understand and learn what it was like to operate near but not quite inside territorial waters, before they would then report to the Northern Fleet, to nuclear submarines, and to deploy for reconnaissance missions off the East Coast of the United States.

There was a good deal of skepticism in Sweden—was that a really valid conclusion? That skepticism ended when one of their diesel submarines went aground. The U.S. and British designation for that class of diesel submarines were "Whiskey" class, and so it became the joke of "whiskey on the rocks." But it made what would have otherwise been a pretty boring tour reasonably exciting. I would go down every six months to London to get updated back into what the U.S. knew, in a classified sense, not to share but to help shape how I helped the Swedes analyze what they were collecting and looking into.

ZIERLER: You mentioned that you had a front-row seat to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I wonder, from where you were situated, if you had any insight as to what went wrong with the Bay of Pigs invasion.

INMAN: I did not. I was still—I can't remember exactly what I was doing.

ZIERLER: This is April 1961.

INMAN: Yeah. I was still on the Mullinnix. Of course, remember in September of 1961, we got the wall built around Berlin. I then left in October of 1961 to go to my new job at Fort Meade. Again, I'm looking at things that are of interest to the Navy, and not yet looking at the larger international strategic activities. That was still to come.

ZIERLER: What about, from your vantage point, if you perceived any differences in the intelligence interagency process, with the Kennedy administration?

INMAN: Well, I'd have to go back and think. That's when Helms had relieved Allen Dulles. He was a superb intelligence officer, but he was also a superb political player. He managed to be part of the Tuesday lunches at the White House. President Johnson, the secretary of State, the secretary of Defense, Helms, and the national security advisor. That took the place of a lot of what otherwise would have been national security meetings, et al. That's where things were really hashed out, decisions made. Sometimes Bobby Kennedy would join those lunches, but not always.

INMAN: My first posting was as the—we discussed this a little bit earlier—this was when I was assigned to be the analyst for Soviet ships beginning to operate away from coastal waters, beginning to be a blue-water Navy. I kept a little 3x5 card on every ship, and tracked what it had done during the week, what it was doing. I went in on New Year's Day to update my cards and could not read any of the raw traffic. It had been totally reformatted for automated input into a computer! I complained to anybody who would listen that they were destroying a good analytical effort, and their response was to tell me to learn to interact with a computer and use that, as opposed to my handwritten 3x5 cards. That's when I got introduced to a blossoming new world that I resisted as long as I could. Then we described the Swedish tour, what I did there.

In the Summer of 1967, orders to Hawaii, to head current intelligence for the Pacific Fleet, and we were deeply engaged already in Vietnam. One of the assignments I got was to go once a quarter to Saigon, and occasionally to Da Nang, for a firsthand—what were they saying at MACV [Military Assistance Command, Vietnam] headquarters, at the Embassy, at the I Corps headquarters in Da Nang, about the state of the war and their general attitudes toward what they were getting from the Navy in the way of air strikes, close air support, et al. I was not encouraged from those events about either the management of the war or the progress, and I would admit some personal unease, being driven around Saigon, un-air-conditioned vehicles with the windows all down. Motor bikes, occasionally they would throw a grenade or a Molotov cocktail into one of the cars. It never happened to me, but knowing that it had happened, it was an area of concern. Da Nang at the time I was there when shelling was actually taking place. But I felt no sense of personal danger out of it, though. A little adrenaline pump.

Going back to Hawaii, early January—we're now into 1968—I had just gotten home for dinner, and I got a call from the intelligence watch officer asking me where they could find the files of the North Korean navy, an unusual request. Thought about it, finished my meal, and decided to drive back into the headquarters, and found that the Pueblo had been seized. I did not even know the Pueblo had been deployed! They had kept it compartmented [i.e., highly classified and segregated from other intelligence material], didn't think that head of current intelligence needed to know that. Once I got over my anger at all of that, I sat through the night with the assistant chief of staff for public affairs, great guy. We kept a log. What did they know? How did they know it? And what action did they take? Those logs became the basis for much of the inquiries that were later done by Vice Admiral Roeder and then a commission once the Pueblo crew came back.

What it caused me to focus on was, why had we deployed Pueblo off North Korea? The answer, from the collection branch—well, it was to train them. They were going to go operate off Vladivostok, and it was to train them in a, quote, "less hostile environment." Well, the Soviets had comparable kinds of ships off most U.S. ports. If they had seized one of ours, we'd go seize one of theirs. North Koreans didn't have a counterpart. There was no counteraction. The judgment was that there was no action the U.S. could take. The challenge for me was to say, "Are we taking other risks, where what you're collecting doesn't warrant the level of risk?"

I decided to look at the airborne missions flying along the east coast of North Korea and the Sea of Japan. What were they collecting? They were big EC-121, big airframes. They were collecting overwhelmingly radar signals. Well, if you were going to conduct strikes into North Korea, pinpointing exactly what kind of radars, it would be useful, but there was no prospect, particularly tied down as we were in Vietnam, that we were going to go up and do, unless they went south of the 38th Parallel, and there was no sign that that was brewing. So I recommended to CINCPAC fleet commander, General John Highland, that we cancel the missions, and that the risk was greater than the value of what was being collected. He said, well, it sounded like the right answer to him, but he didn't want to make that decision, that it should be made by the Seventh Fleet commander. So he sent me out to brief Vice Admiral Bringle and his staff. They happened to be in port in Yokosuka at that timeframe.

Vice Admiral Bringle had been on the Pac Fleet staff before he was promoted as deputy chief staff of operations and plans. I knew him. Flew out, got there, and present was the assistant chief of staff for operations, assistant chief of staff for intelligence, and the commanding officer of the VQ-1, the squadron that ran the flights. I made my pitch, and then they came down very hard, that these missions were absolutely critical to train the crews that would then be down operating over the Gulf of Tonkin to provide early warning protection for the Navy air strikes into North Vietnam. So Vice Admiral Bringle told me that—this was in February of 1969—he told me that he'd have to side with his operators and intelligence officers. Thanked me for coming out, but that he wasn't going to order the change. On the 15th of April, EC-121 was shot down off the coast of North Korea with a loss of all the crew. What has lingered all these years—could I have made a better argument, a more forceful argument, that would have led to their cancelling the flights?

Now, this was almost never intelligence. It was things going on operationally, or planning. You'll understand later why this proved to be pretty important for my future assignments. Vice Admiral Cousins was relieved by Vice Admiral Mickey Weisner as CTF 77. Again, I interacted with him. Then he came to relieve Vice Admiral Bringle as Seventh Fleet commander. Because he already knew me from those trips, he announced right after he got there that while I was going to continue to be fleet intelligence officer, he was also going to use me as his executive assistant, even though he wasn't authorized an executive assistant. It was an interesting time. He would get messages for his signature drafted by Operations or drafted by Plans, and he would send them up to me to rewrite them, not to change the substance, but to sound like him. It wasn't that hard to do, and why Plans and Operations didn't understand that, I never comprehended.

Nonetheless, now I'm doing my normal job, plus he always wanted me to travel with him, and he loved nothing more—there was a big aircraft, an A-3, converted into an executive plane. It was the largest plane that could land on a carrier. It had been converted. It was the modern-day equivalent of having a Gulfstream. We'd get into the Gulf of Tonkin, spend a day, helicopter down to the carrier, spend a few hours, and then launch off in that A-3, go to Vietnam, Da Nang, or to Saigon, or go to Bangkok, go to one of the air bases, or to go to Laos, or go to Singapore, or go up to Korea, and then come back and land on the carrier, and then helicopter back to the Oklahoma City. Philippines was also sometimes a target. I had, I think it was 26 launches and traps, and I never got comfortable doing that at all.

There are another whole series of stories that evolve around—she was worried about being trapped in the Golden Ghetto. But of course in the attaché job, heavy entertainment responsibilities, with very little financial help in that case. Let me back up to tell one other story of luck. We arrived in Stockholm in a blizzard on the 3rd of January 1965. They actually took the plane into a hangar to unload it. The Naval attaché who was going to greet me et al, no sign of him. I flagged a Mercedes taxi driver who took the three of us and 13 pieces of luggage, plus a sword, and went flying the 16 miles. In spite of the snow, he was marvelous at handling the vehicle, into Stockholm, to the hotel in Lidingö where we would live for a while. The Naval attaché was waiting at the hotel to greet us, and to tell me it was all set up the next morning that we would call on the ambassador and then go call on the foreign ministry, so I would need to be in uniform with my sword, full dress. That was an introduction into what life was going to be like.

When we call on the ambassador, to the shock of the Naval attaché, I knew the ambassador well, because he had been the assistant secretary of state for Asia and Admiral Burke used to send me to brief him, fairly regularly. We had pleasant conversation. It was the opening day for Parliament, the Riksdag. He was going over to the opening and then going on to the Palace for a luncheon. He asked me, were we going to live in a suburb of Lidingö or the suburb of Djursholm, where all the attachés and all the other embassy people lived, except for the ambassador where they had a beautiful house, and where the DCM had a big apartment near the embassy. We had just the one child who was just two. We wanted to live in the city, not out in one of the houses in the suburbs. He thought that was very interesting. He gets to the luncheon and sitting next to him at the luncheon is the wife of the Royal Stable master, the Baroness von Platen.

Casually, the ambassador asked her, did she by any chance know of a flat in the city that somebody might be willing to rent to a new assistant Naval attaché and wife, one child. She seemed interested. 3:00 that afternoon, there was a call to the embassy to make sure they knew that there was a new cultural affairs attaché coming, who was Black, and they wanted to make sure that's not who was interested in the apartment, that was a young Naval officer. Turned out a family-owned building at 45 Strandvägen, which is like being on Park Avenue in New York, and the one Baron von Platen who ran all the businesses had the entire top floor. The next Baron von Platen who was in the foreign ministry had the next floor. Below that, the third floor, there were two apartments, one an uncle and aunt lived in, and the other was vacant. That was what they kept for the Baroness von Platen if the Royal Stable master should die and she needed to come back, leave the palace and come back and live in the building. If they rented it to a Swede, they couldn't get them out, but a visiting American, they were pretty sure there was no staying. So the Inmans got the flat on 45 Strandvägen at a very reasonable price. No Swede ever turned down an invitation.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: We did a lot of entertaining over the two and a half years. Had the second youngster while we were living there. All of that contributed to the milieu of Stockholm being an interesting tour. Then to Hawaii, total opposite. I'm working 18, 20 hours a day. The boys had been totally healthy in Stockholm, and then we get to Hawaii, and they get all the childhood diseases known. The diseases festered in that warm climate, and of course the older guy was in kindergarten; he would bring home many things to his younger brother as well. The boys were four and a half and one and a half when we came to Hawaii. That meant when we went on to Japan, they were six and a half and three and a half. A wonderful age for them.

Now picking back up, Nancy gets in the house, doesn't want to get stuck in the Golden Ghetto, gets connected through one of our long-term friends who was there on the Naval Force of Japan staff to do volunteer English language instruction at the Japanese Navy's second service school. These were people who were going to be posted as attachés, assistant attachés, in countries where English language was a requirement. The boys would get to go along and watch kendo matches, while she was doing her volunteering, this language. Through the same connection, she got to know a wonderful lady whose family owned the Daibutsu in Kamakura. Her husband had taken her family name, Sato, to be the high priest. She had a son in the Foreign Ministry. She was a very bright, thoughtful lady. She got Nancy involved in Ikebana [the art of] flower bending, and a lot of other things. With the benefit of mentorship from Mrs. Sato, she really got to see a Japanese woman's world in detail. She and the boys traveled all over Japan by car, by train, by air. Had another wife with two youngsters about the same age who would travel with her. So over the two and a half years, they really saw Japan. If you were to ask Nancy and the boys their favorite assignment in the Navy years, it would be Japan.

For me, I was never gone longer than about nine or ten weeks, so unlike the seven-month deployment to the Med, you didn't lose that ability to track the family. On the other hand, I learned pretty quickly that if you're not there when rules have to be established, you don't change the rules when you come back for your port visit. I had resisted having a dog. Nancy's dog had stayed with her parents when we were married. We had avoided getting a dog during these deployments. When I came home from my first deployment and saw the little house we were living in, had all moved into, the three of them had decided there would be a dog. Recognizing that I had already lost that battle, when we were going out of the Officer's Club, we saw a bulletin board, a sign, a young Civil Engineering Corps officer and his wife, were raising AKC-registered schnauzer puppies. Instead of going back to the house, we went straight out, took the eight-week-old biggest pup in the group—Sir Claudie of Rimel, better known as Scruffy, and Scruffy became a member of the family for 15 years.

ZIERLER: Bob, we must get back to the Kennedy administration. Your posting at Fort Meade, what was the world of cryptography like at that point?

INMAN: NSA had a lot of success, and the details of it all remain classified. It was a significant source, but not against the toughest targets. The Soviets were extremely communication security conscious. When you were able to get something, it was human error, almost always. They had not changed the keying materials, [to] schedule [and] reuse, and with good luck, NSA would find them. There was much greater success against a lot of other countries around the world. Particularly helpful when you could read the diplomatic traffic. I think that's about all I'm comfortable talking about in that era.

ZIERLER: When President Kennedy was assassinated, where were you that day and what was that event like for you?

INMAN: I was at Fort Meade. We instantly went on alert to say, "Could this be a precursor for an attack?" We found no preparation increasing the readiness of Soviet forces or any of the others. The conclusion pretty quickly was that this was domestic, at least that there was no preparation for a follow-on attack. We had an event in Washington that evening that we went to, and the memory that's still there of people lined up—I guess this was the day after, when the president has been—the deceased president has been placed in the rotunda of the Capitol, and the lines that ran out and down Independence Avenue, of people waiting to go. It was a very somber time.

We go to Sweden, Sweden to Hawaii, Hawaii to Japan, so I was out of Washington all of President Johnson's tenure, except those first few months. Watched from a distance. We were out of the country during the civil rights legislation, voting rights legislation. Our first date had been to the Officer's Club at Bethesda. The second date had been to a Tex-Mex restaurant called La Fonda, located at 17th and R. We had gone back to La Fonda for me to propose in January of 1958. It was a little restaurant that had lots of ties for us. Fast forward, we've come from Sweden to Hawaii, stopped briefly in Washington to visit her parents, and then we're getting ready to go to Japan, and we decide to make a quick trip to Washington to see the grandparents before going, and decided we wanted to go to La Fonda for dinner. This is after the 1968 riots and the burning of 14th Street, et al. Absolute opposition—"You cannot go, cannot go." So we didn't. Then it's the Seventh Fleet tour. Come back to National War College. Early on, we were going to go to La Fonda. Nobody else was going in from Virginia to restaurants in Washington. There was no parking place on our street, so we wound up parked on S, and then walked up 17th Street. Suddenly, we saw this crowd of young Black males on the side, blocking the sidewalk at a club. A little apprehensive about walking up to it. Just at that point, a taxi pulls up, and this apparition, totally in white, with a cape, with a big hat, et al, gets out of the taxi. I simply burst out laughing at the sight. The young men who were there all turned around, they said—quite excited—it turned out to be a drag place that they were watching who was going to—and they parted like the proverbial Red Sea, and we went on to La Fonda, had our dinner. No distraction. But it sort of added—we were not intimidated, when we came back, about being in the city, going to the city. As long as you weren't rabble-rousing and the rest of it, people weren't going to bother you.

National War College was a great year. Classes 9:00 to 12:00, afternoons free, sometimes all of Wednesday free. Great time, with the weekends totally free. Time with the family that I had never had, going all the way back to 1958. I have a lot of stories from that time, encounters. But as we got toward the end of the year, I didn't have orders. Everybody else in the class did. I didn't. Then I got invited to come have lunch with Admiral Cousins, who was now the vice chief of Naval operations. Pleasant lunch in his office. Then he sort of casually said, "By the way, Bobby, if you don't object, you're going to come be my executive assistant." It took me all of ten seconds to bluntly ask him, "Is Admiral Weisner going to relieve you as the vice chief?" He laughed and said, "Yes," and then told me the story, how did I come to be the candidate. Long tradition—if the chief of Naval operations was a surface officer, or a submariner, the vice chief would be an aviator.

ZIERLER: Back to 1964, obviously you weren't in a front-row seat at this point, but did you have any particular insight as to what happened with Gulf of Tonkin?

INMAN: I certainly picked up a lot of knowledge from going to research it, wanting to understand. We had regularly done destroyer cruises around the perimeter of the Gulf of Tonkin, including Hainan Island, Chinese. Exciting radars, again, the type of thing if you ever needed to go in and operate, what you might encounter, called DeSoto missions. The destroyer out starting what would have been one of those missions, on the 2nd of August, reported PT boats coming out. Air cover sent. They fired. Everybody in heightened state of alert, alarm. Two days later, on the 4th, report more PT boats coming out. High waves. Seas had gotten very rough, and radar hitting the top of those waves could give you images that looked like they might be ships, and ships that were moving. Air cover was sent. They did not spot any PT boats. Nonetheless, McNamara reported to the president—second attack, and that led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and escalating the war. A year and a half later, one of the PT boats that had wandered south and was captured, taken into Da Nang, crew interrogated. They had gone out on the 2nd of August with authority to fire if they determined that a destroyer was in their territorial waters.

The end result was that there were PT boats on the 2nd. They would have attacked depending on where the destroyer was located. There were no PT boats on the 4th. It's not all that unusual, when already anxiety is high, and you're getting radar reflections, to assume the worst, which is what they did. Within the Seventh Fleet, CTF-77, there was a good deal of skepticism of the second attack. But in those first moments there were flash messages—"We're under attack again." When that got to Washington, they didn't stop to say, "Are you sure?" but in fact reacted. I am not a great admirer of Secretary McNamara's tour as secretary of Defense, and this is just one of the reasons. Once he made his decision on something, there was no looking to correct a mistake. We could go through endless stories about it over time, including much of the conduct of Vietnam and the war et al.

ZIERLER: Of course, this was way above your pay grade at the time, but in retrospect, one of the great counterfactuals in national security history in the 20th century—did Lyndon Johnson continue the policies of President Kennedy in Southeast Asia, or did he take policy in Vietnam in different places than John Kennedy would have?

INMAN: He followed exactly the track the Kennedys were on, and notice I say "The Kennedys," because Bobby Kennedy played a very big role in the background in all of this. But the escalation came—first, whether it was dealing with the Soviets or—Johnson wasn't going to be accused of being softer than the Kennedys, and he kept the team—Dean Rusk, McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, until—Bundy was the first to leave and to be replaced by Walt Rostow, who had been his deputy in the first year of the Kennedy administration, before he went to head Policy Planning at State.

When I came back, and particularly when I knew I was going to have to testify at the Church and Pike Committee timeframe, I did a lot of reexamining, just as I had done once I was out of the Seventh Fleet. What did they know, when did they know it, how did they act, what was valid, what was not valid? One of the interesting and ultimately sad moments of the Seventh Fleet tour—Admiral Weisner wanted to visit Cambodia, so we bounce off on the A-3 and fly into Phnom Penh. The head of the Cambodian Navy was a commander—handsome, bright, charismatic, great host. The ambassador recorded meetings with the prime minister, others. It was a 36-hour stay, to get briefed from that perspective on how things were going in Cambodia, the continued flow of supplies down to the Viet Cong, Laos, Cambodia. But particularly impressive was the young commander. Half his boats were along the river that runs on into Vietnam and out, the other half down in Sihanoukville. We did not go visit there. We did not leave the Phnom Penh environment. Fast forward, we've left Vietnam. Pol Pot and his crew have successfully staged a coup to take the Cambodian government. We offered a helicopter to the prime minister. He declined, and said his only regret was that he had placed faith in the United States. The young commander of the Cambodian Navy was among those captured and killed by the Pol Pot gang. So it was simply a reminder—you make commitments and you get people to rely on you; what do you do when things go south? One could draw a line onto Afghanistan and the departure this year, and see where people who have elected to aid, support, help our efforts feel abandoned when we depart.

ZIERLER: You mentioned you were not stateside for almost all of the Johnson administration, which included of course civil rights legislation and all of the racial politics that were happening in the country at that time. In the military environments that you were operating in abroad, was your sense that the U.S. military was a positive force for advancing civil rights? Were there opportunities for African Americans abroad in the military that were not available at home?

INMAN: The answer is definitely yes, though remember this goes back to Truman. Truman had ordered the military integrated. What it didn't do was to lead to a heavy focus on recruiting in the officer corps. Enlisted corps, the Navy, the percentage of Black sailors exceeded the percentage of the population. It was even more so in the Army, maybe a little less in the Air Force. It was also in the Marines. Why? Because it was a better route up out of poverty than the civilian world offered them, at that stage. Promotion in the enlisted grades is absolutely based on merit and performance. The problem on the officer side was the lack of recruiting. College graduates weren't nearly as interested in seeing the military as a path to success. You clearly got exceptions—Sam Gravely in the Navy, Colin Powell in the Army, who went on up to three-star, four-star level. There was no sign that I saw of discrimination in promotion. There just weren't that many who had been tempted to come in to be officers. They weren't actively recruiting at the historically Black colleges and universities, et al. That changed. This was very big on Zumwalt's list, so you get a lot in the 1970s. But we're on to Nixon at this point in time, long past Johnson.

ZIERLER: Were you aware of and sensitive to all of the antiwar sentiment in the United States during the 1960s?

INMAN: Remember, in Hawaii, our news coverage was 24 hours late. They'd fly out the tapes from the broadcasts, so we'd see them 24 hours later. We got coverage of demonstrations and antiwar [activity]. Then we would hear from people, our friends, of the hostility that military uniforms were encountering, all over the country. Pretty dramatic difference in how they have reacted in the Iraq and Afghanistan timeframe. But then, remember that the draft still existed, and the draft was a huge factor in public attitudes toward the military. Now, we shift to an all-volunteer force under Nixon, 1973, and the big difference—a lot of bright youngsters who hadn't wanted to get drafted had volunteered for service in the Air Force and the Navy. Suddenly, when there was no draft, those numbers dropped dramatically, and particularly the Air Force and Navy had to go recruit heavily. The ready community willing to be recruited were the minority communities. That's when we did see a surge in the numbers, really, actively recruiting to fill your needs, with an all-volunteer force, no draft, no inspiration for people to go volunteer.

ZIERLER: For you, of course by definition, you can't be a political person at this point. But in the way that the Vietnam War was playing out, did that make you rethink any of your own bedrock assumptions about Cold War containment?

So there was no declining in that timeframe, containment of the Soviet Union, but there was the big issue of playing the China card, and were there openings. Should we go from not even being willing to talk to Chinese outside China? I told you this before—I wasn't supposed to dialogue, at all, with the Chinese defense attaché, but I was the treasurer of the Attaché Association; I had to dialogue with him. Actually, he was a very nice guy, easy to work with. I worked hard on trying to recruit a young Russian Soviet naval attaché. I think probably from their side, they equally were trying to work on me. But, good dialogue within the Attaché Association. We weren't at swords' points. Willing to have dialogue, invite them to functions et al, go to theirs.

But out at sea, Vietnam was all-consuming. My trips to visit MACV while I was still in Hawaii had made me pretty skeptical about the conduct of the war. Once I got Seventh Fleet, and particularly with the regular visits Admiral Weisner and I would do, I came to distrust virtually everything that came out of MACV. The focus on body counts—they were trying to please McNamara, one of the things he took as a measure of success. The whole Phoenix Operation, and the rest of it. But you go back—the lesson to be learned—your decision to support the change of leadership coups, you now own it, and the big issue is finding people who have the capacity to govern. We clearly didn't learn those lessons. We repeated them in Iraq, and we got outmaneuvered by Soleimani in who would end up running the Iraqi government. Afghanistan, whether it's Karzai or Ashraf Ghani, neither had the capacity to really lead a country. And corruption—in Vietnam, in—when you flow huge amounts of money in for aid, corruption seems to quickly follow and take up a lot of the energy, as well as siphoning off a lot of the cash.

ZIERLER: Last question for today, which will foreshadow to the origin story of your involvement with Caltech, and that is, in the late 1960s, the expansion of the space program, the Apollo mission, and of course the landing of a man on the Moon. What were these events like for you at the time?

INMAN: Enormously exciting. Alan Shepard going into space, John Glenn circling the globe, and ultimately, Neil Armstrong onto the moon. You had a whole new bunch of heroes. The seven original astronauts. You dealt with tragedy, the loss of the two different shuttles over a period of time, which re-emphasized the risks that are engaged in taking man into space. That's why the cost of manned over unmanned is a factor of ten to one. That's the cost of trying to make sure people survive and return. But it was Kennedy's going to the Moon, Johnson's role, which led to vice presidents heading Space Council. I saw that Vice President Harris has had her first meeting of the Space Council recently. So, some traditions continue.

ZIERLER: That's a great place to pick up for next time, where we'll start with the early 1970s and the trajectory leading to you being named director of Naval Intelligence.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, November 15th, 2021. Once again, it is my great privilege and honor to be with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, as always, a pleasure to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, David.

INMAN: Let me briefly go back to the response on Kennedy. The lesson I took away from that, how much of it I recognized at the time I'm not sure, of both the opportunities and hazards of face-to-face meetings of prime ministers and leaders of other countries who are potential or real adversaries. The key here, the impact on the meeting in Vienna in 1961 between Kennedy and Khrushchev, and Khrushchev came away from that meeting comfortable that he could intimidate Kennedy and achieve what he wanted to achieve. That led to the building of the wall in Berlin and ultimately to the Cuban Missile Crisis. So how the other leader interprets can play out for a long period of time.

Fast forwarding to Nixon, I had watched his first term from a distance, being at Pac Fleet then being at Seventh Fleet. I came back to the National War College as they were already going into the campaign for reelection. The Democrats swung left to a South Dakota candidate [George McGovern], and it led to a Nixon landslide. I became aware in that timeframe of ongoing efforts to change the nature of our relationships with the Soviet Union and ultimately China, and the whole issue was détente, and that you were best talking than rebuffing. I supported that approach. But you have to, in that process, not convey weakness. It's important that you convey you know what you're doing, where you want to go, and you're aware of the consequences of a clash. The Soviets are skeptical of the approach to détente. It was 10 years ahead of when they were really ready for considered change. But it did set up the groundwork for significant arms control negotiations, and ultimately agreements trying to first put a cap on the number of nuclear weapons and their growth, and then gradually to reduce the size of nuclear armaments. That would really come to fruition beginning a decade later, and then dramatically a decade after that, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the effort to persuade Kazakhstan and Belorussia and the Ukraine to stop being nuclear powers, which they had briefly become [after the Soviet Union collapsed].

Backing up to 1972, 1973, 1974, while we're talking to the Soviets, the more significant strategic change is the dialogue in Paris between Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger. All that enabled behind-the-scenes negotiations to get out of Vietnam. Then Nixon's trip to China, and the recognition of a One China policy, though we were not prepared to shift at that first stage recognition from Taipei to Beijing and the UN seat. I took notice that I began to observe the importance of parallel activity, ping pong diplomacy. That you could in fact have informal activities, what I now refer to often as 1.5 activities, that have no official standing but open the process for dialogue. I guess if there's any other underlying strategic issue here for me, it is the willingness to dialogue and continuing to dialogue, when you convey with clarity your goals, your strategic vision, your willingness to understand that your adversaries have a very different vision. The whole point of the dialogue is to keep the adversarial status from becoming hostile, avoiding conflict. One of the memorable elements on the Navy side, on the U.S. side, was incidents at sea. Negotiations as the Soviets had become a blue-water navy, and we were increasingly encountering one another out on the open oceans. An agreement of how you dealt with those. Again, the same basic theme—how do you keep adversarial activities from becoming hostile?

ZIERLER: What role did the Navy play in the strategic considerations that were underpinning détente? The basic principles agreement, the general understanding that nuclear war was unwinnable for everyone—what role did the Navy play in those strategic discussions?

INMAN: The Navy had, of course, fought to have a role in the triad. Development both of the nuclear submarine and missiles on nuclear submarines that led to Polaris, in pretty dramatic compressed timeframes. When you get to the 1970s, that's already in place. Now, you are looking for the stability of the triad. but to recognize that to avoid escalation, you need interaction. You need to consider what all your other interests are, and how do you avoid hostilities that could escalate to nuclear exchange. Incidents at sea plays a significant role in trying to mitigate the possibility of actions accelerating to the level of hostility that would produce a nuclear exchange.

ZIERLER: On the domestic front, with the Watergate crisis, were you paying attention to it from the level of it becoming a constitutional crisis, where there are military components to this?

INMAN: As the Watergate scandal unfolded, and we looked toward the prospect of impeachment, and as it raised increasingly the issue of the emotional stability of the president himself and how far he was prepared to go to try to hold onto power, there were concerns about whether the military would be called on to get engaged in activity that would divert attention, and then toward the very end, where the military would be called on to lead. Remember that I came out of the National War College in June of 1972, and I moved to be the executive assistant to the Navy's vice chief, so I was watching these events unfold from that vantage point until 1 December 1973. I left and went to Hawaii before we got into a deep crisis stage of Watergate, so I was not present on the scene.

Interestingly, there were rumors for years that I was Deep Throat, that I was Woodward's source, and it was made all the more amusing by the fact that I went to Hawaii at the heart of it! There was no way I could have been meeting with him. It took really until he ultimately revealed Mark Felt as his source to finally put those rumors totally to bed. I had encountered Woodward in the Pentagon when he had to interview other people. We had had a reasonably pleasant exchange. Then so, under the basis that we knew one another, that I was his prime source.

But anyway, we're in Hawaii, and we come back to Washington in September. My third vice chief, Admiral Holloway, had moved up to be the CNO in July 1974. Then he brought me back in September of 1974 to be the director of Naval Intelligence. That's the beginning of my personal interaction across the intelligence community, being part of the National Foreign Intelligence Board, chaired by the DCI. At that point, it was still Bill Colby. But National Intelligence Estimates, the annual look at our relationship to the Soviet Union, trying to assess both strengths and weaknesses, where things were likely to go, I jumped into that with fervor.

BCK in the fall of 1974, I took two footnotes. One was on the ASW role. Then the other was on the Backfire bomber. The majority view was that it was a strategic strike triad. I was persuaded by the people who worked for me, who tracked it all, that in fact what Backfire had been designed for was an anti-carrier, for a high-speed, low-level dash across Denmark, and to pop up to do attacks on U.S. carriers in the Norwegian sea. They had seen us exercise there. They were concerned. Over the years, they were concerned about potential impact.

The NIE is published, and I get a call; the Secretary of Defense wanted to see me. This was Dr. Jim Schlesinger, my first encounter with the great man. I went down, and what he had was the NIE, and he wanted to know the basis of my intellectual judgments to do the two footnotes, so I explained it. He said, "Well, one is brochure-manship you bought"—"Yeah, well you may have a point"—and dismissed me. But that was the beginning of my having some occasional ongoing dialogue with the secretary of Defense. What else was going on in that same timeframe? In November of 1974, Seymour Hersh had begun publishing a series of articles on real and perceived perfidies of the intelligence community over the previous 25 years, which ultimately launched investigations in both the Senate and the House, as they put together the select committees to go investigate all those charges that Hersh had raised, and then subsequently other charges that popped up.

Now, remember I've gone from managing maybe 120 people, to 16 September 1974, managing 3,600 people, scattered across six organizations, with a fairly small headquarters staff. That's where the estimating process was centered, and the first time to manage a large number of civilian employees as well as ongoing military. At that stage, [Gerald] Ford had taken over, and a new OMB and all the rest of it, and something new called zero-based budgeting. I didn't know what that meant, had no background and experience for it. I looked through and didn't find anybody who knew anything about it. Then I was told there was a very talented woman who had been in the Defense Department who had retired and followed her husband to Atlanta. He became terminally ill and died. Betty Swift. I reached out to ask if she would be willing to come back to Washington and help us understand and put together a budget response for zero-based budgeting. She said she didn't want to be a consultant, but she'd be willing to come back to actually have that challenge. So I brought her back, hired her, GS-15, in the Office of Naval Intelligence. Pretty quickly, I had a request for a meeting with Navy captains who were heading the subordinate organization, to inform me they couldn't work for a woman. My response was very direct: I didn't know anything about zero-based budgeting, and I was certain they didn't, and Betty Swift did, so live with it, you're going to be reporting to her for preparation of our budgets going forward. We were the only organization to get an increased budget for the next year.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Suddenly I was the hero for having hired Betty Swift. But there was a much deeper lesson, of recognizing the talent that lay in the women who were serving in government, and what they could bring if you empowered them. That led to opening up the Naval intelligence specialty for women officers. Didn't think that one through too thoroughly because what that was going to eventually lead to was women at sea, because you couldn't compete equitably for promotion if you didn't have the same potential assignments along the way. You can see a whole strain of activity that gets started.

The House committee one was more serious. They had become aware of the Navy doing peripheral reconnaissance with nuclear submarines off the Soviet Union, both in the Barents Sea and in the Sea of Japan and the waters off Kamchatka Peninsula in the Pacific, observing Soviet naval activity to understand their testing of their weapons. The concern in the Committee was, were we penetrating the 12-mile territorial limit in those observations, and was there a risk of a submarine going aground and therefore touching off an escalation to nuclear conflict? A lot of concern in the Navy, in the Defense Department, about revealing any of the details of the submarine reconnaissance, but I finally got permission to be straightforward, to impress on the staffer the incredible sensitivity of this if it were leaked or potentially suddenly making these missions at risk for being attacked, so the operational details, where they were actually located, to be held in a very compartmented fashion. He checked with his chairman, Otis Pike, got concurrence. We examined all of the various episodes. I then went to testify. The chairman excluded everyone except the committee members and the specific staffer. We went through it, and they concluded that there was no risk of creating the kind of incident, a vision that led to escalation.

This will come up later as a leak from that committee. The staffer was so enflamed that he resigned from the committee, because of the leak. It had almost certainly come from the staff director, and it had gone to Daniel Schorr, CBS News. CBS asked if it would be damaging if it were leaked. They were told it would be, so they refused to broadcast. He went to the New York Times. They declined. He went to the Washington Post. They declined. He went to The Village Voice, and they published it. It created some risk, increased risk, telling the Soviets exactly what we had been doing and where. Schorr got fired by CBS News and went on to be one of my great critics over the years that followed.

What we've really dealt with, and I think we've done the story earlier, of how the ranking minority members of both Senate and House went to see President Ford to get him to stop this kind of damage to the intelligence community. Has anything gone right? Hearings with Inman. If a chairman—have him come back when there's a dispute, brief. That occurred a lot over the next six months. It laid the groundwork for my working with Congress for the next seven years, and for my being accelerated in promotion to the job at DIA for a year, and then on to NSA after that.

Back to your strategic question, I'm trying to remember what was going—ah!—arms control, and verification of treaties. The issue of ratification of the SALT II agreement was before the Senate. Senator John Glenn is very opposed to it, because he doesn't think we can verify. We evolved into a process that ran for several months, where Vice President Mondale would host a luncheon with a single senator, and the other two participants at that lunch were the undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering, Bill Perry, and Bob Inman. I had moved through subsequent jobs, but I kept being the one to go to the lunches. We did that with a substantial number of senators over months, which again expanded both my interaction with the vice president but also with members of the Senate, as they're examining.

Then we had the coup in Iran, Shah deposed, and we lost our collection sites, Taxman sites, in the mountains of northern Iran, which had been a critical element of verification. There you could get the actual launch of the test missiles. By capturing the telemetry, you could assess throw-weight of missiles, likely. From the other collection out of Kamchatka, you could get the reentry vehicle. These were pretty critical elements for assessing. Having lost that great flat, could you recover? This is a delicate part of our conversation. We looked at geography. We recognized there was only one place that not only could replace but improve on what you could—because instead of looking at a side view, you would be looking right down the throat of launches from Tyuratam. So we entered into sealing the highly classified negotiation with a country that could accommodate that. Negotiations were done, and I was by this point director of NSA. We're now on to 1979, halfway through that tour. The negotiators for China were MIT graduates who had stayed and not gone to Taiwan. The full fact of that and what came out of it, all the details remain classified. Bob Gates got "the fact of" released when he wrote From the Shadows. This will come up again in subsequent conversations that you and I have, when we get to 2012 and the approach from the Chinese for wanting to enter into a dialogue with me that goes on to this date. It was when I asked why he was [approaching] me, what I got was, "We remember 1979."

ZIERLER: To go back to 1972, either from where you sat at the time, or looking back in retrospect, with Nixon's opening to China, what aspects of that did you understand as an attempt to drive a wedge between the Chinese and the Soviets, and what aspects of that did you see as prophetic in recognition of what China would go on to achieve and be essentially a co-superpower of the 21st century?

INMAN: Rewind to the middle 1950s. The growing assumption in the U.S. was that Stalin had successfully expanded his empire, and it was one great communist mob, that there were all kinds of Chinese military officers going to Soviet advanced colleges, training and things. Then there began to be reports that all was not smooth between Mao and Stalin. Stalin died in 1953. Khrushchev, after a little shuffling, took over and lasted until 1964. There began to be, during that timeframe, evidence of some disagreements between—and that allegedly at one point, Stalin, even though they had helped earlier, had considered going and attacking the Chinese nuclear capability that was being put together. You get on into the 1970s, or actually beginning in 1969, when Nixon is assuming office to try and separate China and Soviet Union. Could you play the China card? How did you develop a China card to be able to play? That clearly figured into the whole thrust to the opening with China.

There's a wonderfully colorful story that takes place—I heard the story from [Vernon] Walters himself when he was the deputy director of the CIA. But when the Kissinger-Zhou Enlai negotiations were going on in Paris, Kissinger would fly over and have every detail of it suppressed. Walters was the Army attaché, defense attaché, in Paris. He had been with my late father-in-law, Harold Russo, shepherded de Gaulle in North Africa and on through to Paris. Walters, having grown up and spent a lot of time in Switzerland and France, extremely fluent in the language, had established a relationship with President Pompidou, saw a bit of him, a fair amount of him socially. He was a great raconteur, so he was fun to have at a dinner table. He would always entertain the guests. Kissinger departs for Paris. The plane develops a mechanical problem and diverts to Rhein-Main airport next to Frankfurt. They park the airplane out on the dark side of the runway, but as it's being diverted, great panic. This is going to expose all the negotiations, destroy them. The solution, which Walters offered, was to borrow the French president's plane to go to Rhein-Main and pick up Kissinger and bring him on to Paris. Walters goes to the presidential palace. It is a palace. Tells him it's an exceedingly sensitive matter; can he borrow his plane to pick up someone and bring them to Paris? Pompidou said yes, arranged it. Kissinger goes down the runway, up into the president's plane and the negotiations go on, on track, and there's no exposure. Walters is authorized to go thank the president for his great help in some delicate matters, to which Pompidou had only one question—"Was she French?"

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: I can't do justice to Walters' flamboyant telling of the experience, but it does convey to you the level of both sensitivity and also drive to make those negotiations successful. It did lead to the opening. But it also did suggest that beginning to deal with China as not an asset of the [Soviets]—

ZIERLER: At a more tactical level, with the opening to China, what impact did you see this would have both on Taiwan and North Korea?

INMAN: I'm trying to refocus on where we are with North Korea at that point in the 1970s. Their nuclear program had not yet surfaced, so your concern with North Korea was one, not to have a resumption of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula, and two, not to undertake operations that put your own collection platforms at risk. Doing peripheral reconnaissance. We've gone through transition from Kim Il-sung to his son, who was pretty erratic but nonetheless ruled for a long time. On China, it had opened the door. Following Kissinger, Ford went out for a visit, but it didn't really advance relationships. It essentially was viewed as helping widen the gap between China and the Soviet Union. They had their own problems, clashes along the Amur River, clashes et al, so from the point of having them visibly totally separate entities that were not collaborating, cooperating in the outside world, it was successful. But I think frankly that happened on its own weight and not from anything we accomplished.

ZIERLER: You mentioned some perfidies of the intelligence community. Were you following developments in Chile in the early 1970s?

INMAN: I was not at all. It was not until the hearings popped up. I knew that there was great concern that the candidate for president was deeply influenced by the communists. No solid evidence that he was a Community Party member, but his closest friends were. He was clearly influenced by them. Then from a distance watching the chief of staff of the Army fleeing to Argentina, where he's later assassinated, and then in going to elect to arrest the president, still not totally clear to me, did he commit suicide or was he killed by the forces? They always insisted that he had committed suicide, and no hard evidence ever surfaced to his actual execution. Nonetheless, that launched Chile for a great many years into the right-wing reign of Pinochet.

Now later, much later, evidence surfaces that the U.S. knew there was going to be a coup effort. Didn't organize it but certainly didn't discourage it. And you get on to reach the assassination of Chilean exiles, showing how far Pinochet was prepared to reach to get rid of any potential opposition to his total control of Chile. That action, I'm very comfortable, was not aided with anyone in the U.S., but the evidence that surfaced—I can't remember her name, the lobbyist, who was involved in encouraging the U.S. to encourage the Chilean military to overthrow this newly elected president. That's about all I knew on that point.

ZIERLER: When Kissinger raised the DEFCON alert status during the Yom Kippur War, what did that mean for you, and in retrospect, did you see that as a preservation or a violation of détente?

INMAN: The concern was of Soviet maneuvering, and there were some disturbing reports that indicated escalation of military status inside the Soviet Union, and perhaps moving toward intervention. Therefore, this elevated the DEFCON level. It wasn't with an intent to go use—it was sending a signal. Kissinger was great at sending signals. My favorite one—there were intercepts that raised the prospect of the use of Syrian military into Lebanon, change the situation. Great fluttering around about what to do with it. Kissinger simply went public, saying "Syria is preparing to intervene in Lebanon." Assad promptly denied it, put to rest the effort that was underway to go do it. So he was maybe sometimes cavalier from the intelligence community view about protecting sources and methods, but he was very efficient at sending signals to shape and change the direction of activities. He clearly operated with a strategic mindset not often observed from secretaries of State, and clearly in his first four years as national security advisor, doing all kinds of missions, like the negotiation with Zhou Enlai that he carried with him on to be secretary of State. Then as you know, he remained as national security advisor as well as secretary of State, and then Ford separated the two jobs and moved Scowcroft up to be the national security advisor. Kissinger's access was not as close as it was with Nixon, but it still remained. He outshone the other players to the substantial frustration of the new secretary of Defense named Don Rumsfeld.

ZIERLER: To foreshadow to September 1974 when you are named director of Naval Intelligence, to give a sense of just how much of a promotion this was, what were your responsibilities as executive assistant to the Navy's vice chief?

INMAN: First, managing the flow of paper from the Department to the vice chief, on its way to the CNO, secretary of the Navy. Tracking and monitoring what was going on by the CNO in his interaction as a member of the Joint Chiefs, planning. Every day, tracking the Navy Department writ large—tracking the Navy Department's interaction with Congress. How had we performed? In the Congress constituent services and testimony on the Hill and markups, authorization, appropriation process. There was a lot of things to track on a daily basis.

Three very different vice chiefs. There were three months with Admiral Cousins. He was so comfortable in the office. He still wanted time protected to go play squash every afternoon. The only thing that would interfere with that would be a session of the Joint Chiefs, when the CNO is out of town and he would have to go and fill in. Another one of the colorful sidelight stories—his squash game had been interrupted. He had gone down to a session with JCS that he thought was unnecessary. Nonetheless, came back up very frustrated that he lost his chance to go play squash that afternoon, and he said he was reminded of the story of the elderly lady, a series of illnesses, and she had decided that the problem was gynecological, so she had gone to see a doctor, and he had put her in the stirrups and made an examination. When he finished, she said, "Young man, does your mother know what you do for a living?" He said he felt the same way about going to meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Working hours—get there at 5:00 am, but get out at 6:00 pm, thereabouts. Admiral Wiesner moved up. Get there at 5:00 and get out somewhere between 8:00 and 10:00 in the evening. He would do meetings all day long, and then do paperwork from 6:00 to 10:00, have you rewrite things he didn't like. Admiral Holloway arrived, and again, different personality. All three were different. He had just come from being the Seventh Fleet commander. Neither of the other two had been interested in that, but he wanted in his schedule clearly time that he could sit and write, for the Naval Institute, for various things, and he was good at it.

When I was in the vice chief's office, with Admiral Weisner, they set out to reorganize the Naval Reserve forces. They had all belonged to the Naval districts, and the decision was to pull them together in a much larger organization, where it is under the auspices of a director of Naval Reserve. I saw an opportunity. Because I had been frustrated when I was at Pac Fleet and needed additional manpower that I couldn't muster to try to pull in reservists to help cover North Korea, things that we were not covering in detail. I proposed to Admiral Weisner that we direct in the reorganization the creation of Naval intelligence reserve command, bringing together all of the intelligence reserves. A lot of resistance, but Admiral Weisner directed that it occurred, and it did.

That was the beginning of—it did awfully well for a lot of years. It's not doing that well now. But it brought a whole new focus instead of just going to training sessions. President Ford expressed his disdain for the Reserves because he had a brother who went to lectures and got paid for doing it. We set out to reorient that Naval Intelligence Reservists would be assigned to operating commands at multiple levels, to supplement the active-duty staff but also to give them realistic training in what was really going on, not dry stuff. That meant getting facilities to handle classified materials. The satellite photography was held in tight compartments, and my view was that how you collected it determined the compartment, but not the product. It should be still classified, but at least down to the secret level, potentially confidential. Successfully broke open that door, and then got facilities created, work at the secret level, all across the facilities of the Naval intelligence reserve. They became prime factors for doing targeting materials, for any place in the world where you might have to have a contingency. Again, it's a long-term impact that at least for a long period of time enhanced the ability of Naval intelligence to serve its users.

ZIERLER: For you, this meant you skipped at least one or two rungs on the ladder, traditionally speaking?

INMAN: Correct. I skipped two rungs. That caused some—it was clear that Sumner Shapiro, Naval Academy class of 1948, Atlantic fleet intelligence officer, was sort of next in line, when there was an opportunity for first star. Instead, they reached past Shap to select me. One of my hardest calls was to call Shap and to convince him not to retire, and that in turn I was persuaded the next time there was a slot—and I would try to create a slot—he would get selected, and that did occur. But I went to be DNI. Mac Showers and Don Harvey should have been selected as DNI. Showers had been a JG on Nimitz's staff, and he was nearing retirement. He had been through several jobs. Harvey had had one job at DIA and then had moved. He was just fairly recently at an intelligence community staff job. He was a very close personal friend. Admiral Holloway, the CNO supported it, and was my successor when I then got promoted and went to be the vice director of DIA in July of 1976.

We dealt earlier with management style. I can't remember talking about the briefcases being packed and sent to the quarters when I went out to whatever attaché event was going. I was ready at 4:00 in the morning. They'd come pick up the briefcases, two or three, at 6:00, and when I went to the office at 7:00, people were already at work. What's wrong with that process? People stop making decisions. It was easier to put something in the briefcase than to make a decision on the spot. It forced me to [consider], how do you delegate, and how do you track delegation? That shows up in the subsequent assignments and in the years in the private sector later. It was a painful lesson. I could do things faster and move decisions along faster, but speed isn't always the best thing for organizations and structures, as opposed to balance, careful consideration.

ZIERLER: Last question for today—when the opportunity to become DNI presents itself, what is that process like? Is there a confirmation process? How does that work?

INMAN: For one- and two-stars, the service nominates, and the secretary of Defense approves. JCS doesn't have a role in that. That's the extent of it. It simply flows over to Congress along with all the other promotions that are going. It's when you go to three-star and four-star that you then actually go to confirmation hearings. So it was purely a Navy Department matter. Actually, it's the signature of the secretary of the Navy, not secretary of Defense, that approves the one- and two-star assignments; I misspoke on that. John Warner had become secretary of the Navy, had been undersecretary. I got well acquainted with him as the EA to the vice chief, because if Admiral Cousins or Admiral Weisner was gone, he'd deal directly with me. Then when he got appointed to be secretary of the Navy, and his EA, Carl Trost, was selected, he decided he wanted me as his military assistant. Admiral Weisner said no and held his ground successfully, so I stayed as EA to the vice chief rather than going to the secretary of the Navy.

It's hard to overemphasize the exposure to how the organizations work from serving as military assistant to the secretary and undersecretary, executive assistant to the CNO, and vice chief. Those four interact on so many policy, procurement, operational issues. Your exposure is far more than you would get at any other job. Decisions on who to promote to three-star, and a four-star were done by the CNO, the vice chief, and the chief of Naval personnel, and I served as the corporate secretary for all of it. Going out and soliciting the views of all three- and four-stars, who should be considered; I'd keep those files, keep the ranking and discussions of assignments. Then move paperwork through for their nomination to the Joint Chiefs and to sec def and over to the White House for presidential approval. What that gave me was an in-depth understanding of the unrestricted line. Who were those who were moving, who were clearly headed toward three-star, potentially four-star assignments? So when I got to be director of Naval Intelligence and went through my process of sorting out Naval Intelligence Talent, I would send along with the fast movers a very high-performing Navy intelligence officer. They were frequently the best performers on the staff, and it significantly enhanced the reputation of the Naval intelligence specialist for competence. But that came not from casual work; it came from carefully looking—who had a ten-year performance record—and taking those who had, in all the different assignments, putting them with flag officers who were on their way toward promotions as well.

ZIERLER: That's a perfect place. We'll pick up for next time when you actually become DNI.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, November 22nd, 2021. Once again, it is my great pleasure to be with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, as always, it is a great pleasure to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, David.

ZIERLER: Today, we're going to start on day one, when you are director of Naval Intelligence. We talked last time about the rungs of the ladder that you skipped in order to receive this promotion. Just from your personal perspective, what aspects of the promotion felt like a quantum leap, and what felt like the next logical progression in your career at that point?

INMAN: The quantum leap was that the largest group I had personally managed was the intelligence staff and the supporting staff onboard Seventh Fleet. I don't remember the exact numbers, but somewhere between 120 and 140 people. Suddenly, on 16 September 1974, I had 3,600 people working for me, in six separate orgs that reported to me, along with the small direct personal staff. It was on-the-job training to learn to manage that large an organization. I launched pretty quickly into visiting each, having people come and brief, trying to understand in detail the organizations, what they did, how well they did in their own view, and what others thought about how they did.

There wasn't a lot of leisure time, since there was so much involved in it. I discovered very quickly the outside demands on my time. There were 159 foreign attachés accredited to the Navy Department—attachés, assistant attachés, et al. I was the scoutmaster for all of them. Had a small protocol staff who dealt with it. My predecessor had loved that engagement, spent an enormous amount of time with them, would take buses of them to football games, all kinds of things like that. Our boys were still quite young—Tom had been born in 1962, Bill in 1966—so I was quick to tell the attaché corps that we were parents of youngsters, and therefore it would be exceedingly rare when we accepted any invitations on the weekend, but we would try to, during the weekdays, attend as many of the national days, Armed Forces Days, and all those we would crowd into the agenda, and we would continue the practice of farewell dinners for departing attachés, but we would probably combine them. Instead of doing individual ones for each principal, we'd probably combine two or three at the same time. Well, that was a modest problem. On the other side of it, it turned out that some of the attachés also had younger children, particularly the Canadian and the New Zealand, and they became ultimately close friends through all the years long after we had gone on and retired from the jobs. Marshall Bronson and his wife ran the Protocol Office, and they did it superbly.

One of the annual events was a reception for the entire attaché corps to introduce them to the secretary of the Navy and the chief of Naval operations. Those were usually held in the diplomatic facility of the State Department. All of that we dutifully discharged. I was about two months into the job when Seymour Hersh began publishing a series of articles in The New York Times alleging some real, some not real, perfidies by the intelligence community writ large over the previous 25 years. There was a pretty fast scramble on Capitol Hill, not wanting to miss an opportunity. Select committees were formed in both the Senate and the House, Senator Frank Church of Idaho to chair the Senate committee; Congressman Otis Pike of New York to chair the House committee. Democrats at that point were in the majority of both houses of Congress. I have already detailed in some of our earlier sessions my long interactions with Congress. But just in filling the schedule, as staffs were appointed, and particularly when they looked at something related to the Navy, I would meet the staffs. We'd read the files that they read. We'd have a session to discuss what we found in the files. There were no disagreements on facts. There were disagreements on what it meant. But that laid the groundwork for my ultimately testifying before both committees. We've already gone through how that came to President Ford's attention in a positive way.

As part of the routine functioning of the office, there were meetings of the National Foreign Intelligence Board, chaired by the director of Central Intelligence, and with the principals being the director of NSA, the director—I guess this is before the National Geospatial Agency was ever created. So NSA, Department of State, the director of DIA. Then the four military intelligence officers were granted seats, and were sometimes included, sometimes not. Admiral Stansfield Turner had been a classmate of President Carter's. He would later come to be the director of Central Intelligence. I was so very fortunate that President Ford had appointed George H.W. Bush. As I indicated earlier, a great relationship developed out of it. He was the youngest Naval aviator in World War II, still had great memories of it. That opened the door for a lot of the dialogue and discussion on issues. I'm trying to pull up 1974, what's going on in the world.

ZIERLER: When you're named to this position, is there a new category of intelligence? Are there programs that you're read into that were not previously accessible to you?

INMAN: We have to deal with this part carefully. I had a second hat, along with being director of Naval Intelligence, of being director of the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office. Even its existence was classified. In recent years, when I talked about it, I got a pretty hot letter telling me I was not permitted to talk in detail, since they were all still classified. But in essence, it acquired the technology for undersea reconnaissance, ranging from conducting imagery of the ocean floors looking for anything which might be desirable from an intelligence point of view. Before my time, it had been engaged in the efforts to pick up a submarine off the ocean floor with the Glomar Explorer. By the time I took over, it was primarily designed to [track] the hardware to be used in modern collection activities. The actual missions were conducted by the services, by the U.S. Navy, by the Submarine Force, by the National Security Agency. I had already been exposed to the Glomar Explorer program when I was in Hawaii as the assistant chief of staff for Intelligence. We were providing early warning while the Glomar mission was underway, of whether it might be detected, interfered with by the Soviets. All of the security had been effectively maintained, but as we were getting regular reports, we learned that they got the submarine hoisted to about 120 feet from the surface and then some of the tines on the collecting lifting equipment broke and it fell back into—two-thirds of it fell back into the ocean. Those were the two-thirds we had been most interested in. I had earlier as an analyst been cleared for the U2 collection missions, and as we went to satellites, to the satellite imagery. As I'm running through these, I don't think there was anything that I was exposed to for the first time.

ZIERLER: Were you directing all aspects of Naval intelligence for the Navy, or are there other offices that were not under your wing?

INMAN: All Naval intelligence was under my wing. At that point, the Navy Criminal Investigative Service was also under my auspices. It was later moved out from under the DNI to the Secretary of the Navy. That was after—with my successor. I've already talked to you earlier about the budgeting process and Betty Swift, and the role that I played there. We've talked earlier sessions about the CNO giving me—the vice chief—giving me authority over recruiting, assignment of Naval intelligence specialists. Then an oversight over sub-specialists, people who had gone to intelligence school but remained aviator, surface, or submariner. All of those took time, required attention, but they also had good payoff. Earlier I thought of something related here—my standard effort to be funny, which is rare—what the Underwater Reconnaissance Office did was to immerse me in all the details and challenges of managing very high technology programs. I loved to say, "All my mistakes remain classified."

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: By the time I got to DIA and NSA, I already had pretty broad experience at managing high-technology acquisition, which for a history major was a substantial adventure. But the point triggered by this in recollection—when John Warner moved up to be the secretary of the Navy, David Potter, who had been the CFO of General Motors, came to be the undersecretary of the Navy. He was delegated oversight for the intelligence activities of the Navy Department, so while I reported to the chief of Naval operations, I also had a dotted line to the undersecretary of the Navy. He expected me to regularly report what was going on. I would have appointments with him—it started out once a month. It eventually got sometimes to once a week.

Because of the ongoing Church and Pike committees, other committees of Congress who had some jurisdiction didn't want to get left out. The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and a Subcommittee on Defense and Intelligence—Mr. Mahon— a gentleman from West Texas—decided to hold classified hearings. He had created a House Appropriations Committee investigating team. These were FBI officers assigned to the committee to do investigations. Sure enough, they popped up. Chairman Mahon wanted to be briefed in detail on all classified Naval submarine reconnaissance missions. That, as it evolved, included a lot of things being done under the NURO hat as well. A lot of concern in the Defense Department about this. Nonetheless, Secretary Potter and Rear Admiral Inman showed up, House Appropriations Committee, and for the first time ever, briefed the Congress in substantial detail on submarine reconnaissance missions. There was never a leak of any of it. But that was the first time that Congress was ever informed, as a committee, in detail, on the intelligence collection missions undertaken by the U.S. Submarine Force.

We came back from that, and Secretary Potter said he wanted to have a thorough briefing on how we went about auditing the expenditure of funds. I dutifully showed up, a couple or three weeks later, after doing my homework, and started through all the auditing. Then there were gray areas [laughs] of which Secretary Potter promptly informed me there would be no gray areas; everything would be audited. Create black programs, and he would clear auditors in the Naval Audit Service who could audit those programs. The Naval Audit Service routinely did everything else. I went back under the instructions and created the structure of creating black programs, and wrapping them in intelligence and security process, but also earmarking that all their expenditure of funds would be audited by the cleared auditors. It was a useful process.

What I had not anticipated—these were the first in the entire Department of Defense, and as time would go on, I would get called by the other services and they would tell, "The Navy has these." Explained to them how you go about doing it, how the auditing is done. Fast forward, I do my year at DIA, I get to NSA, and I've been there about three months, four months, when I got a call from the undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering, Bill Perry. He wanted to know if I could come down and spend some time on a Saturday morning to lend some advice. I dutifully showed up. What he wanted to expose me to, and then get advice on—the creation of stealth technology in the building of aircraft. The Air Force briefers told us where they were, what they were doing, and then what Bill Perry had to do was to tell them how they should go about creating security around that program, make it a black program, but also to include in that process cleared auditors so that every dollar spent would be audited. That created some friendships that exist to this day. Retired Air Force General Joe Ralston, earlier, he had been the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He was a major lieutenant colonel on that session, and he went off and created the black programs for the Air Force that covered stealth technology.

Now, what's the purpose of the black program? You're not going to maintain security in perpetuity. But it was to give you a lead against adversaries, obviously at that point primarily the Soviet Union, so that you could get pretty far down the path of developing that technology and the weapons systems before it was detected, and they would set out to replicate it on their own. Later years, looking back, the only mistake from that—we didn't also devise how do you take them out of the black program, when they've reached a stage when there is no longer a need or where technology is advancing? Therefore, it was often pretty messy in coming out. In retrospect, if we had developed a clear path of how you exit, it would have been smoother, but we didn't, and they stumbled their way through it over the subsequent years.

It led me to get involved in efforts relating to deception. Everybody was always enthused. Could you go develop deception programs that would confuse our adversaries, lead them off track? I discovered pretty early that the problem with that was you'd end up deceiving yourselves. When you set out to implement a deception program, that usually meant you were doing things overseas which would end up getting leaked and presented in the press, and come back, and you realized that what you'd touched off was now being reported as fact through the media or through intelligence collection from allies. So I pretty early on decided that that was not something we were good at. The British were great at it—the histories of World War II, all of the efforts to deceive the Germans of where the landings were going to be, et al. The only really successful Navy program in deception done in conjunction with the other services—we were eager to protect the advances we were making in line-of-sight communications, so we decided one of the ways to do that was to confuse the Soviets of where we were. We set up a two-aircraft flying mission, chatting back and forth. Then one of them says, "Okay, now let's go to zero"—code word for a new system. Total silence. Twenty minutes later, come back up—"Boy, wasn't that terrific? How good, how reliable." Soviets went crazy trying to find it. It came up in the human collection activities in Washington, everywhere else, trying to find out what this new secure communication system was. That's about the only example from my long career of involvement in a successful deception program.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Castro clearly had known every detail of the planned Bay of Pigs invasion. I will go to my grave persuaded that he equally was knowledgeable of the efforts to assassinate. I therefore look at the efforts of the ultimate assassin who I believe did operate on his own—time spent in Cuba, trip to Mexico City to the Cuban embassy in the months before he assassinated President Kennedy. I will always bear the suspicion that he was targeted to do that in repayment for the efforts to assassinate Castro. In the last stages of the Warren Commission investigation, I know from the chief justice's son that Justice Warren sent a letter to the attorney general saying, "Is there any potentially relevant information that has not been shared with the Commission?" Bobby Kennedy wrote back saying, "The commission has been given all potentially relevant information." They had never been given any info on the effort to assassinate Fidel Castro. So, whether Lee Harvey Oswald operated entirely on his own, or whether he was inspired to do so for Castro will be one of those now lost to history, since I don't think anybody else left is alive. But what triggered my persuasion on this issue—Oswald is killed in the basement of the police station by Jack Ruby. Jack Ruby was a mafia asset, and I believe that was undertaken to make sure that as the inquiries led, they did not lead to the effort that the mafia had undertaken at Bobby Kennedy's request to assassinate Castro, so get rid of any potential witness to tie back to that. Okay, that's speculation, not hard fact. Now, let's come back to 1974 to 1976.

ZIERLER: To give a sense of your overall place within the intelligence community and the policymaking community, let's engage in a possibility. Let's say there is some explosive intelligence information that comes across your desk, for which you feel this needs to go ultimately to the Oval Office. Who are the people or organizations that would get that information to your desk? Who are your peers in the overall IC? And what then is the chain of command from your level leading all the way up to the president?

INMAN: At the period of time are we at right now?

ZIERLER: In 1974, when you're director of Naval Intelligence.

INMAN: At that point, anything would have come from operating Naval forces, an encounter somewhere, and my role was to inform the CNO, inform the secretary of the Navy, and not unusually, to be told to brief the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who was the former CNO, Admiral Tom Moorer. I can't recall from that level something that needed to go all the way to the Oval Office. Later, when I get into my job at NSA, it's a very different story, and there were numerous occasions of getting things directly to the secretary of State, secretary of Defense, chairman of Joint Chiefs, to the president, to the director of Central Intelligence. But that's a later time; it's not 1974.

ZIERLER: Were you aware of Golda Meir's so-called Samson Option threat whereby she floated the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Egyptians and Syrians?

INMAN: I was not. I think you will have already seen—if the top elements of the U.S. government were not sharing with us what the Israelis were telling them, it's not surprising that we also didn't hear about the Samson. I guess the point to make for you is that a service intelligence chief is frequently not party to what's being exchanged at the top of government, with other countries and within the compartmented information. In 1975, that's when the evacuation from the rooftops in Saigon occurred. There were a lot of interesting activities going on the intelligence world related to Soviet Navy and collection against Soviets. Sadly, they are all still classified, and I don't have unilateral authority to go break them. There is a book called Blind Man's Bluff done by Chris Drew and a couple of others, where a lot of people talk too much about what they knew, eager to tell their stories of trailing Soviet submarines and collecting intelligence from the ocean's bottom, et cetera, which the details of many of them are still classified. The point being, even after they were revealed, there potentially were and may still well be other cases where using those collection techniques would be of real value for the U.S., and you don't want to alert countries that they are vulnerable. I got a phone call this morning wanting me to do a podcast talking about Crypto AG. I declined, because everything I know about it is still classified. We are now roaming into I guess 1976.

ZIERLER: Before we get there, a political question. When Nixon resigned in August of 1974, to what extent was that a huge sigh of relief for the military services across the board?

ZIERLER: When the Americans evacuated Saigon, what aspects of this tragedy were localized for you, meaning this was just the conclusion of a failed war in Southeast Asia, and what aspects of this chapter in history reverberated globally, about the larger story of the United States, the American Century, and the Cold War?

INMAN: Let's go back. We signed an agreement and left, and left the South Vietnamese government, and then Congress cut off the funds to it. That pushed them over the edge. For outside observers, other countries, friends and foes, the vulnerability in the U.S. role, if Congress did not appropriate the funds necessary to sustain the activity, was obvious to everybody—the nature of the American system, separation of powers. The commander in chief commands all the forces. Congress has the authority to declare war. But the Congress [also] has the power of appropriations, and there is very little you can do militarily, diplomatically, without money. When Congress shuts the valves, your activities are at that point empty promises, empty words.

I think as we look forward to detailed examination long past my time, of Iraq, Afghanistan, you'll see repercussions. You'll also see lessons we didn't learn. Trying to build a Vietnamese army in our model to go confront an army, didn't work in an insurgency, and also didn't work once there was a North Vietnamese army there to confront up in I Corps. The will to fight. You can find pockets, when we go to Iraq, the Iraqi Kurds, who have demonstrated the will to fight. We built an Iraqi army patterned on our army, which pretty much collapsed under ISIS. We set out in Afghanistan to build not only a central government but a military, patterned on our own, and we have witnessed the speed with which that collapsed. You don't tie all of that back to our leaving Vietnam, but the fact that we didn't learn the most important lessons out of Vietnam—the need for a government that can govern. The need, if you're trying to turn over, forces that have the capacity and the will to fight. Not having learned those lessons, we end up repeating them in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Inman's narrow view.

ZIERLER: Were you involved at all in May 1975 in the Mayaguez incident with the Cambodians?

INMAN: Yes. We were peripherally involved, from the issue of getting usable intelligence to the people on the ground. There was substantial classified information, some from where we had imagery, some from intercepts. That flowed out to the operational levels, but the people going ashore didn't have any classified access, and they didn't get briefed on details that they should have had. This is the issue: how do you declassify, on the fly, information that can make the difference of what forces do, when they're engaged? There were some casualties in that operation that could have been avoided, but it was not an incident with long-term lingering effects, except that it did lead to some earnest discussions about how you declassify and get information into the hands of people on the ground who had to fight, if you got information that's potentially relevant.

ZIERLER: Do you see this as separate from the fall of Vietnam, or is this connected?

INMAN: Separate. But it's symptomatic of, I guess, that whole part of the world, that stage of the game, and the recognizing that piracy is endemic. We tend to focus these days on piracy in the Red Sea and off the Somali coast, but it has long been a reality in the Straits of Malacca. It gets very little publicity, but vulnerable cargo which can offer some quick rewards, that occurs. I can't quite pull out the details—Was Mayaguez captured and taken to the Cambodian port? How did it end up—? I think that's what happened. I'm sorry, It's not one I've pursued in later years to remember the details on.

ZIERLER: Did the Vietnam War have a dampening effect on Washington's interest or ability in countering the Khmer Rouge?

INMAN: I think almost certainly the answer is yes. Get out of the war; don't go get in the new one. Of human rights disasters, not many match what Pol Pot and his merry band did. We talked about this in one of the earlier sessions. It was after our visit there, when the prime minister declined an offer to airlift him out of the country, saying his only regret was that he had put faith in the United States. On the other hand, we heard so much in that timeframe of the worry about dominoes, and that if Vietnam fell, then Malaysia, Thailand, all would get swept up in the process. Didn't happen! But you go back and look at that period, as you have, and certainly the justification for the active role was to some substantial degree to avoid the dominoes falling. We had already committed to neutralize Laos. Now we lose the rest of it; what's going to happen to the rest of Southeast Asia? Instead, they formed an economic union and became pretty prosperous, for a long time.

ZIERLER: What about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and the crisis in NATO that that caused? Were you involved? Were you following those developments in the eastern Mediterranean?

INMAN: Do you remember the actual dates of that invasion?

ZIERLER: That was in July of 1974.

INMAN: I'm still in Hawaii. That's why I don't have any direct recollection or knowledge of what transpired then. I'm sure the Navy was following it with substantial interest, because of worry about a direct collision between Greece and Turkey, and what that was going to do to NATO. Cyprus had been an ongoing challenge. When I was on the destroyer Mullinix, in 1960, and we went for a seven-month deployment in the Mediterranean, we didn't do a port call at Nicosia, but there was already significant conflict between the part of the island that was Turkish-dominated and the part that was Greek. It's something we see repeated all over the globe, when you have strong tribal or ethnic divisions and ties, and they don't want to work with one another, and they ultimately want their own separate form of government, you end up with clashes, outbreaks. What can you do about it? It's something you don't want to go use military force, take sides one side or the other. What's your ability with diplomacy?

Repeatedly, our inability to move Turkey—the last one where I can remember a lot of collaboration was the creation of CENTO, and then that collapsed with the coup in Iraq in 1958. It was a big deal to get Turkey into NATO. It gave you an anchor into the Middle East. But it brought with it some significant challenges that we continue to see to this day. It is a Muslim country where all the other members are non-Muslim. We've had periods when we've had really good working relationships with Turkey, but then particularly since Erdoğan came to power, it has steadily gone downhill. Back in my day, we had good relationships with them. I guess my prime encounter was with the Turkish attachés who were [working with the] Navy department. One of our prizes that used to hang in the garage was what looks like a hubcap, which had an image of my face engraved on it, which was a gift from the Turkish attaché. Mementos.

ZIERLER: Between Angola and Latin America, Southeast Asia, during your time directing Naval Intelligence, did you see Soviet interventionism, Soviet adventurism, as on the march?

INMAN: Yes. When did the Portuguese leave Angola?

ZIERLER: 1975.

INMAN: We were taken by total surprise, but the Soviets weren't. They had totally infiltrated the Portuguese government, knew exactly what their plans were, when they were going to do it. They sent merchant ships loaded with military hardware from the Northern Fleet down into the South Atlantic. No one following, no one paying any attention at all. Some of that clearly you can fault Naval Intelligence, because they weren't following merchant fleets, following navies. Then they flew 15,000 Cuban troops into Angola and married them up with all the military hardware. In a week, they're there, established, as the principal military force in Angola, supporting the Soviets' preferred candidate to run the country.

Fast forward, Ethiopia, Haile Selassie had been overthrown. The regime increasingly turned toward the Soviets, appealed for help. They didn't send in Soviet troops; they sent in 1,000 troops from Cuba. There was a period there in the middle 1970s when the Cubans were being the Gurkhas for the Soviet empire. It wasn't until 1979 that we saw the Soviets actually use their own forces to go. That was to sustain the communist government, which had come to power through a coup in Afghanistan in April of 1978. We're now getting ahead of the period we're in right now, but there was a constant worry about expansion of the Soviet Union. We were by that point less concerned about a dash through the Fulda Gap to try to go capture Western Europe, but it was looking, where were they going to add? Cuba had come as a shock, and were there going to be others that did the same?

What you were watching in the Soviet Union—Brezhnev stayed for a very long time. It was not a time of a lot of new activities. Khrushchev had been retired to non-person status in 1964. I'm way off here. Brezhnev ruled from 1964 to 1981, I believe. We're talking about the middle of his reign in what we're talking about now. We had entered into arms control agreements. SALT I was in place. SALT II had been negotiated but not ratified. Then you get the invasion of Afghanistan, and that arms control activity came to an abrupt halt, until you get into Reagan and lots of colorful stories that follow there.

ZIERLER: I wonder if you saw irony in the fact that détente during the Nixon years reduced the likelihood of nuclear war, but it increased the likelihood that the Soviets would be more bold in the developing world?

INMAN: There is a shift. Stalin had a dual track—extend active control with communist countries in your periphery, and then use the Comintern, controlling local communist parties, to shift activity in the rest of the world to support Soviet objectives, et cetera. The Angola episode was clearly an escalation, but carefully done using Cuban forces, not Soviet forces, to actually be troops on the ground. It worked. We then got involved with the South Africans in an effort to get a covert action program to try to overthrow the government in Angola. Lots of money and effort went into it—money from us, effort from the South Africans, which ran on for a very long time, and ended up not dislodging dos Santos. I can't pull out my memory when oil was discovered in Angola and when it began to be produced in substantial quantities, but that changed the situation on the ground. It provided the resources not only to keep dos Santos in power but ultimately to expand his reach and influence, and corruption along with it. What's happening? Yom Kippur is behind us. Ah! No, we're not yet to Sadat, to Jerusalem.

ZIERLER: No.

INMAN: That's 1978, I think, and things began to change. You had had the coup in Iraq in July of 1958. Then you had another coup in 1968, which brought the group of which Saddam Hussein was a player to power. Is this when we're now in the Iranian-Iraq war?

ZIERLER: That starts in 1980.

INMAN: Yeah, and ran for quite a long while, and the U.S. decides to help the Iraqis.

ZIERLER: Of course, in your personal life, you're registered as an independent. With the election of 1976 and Ford versus Carter, what did you see in terms of your own career at that point, depending on who won?

INMAN: We need to go back at this point. We've concluded the Church and Pike Committees. Schlesinger is fired by President Ford, and Don Rumsfeld arrives in the Pentagon and on his first day fires the director and the vice director of DIA. The Army general who was the director, Danny Graham, goes out to become a critic of President Ford, endorsing Carter. The vice director, Gene Tighe, reverted to two-star and went out to be the director of intelligence for Strategic Air Command. The great flap was, "Who's going to replace them?" Sam Wilson, colorful Army lieutenant general, who had gone in as a private in World War II and had been part of Merrill's Marauders out in South Asia, China. He had later been the Army attaché and Defense attaché in Moscow, and was also chief of station for CIA, the only time that was ever combined, at least to my knowledge. Sam was back on the OSD staff, so he was the choice to be the director.

The flap was what about the vice director. Ellsworth had become the second deputy secretary of—there were two deputy secretaries of Defense. They had created the second job for Bob Ellsworth, leaving the Congress, but Clements was the senior deputy. This is all part of what Rumsfeld put in place. Ellsworth, chatting with his good friend, the president, promoted Rear Admiral Inman to be the vice director. Clements objected largely because his Naval aide, submariner, two-star—"Who's this one star about to be jumped to three?" There was a struggle in the Pentagon, the White House, for about a week. One of the proposals was to send me, but to send me just as my current rank, where I would have been outranked by several other people who were already in DIA. Ellsworth dialogued with the president. Rumsfeld accepted, went along. Clements quieted down. My nomination went forward to the vice director of DIA. Congressional hearing, select committee, took about a half an hour, nomination sailed through. It had to be done by both the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee, new structure, but it happened swiftly, and so on the 20th of July, I went down to be the vice director of DIA.

Sam Wilson liked to travel, so I ended up frequently interacting with the briefing sessions for the secretary of Defense and interacting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. At this point, the Chairman is General George Brown, Air Force. He had been replaced as chief of staff of the Air Force by Davy Jones, who would later replace Brown as chairman. It followed a pattern there for a while, to the Navy's and Army's unhappiness. Come November, Ford lost the election. From the critics, there was a fair amount of glee. Left out there twisting. Very little interaction with that presidential transition. I would have heavy impact, Carter to Reagan, but Ford to Carter, almost none. But the new team came in. Harold Brown was an incredible—truly a Renaissance man. Could be very impatient, if he was being bored, or things he already knew, but he absorbed quickly what was going on. Things calmed down, and we weren't worried about political arrows flying. You never knew when Rumsfeld was going to go off.

ZIERLER: [laughs] In your interactions with Brown, did you ever talk to him about Caltech? Did that ever plant a seed for you?

INMAN: No, we never did. But in the Spring of 1977, the chiefs meet to do the horse blanket, that is, all of the three-star and four-star assignments for the upcoming year, across the Department of Defense, its agencies, and so on. Admiral Holloway stepped out of the tank to give me a call, said, "Something very strange is going on. George Brown and Davy Jones are pushing very hard for you to be the director of NSA." It took me all of five seconds to say, "They want to bring Gene Tighe back from SAC, to be the director of DIA." He said, "Yeah, I think that is the name." He said, "Grab it. NSA is an infinitely better job, and one where you can do so much more for the service." So he went back in—

ZIERLER: I wonder if you can explain that. Why is it a better job, and how is that related to the fact that you can do more?

INMAN: The combination of budget, scale of the enterprise, collection activities. You're out interacting all over the globe where the Navy is deployed. Director of DIA is not. NSA is a global operation. DIA is a Pentagon operation. It does control the military attachés, assigned to the embassies around the world. That's the extent of their reach beyond Washington. They don't have a specific assigned role with the unified and specific commands. They provide intelligence analysis that goes out to all those. NSA interacts with all those UNS commanders on a daily basis and has senior people assigned as [partners to] each of the UNS commanders to work. So scale, impact, it's totally different orbits.

The confirmation hearings were easy, again. It's still Senator Moynihan and Senator Goldwater at the select committee. Anyway, it was easy, quick ratification. I detached as the vice director of DIA on the morning of 5 July 1977 and reported to Fort Meade and spent the day with General Lew Allen, who was getting his fourth star to be head of the Air Force Materiel Command and a year later to be chief of staff of the Air Force. He had worked for Harold Brown at Livermore, many, many years earlier.

ZIERLER: The Caltech-JPL connections are building. [laughs]

I already had relationships with the select committees from my earlier time. Senator Inouye had elected to only do one term, two years, as the chairman. Birch Bayh from Indiana was selected after the midterms in 1978 to become the chairman. My peers gave me the chore of telling Bayh that everybody was worried about him. He was a little too close to the media, chatter. I invited him to breakfast at the NSA, and then in the breakfast, just the two of us, I was just very direct with him about the worries. He took it very well and said, "Never hesitate to tell me if you see a problem coming." End result, we had a very good dialogue for those two years. Goldwater is still the vice chairman.

Let me back up to 1976. Senate decided—I don't think I've told you this point before—to create a permanent select committee on intelligence. The House followed months later. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii is designated to be its first chairman. After a dialogue with his old friend Bob Ellsworth, he came to meet with a handful of us, and he said, parroting Howard Baker, "What do I have to do to, where you'll come and tell us what's going on?" Not to have to ask what did he know and when did he know it, in the process. I was very direct—"You need to create security that we all believe in and trust, and that what we tell you that's classified will stay that way, and we won't read about it in the newspaper the next day. To the degree possible, never take a vote on party lines."

ZIERLER: That sounds like an ancient maxim. Doesn't sound like it rings true today.

INMAN: "And make sure that you've got at least one vote from the other side, so we can say to our bosses, ‘Look, we're responding to a bipartisan approach.'" Because there were always efforts to slow down or impede our direct conversation with Congress, wanting to control flow of info. Not only did Inouye take it seriously; he went much further than I expected. All the staff—first, instead of ranking member, it was vice chairman, the only committee in Congress where you've got a chairman and a vice chairman, two parties. Secondly, all the staff would belong to the chairman and the vice chairman. They could have a designee to each member, but they didn't belong to them; they belonged to the chairman and vice chairman. And the instructions from Inouye were very explicit—the staffs will have no contact with the media.

We had an incident of a helicopter going into the air space of Czechoslovakia from Austria. Big uproar—"Why are you violating air space" coming out of Brzezinski. Dr. Brown wanted to see the track that we had intercepted of the radar tracking of yes, they have penetrated the air space. But it was right adjacent to the Czech city of Brno, and we're laying it out, and Dr. Brown said, "You know, in 1064, some event occurred there." It was simply another one of the many demonstrations that he was really a Renaissance man. It was an incredibly exciting time.

ZIERLER: In at least the first two years of the Carter presidency, where President Carter really emphasized a break with his predecessors in the areas of, for example, promoting human rights, or deescalating conflict and competition with the Soviets, to what extent did that affect your day-to-day?

INMAN: Not very much. We were reporting what we observed. I had relatively little interaction with the president in the first two years. We found that the Soviets were picking up some of his telephone conversations with allies, so I went down to lay it out and brief him on it. He said, "Admiral, are you telling me it would be more secure if I went out to the pay phone on 17th Street?" I said, "Mr. President, I can't say it would be safer for your person, but it would be safer for the communications, if you would not use—"

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: That led us into a detailed examination of what were the Soviets collecting, and where were they collecting it, and some sad stories. The Pentagon assured me everything was secure. It all went out of the Pentagon landline. It did; to Fort Belvoir, where it went back up in the air, and went right back across Washington on microwave! In the interim, we'd given the Soviets, for their new embassy, the hilltop right across from the Washington Cathedral, the best potential intercept site you could ever ask for, certainly, where in Moscow, they were putting us down in a swamp, practically. It led to major rerouting to reduce the risk, and it led to encrypting channels and making sure we then had secure encrypted voice between the president and the prime minister of Great Britain, eventually added to some other leaders. The relationships with the Brits had been important Navy to Navy, tracking Soviet Navy, DIA to Defense staff, Middle East, other things began.

NSA was a totally different world. The relationship between NSA and the GCHQ went all the way back to World War II, had remained unhampered even during Suez crisis, things like that. Not only were they good at what they did; only with the Brits did you share attacking major encryption systems. It was great value in having a different look at how you went about that. Didn't share everything, because CIA would put a no-foreign label on. They might limit us to only U.S. consumers. I got keying materials sometimes from a friendly country. Pretty exciting traffic. I decided it was just too leak-able, so I did not send it electronically. I routed it by name and by courier to nine individuals—DCI, secretary of State, secretary of Defense, president, a handful of others, national security advisor. Got a call on the secure phone from President Carter, telling me it was pretty exciting material, and if we could get more of it, he'd be very interested in seeing it, but if we did get more, he took four names off the list.

ZIERLER: Oh, wow.

INMAN: He knew who leaked, talked to the media. Relationships are expanding a little bit with him in the White House. Lloyd Cutler, general counsel, had been part of the Bletchley Park during World War II. He was a briefer for the materials to General Marshall, so he understood the importance of cryptologic functions, what you provided. We'll deal later with the whole Desert One activity, but post Desert One, Carter had decided to accelerate diplomatic efforts to get the hostages out of Iran. They were going to send Warren Christopher, the deputy secretary of State, forward to do the negotiations with the Iranians. The question was where to put him. Cutler picked up the secure phone and called me to say what they were considering and in which of those countries was I most likely to have success in acquiring traffic that was relevant back and forth. Said, "Algiers," so that's where Christopher was sent.

We pretty quickly evolved—well, President Carter asked Cutler, "What did you just do? How did you come to that conclusion?" The process began of frequent calls from President Carter saying, "I have just decided the following, and sent the instructions forward to Christopher. Did it get delivered? Did they understand it? Do you know what the response is going to be?" With that clarity of guidance, we were able to answer his questions about 85% of the time. Election is held. He lost. I had long planned a trip to Australia to see my Australian counterpart, immediately after the election, figuring they would either be celebrating or—so when he called me two days afterwards, another instruction, I got up my courage and said, "Mr. President, I'm planning on being on a trip for the next five days, out to Australia and back." "Who do you call, Admiral, when we call you?" "The head of the NSA Operations Center." "Would it be okay if I called the head of the NSA Operations Center while you're traveling?" "Yes." And he did, twice.

He called me mid-morning on the 20th of January to tell me he had just—awarded me the National Security Medal. My last conversation with him as president was when he was in the limo with the president-elect, going down Pennsylvania Avenue, to tell him the hostages were in the aircraft at the end of the runway but would not be permitted to take off until he was no longer president. He thanked me and said would I leave word at Andrews, because he'd like to know when he landed there, before he took off for Georgia, that the hostages were out. So right after 12:00, they're released. Cy Vance was there, and he took the call, and delivered the message. You'll recall he had resigned over opposition to the mission, so you get the track here, of how relationships expanded to meet his needs.

ZIERLER: Did you feel a special camaraderie with President Carter as a fellow Navy man?

INMAN: No. He was not a warm and fuzzy individual. It was all business. Very direct. It has been much better in his post-presidency time.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: He will call the house occasionally, talks to Nancy if I'm not there. It's just social. We have supported the Carter Center financially through the years, which I'm sure has probably helped keep that along the way. He made his trip to Wiesbaden to see the hostages. He got a very cool reception from the hostages.

Let's now go back to pick up in the 1978 timeframe, then the coup in Kabul in April. The communist government came to power. First new communist government since Cuba, and it expanded the periphery. Rejoicing in Moscow. But pretty soon, there was a split in the governing, into two totally separate parties, and they quarreled and then began fighting. We tracked the growing Soviet apprehension. By August, we were observing exercises that looked to us like preparation to go into Afghanistan. By the 22nd of December, could tell the White House had made the decision to go and it would occur within three days. They went in Christmas morning, 1979. The CIA was insisting, oh, they were thinking about it, they really weren't sure they were going to make the move, discounting evidence that didn't come from human sources. About five weeks, six weeks went by. Didn't hear anything, know what the U.S. was doing with regard to the hostages. I'm sorry, I'm confusing two stories.

Let me back up, because it's important to go back. 4 November 1979, this was five weeks before going into Afghanistan, the Iranians seize the U.S. embassy and take 59 hostages, and we didn't hear anything about what was being planned. Then the head of the B group, the one that looked at Middle East, Africa, came knocking on my door, saying, "One of my bright analysts was just about to release this to go out to all the services and agencies." He thought this was a tracking of an aircraft going into what had been an abandoned airfield in southern Egypt. Just the hunch, this was a U.S. aircraft, going in to use that airfield. Could it be related to what was going on in Iran?

I took the message and went down to see the chairman, Davy Jones, and said, "If you don't tell me what you're doing, I don't know what to suppress. And but for a sharp analyst, this would have gone out globally. Why is a foreign aircraft flying into a previously unoccupied Egyptian air base?" That afternoon, Gene Tighe and I were both briefed into the planning for hostage rescue. The DCI, Admiral Turner, was providing all the intelligence support to the mission, so closely held, no need for DIA or NSA to know. Well, we both scrambled for how you can put together support for this operation. In the entire SIGINT [Signals Intelligence] system, I had three—I had 26 Farsi linguists and three who could deal in real-time conversations, chatter. I sent one young Air Force guy out on the carrier and brought the other two to NSA, and I went to a whole variety of different collection platforms used for totally other functions, to relay signals into NSA. The two young analysts, 12 hours on, 12 hours off. What were the local police doing? What everybody else was doing around the area.

We land, and we're told through operational channels that an aircraft has gone down, a helicopter has gone down, and that the mission director decided he can't go forward with the number he has, so they cancel the mission. Then as one is moving, it collides with the tanker, and they have a fire on the scene. Before that happened, our role had primarily been any sign that the Iranians had detected the mission's aircraft had taken off. They had gone in a different direction. But we were providing that in real time, just like our conversation here. Then the news came the mission was scrubbed. Then the task became, "Will you know that the Iranians have discovered the failure before they know in Tehran?" Hopefully, yes. "The president wants to announce the failure before it's announced in Iran."

And we were able to. A bus driver happens onto it, can't believe it, left, came back again, to be sure. He was beginning to communicate with the local police what he had seen. Of course—"Come on. Sounds like fiction. Aliens out in the middle of the desert and all." We were able to relay that and before Tehran knew, even, that it had been there and had failed. I'm going into boring detail here, but it's the interaction now with national decision-making at a level that simply didn't occur when I was director of Naval Intelligence and only rarely occurred when I was the vice director of DIA.

ZIERLER: At the level of national policy, how closely were you following the health of the Shah and the potential impact that that had for Iran?

INMAN: I was dissatisfied with the reporting we were getting. I had heard that there was internal strife. We weren't seeing any of it, because we really were doing very little on internal Iranian activity. I proposed to the ambassador that I send an expanded team to work at the Embassy in Tehran. I wanted to provide some additional coverage on Soviet activity, but I told him part of it would expand coverage on domestic activity. He said, "No, I don't want any new people here. I've got more people than I—and anyway, I get all I need to know internally from the SAVAK. I don't need anything else." Which is why we were so poorly informed until the actual collapse of the Shah regime.

In retrospect, nobody had ever asked for intelligence on flow of money from Iran out of the country. Later, we go back and find people leaving beginning in the spring of 1978—if they were wealthy—out of the country and taking their money with them, to Los Angeles, in large numbers, and scattered in other places, but mostly the U.S. We were not tracking money flows into the U.S. It was there to be collected, but it was not on anybody's target list. That could have been a real warning. If the wealthy are getting out of the country and taking their money with them, that says support for the Shah is eroding fast. No coverage, no info.

Fast forward to early Reagan, the chief of the Soviet general staff, General Ogarkov, complained that if they didn't spend more money to keep up with what was happening in the U.S. in conventional arms, they were no longer going to be on the same par as a superpower. He was told that they didn't have the money to do that. His response was, "Then change the people who are running the economy." Well, they changed him. They sent him out to head Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. In retrospect, that was a very clear warning of how much trouble the Soviet economy was in, but nobody was asking about that. In my 44 months at NSA, the only person who ever asked me anything about the Soviet economy was Caspar Weinberger, and what he wanted was the data that would let him compare the ruble to the dollar in defense expenditures to support budget requests before Congress.

ZIERLER: You're saying Cap Weinberger was not thinking broadly about the coming collapse of the Soviet Union?

INMAN: He was not.

ZIERLER: I'd like to switch gears just for a minute to come out of the chronology. At this point in your career, once you get your sea legs at the NSA, I wonder if you can talk a little bit about what you learned about leadership, about when to delegate—

INMAN: Good, good, good.

ZIERLER: —when to take responsibility, when to bring something up the chain of command.

INMAN: Let's go back to—I've become director of Naval intelligence. I have 3,600 people, all these social events, et al. I got into a pattern almost immediately of filling up two briefcases, maybe three, and taking them over to the quarters, and putting them in the safe in the basement. However late I had been out, I got in at 4:00 in the morning. Between 4:00 and 6:00, I went through all of that material, called them to tell them they were ready to be picked up. Around 6:00, they'd come and pick up the briefcases, and by the time I got to the office a little after 7:00, it was already out. Now, what's wrong with that system? People stop making decisions, because it was easier to put something in the briefcase and get an answer than run a risk that I would second-guess a decision they had made. It also conveys that I probably wasn't that gentle if I didn't like a decision somebody had made that I thought was not a solid decision. So it forced me to learn to delegate, and I honed that the last eight, nine months as DNI. When I got to NSA—two different tracks here. Go back. I've been managing the careers of a little over 1,000 Naval intelligence officers, tracking performance, sending the top performers to match up with flag officers that I knew were on their way up.

I got to NSA, and the third week, I formed a commission chaired by Ann Caracristi who had the Soviet problem; she had been in the Agency for a long time, steady hand—and six other deputy directors gathered around the agency, including her boss. Their task was to tell me what GS-14s and GS-15s were water walkers, performing way ahead of the rest of their peers. They grumbled at the outset and got serious, and in about six weeks came back to me with 81 names. Then I dropped the other shoe. I moved all 81 of them, over the next two months, into new jobs. Before I left, I moved them again. Only three of them didn't make it. That's a pretty spectacular—if only three of the 81—and a lot of personal pride, still. Subsequently, three of those 81 over time became deputy directors of the agency. They were the principal leaders for the next decade.

There's a plaque somewhere here, as I'm stripping down the walls—came into the office—November a year ago, two years ago, I was awarded the National Cryptologic Hall of Honor Mission, only the second former director ever to be given it. The first was General [Ralph] Canine who was the founder [i.e., first director of the NSA]. It goes into detail about focus on long-term strategy, plans, people. Now, having first that going, so I got my arms around talent, I sensed pretty quickly that the agency's view was that the deputy would run the agency day-to-day and the director was there to go deal with the outside world, carry me around like the pharaoh inside, put me down for ceremonies and awards, and then send me out the door. That wasn't how I planned to run things. About the same time I started the commission, I directed that nothing could be put on my schedule for two hours on Tuesday afternoon. I was going to wander. Great pushback. "Oh, we need that time. All these things need to be worked on. We can't afford that." Held my ground. Third Tuesday that I did it, I walked into an area of G7. On the wall was a banner just in case I came there: "Welcome Vice Admiral Inman. You are the first director to visit G7 since General Canine." That told me all I needed to know, and I sustained that throughout my tour as director. There were a lot of societies within the agency—Women in NSA, Cryptologic Associates, and others. I would go visit them, see what they were talking about. What were their concerns? Deputy director told me I was wasting my time. But I learned things.

I expanded the staff meeting, the morning meeting and discuss what was going on in issues, polices, and always wondered, how does that look five levels down? So I started a new organization of four director's fellows, young civilians at the GS-10, GS-11 level. They would have had eight to ten years in, and they were my eyes and ears of what was going on all over the agency. Interacted with them regularly. It was very interesting that what they heard when I put out some policy, five levels down, wasn't what I thought I had conveyed, so it led me to, how do I expand this? So I began quarterly having all the upper levels of management plus 50 junior people into Friedman Auditorium, 450 people, to give a report card. Half an hour on how in my view the agency was performing, how it was perceived outside—Congress—to be performing, where were problems, and then answered questions for half an hour, anything they wanted to ask. The feedback from that was huge.

Now, this next story I tell you a little reluctantly because it seems to be self-aggrandizing. It's something that happened—it wasn't planned. NSA even then celebrated Martin Luther King's birthday. It was before it became a national holiday. They always had a very senior Black political appointee come to be the speaker, and they always had a backstop of somebody more junior if the principal cancelled out. The first January, six months into the job, they came running in—the undersecretary of Commerce had cancelled. Would I call Rear Admiral Jerry Thomas, the backup, to get him to come speak? I knew him, I liked him, but the only reason he was on the list was because he was Black. I said, "I will do it." What did Martin Luther King mean to me? Non-violence. Tackling tough issues with always a non-violent approach to producing change. And I got a standing ovation from the crowd. We had a pretty strong middle-class Black workforce. Numbers were pretty strong. The whole rest of my time, whenever that community was with me throughout—it was not calculated; it was just trying to deal with an issue, and to deal with it in a candid, straightforward way.

Fast forward almost two years, I had hired a new the general counsel, Roy Banner, was a wonderful gentleman who had been an NSA employee who went to law school. I wanted a first-rate lawyer, so I went to the DOD general counsel, and she got me Dan Silver, from the Cleary Gottlieb company. Right off, he asked the Justice Department to let him handle a case in Alexandria related to the ability to deny access to classified material. Dan won a sweeping court decision, so suddenly I was brilliant for having hired him. When we get around to dealing with public cryptography, he played a key role and touched there.

Anyway, Stan Turner hired him away to be the CIA general counsel, so I went back to Deanne, the DOD general counsel, and she got me Dan Schwartz. Dan had been in the job about two months, three months, and we get a letter addressed to me from Frank Kameny, who was representing what we now call the LGBTQ community. An NSA employee who had just finished the Central Asian language course at the Foreign Language Institute with the highest score ever recorded. Wanted to come out, and wanted to stay as an employee. Dan came in to tell me this, and he said, "And if you turn him down, you're going to lose the case." I threw him out, stewed about it overnight, called him back the next day—Schwartz—and said, "Okay. What are our fundamental interests?" No black magic. Have to tell everybody in his family and friends so there's no purpose for blackmail. No violation of state or local law. What you do in the privacy of your bedroom, as Goldwater would later regard, is none of the government's business. But you're not out by the side of the road or in the middle of a bus stop or whatever. Third one, if you're going to march in a Pride parade, please don't say "NSA employee" on the t-shirt. And the fourth one is serious. It was, agree to a once a year polygraph for a single question. "Has anybody approached you to get you to release classified information?" A letter went back with those four. Kameny agreed to all of them.

I told Dr. Brown I was about to make that decision. He asked me a couple of questions, that—"I'll support it. I'll take care of the White House. You tell the chairmen of your committees you're going to do it." Eddie Boland was sort of, "Mm, well, if you think that's right." Goldwater listened intensely and then said, "It's the right decision. What the individual does privately is not government business, but you have dealt with legitimate cause for concern about being enticed into a honey trap or whatever." We then announced it. Furor among the security people throughout the intelligence community. Flyers—"NSA has solved its space problems; emptied its closets." When Jim Clapper as director of national intelligence came down to Austin a few years ago, he told that story, and that he had therefore gone on, as he moved up, to change the rules for the entire community. Had I not had Dan Schwartz's solid counsel, walking me through the steps, I don't know that I would have made that decision. But what you were going to lose if it went to court could have had a significant impact.

I had been in the job about three months, and in come this stack of folders for me to send out to the president to authorize wiretaps inside the U.S. for foreign intelligence collection—embassies, trade organizations, et al. I dutifully sign this. It's an annual exercise. The courier takes them down and Brzezinski's deputy, David Aaron, had been on the Church Committee staff, to review them for going up to the president. He says, "This is like J. Edgar Hoover. They're trying to get things they can blackmail the president for." The courier stepped out, called me, told me what he had just heard. I said, "Pick them all up, bring them back, and when the current authorities expire, we'll stop the coverage." And we did. One of the places where we stopped the coverage, the attorney general was reading the product every day because he was tracking potential Congressional improper activities. Calls up, and said "No." No signatures, no collection. Brzezinski calls me—"Get those down here right now. The president will sign them today. We need that coverage." So I did, but then I went to see Senator Inouye and Senator Goldwater and said, "I am just not comfortable with this process. As I watch on the criminal side, the FBI goes to a judge and gets a warrant. We need a special court that can review classified applications and make a judgment."

He gave me Senator Warren Rudman from New Hampshire and Senator Biden from Delaware, and the two of them came up with the FISA court. All kinds of other people claimed a role; not true. This is how FISA court came to be. Fast forward six months after that, the Army granted immunity to a sergeant in Panama who had been coopted by Noriega, because they wanted to know what all he had told so they could protect themselves. I went back, Biden this time [had] given the Classified Information Procedures Act, which says if somebody is claiming release information, is it relevant to the case at hand? If it's not, prohibit its being released or used in evidence. We got a lot of convictions for people that would have otherwise escaped.

All of this is circling around management style and decision-making. Ben Buffham was the deputy director when I came. He had relieved Tordella, who had been there 19 years, truly ran the place through a variety of directors. Buffham had done pretty much the same thing. Lew Allen had told me that there were 16,000 people in the home office, 45,000 worldwide, and that of the 16,000, 80% were civilian and 20% military, opposite ratio in the field. Lew said what he did, he looked after the 20% who were military and Buff looked after the civilians. You already know I tackled that with my looking for water walkers. But I decided I needed to reward Buff for a wonderful career, to send he and his wife to London to be the liaison with GCHQ. Chris loved the idea of going to London to live, and so they went off happily. Bob Drake, who was director for operations—tough guy—he was the successor. After two years, he asked to retire. He just found working for me difficult. I was so intrusive into things. Bob Rich was going to be the next deputy, but I took Ann Caracristi. First woman to be deputy director of any of the intelligence agencies. Open door between our offices, shared everything. She was not the least reluctant to tell me when she thought I was wrong, and we'd talk through why. Sometimes she would persuade me and sometimes she wouldn't.

When I went off to Langley, Linc Faurer who as director, didn't want to run the agency. He wanted to deal with the outside world. She took over and ran it for two years beautifully and was awarded the National Security Medal when she stepped down. I worked a little magic on the side and got her appointed to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, where she served for another 15 years or so. Wonderfully talented lady, but I had already been sold when she chaired the commission that looked for the talent.

There are other things that are very exciting out of that timeframe that I'm not going to talk about, because they're still relevant to this day. Let's just say some major decisions, major budget expenditures done, with invaluable support of Dr. Brown, who would tell Turner what we were going to do and get the president to authorize it. Dr. Brown later told me that for one specific program, I had caused the Navy to lose a destroyer, funding for one, but it was worth it in what was produced from it. So you begin to get a broad view of why this was such an incredibly exciting job.

ZIERLER: Last question for today. Coming in with the Carter administration, after the Church and Pike committees, a Democratic presidential administration, after the Nixon and Ford years, to what extent, when you came in to direct the NSA, did you feel that you had a mandate for change? What were the political tea leaves? What were the national security tea leaves you might have been reading? What were the tools and levers available to you to make the changes that were most important?

INMAN: I was already making the changes—keeping the gay employee, and a lot of others that get less visibility. Judicial oversight of collection inside the United States, as opposed to political. So I didn't have a problem with transition, but a lot of that is the incredible support from Dr. Brown. When I thought I needed to do something—ah! Senator Inouye—I can't remember what the issue was now. He was trying to find out something and he called me to see if NSA had any relevant info on it. I said, "We'll take a fast look." I call Brzezinski's office to tell him that I've had this inquiry and we were providing the answer. Brzezinski—"Who authorized that?" "I did." "You made that decision on your own without seeking approval from Harold or Stan?" "Yes." "Well, we can't have that." About two hours later, Senator Inouye had gone straight to the White House to see Carter. Brzezinski calling—"Get that information to Senator Inouye now. He needs it."

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: There were innumerable situations with Brzezinski. On the other hand, he could also be very supportive. 1979, when he's going out to Beijing to do the formal shifting from Taipei to Beijing, the U.N. seat, et al, I was going to Japan to visit my Japanese counterparts. Brzezinski I guess heard about it and offered me to fly out with them. They were going to be landing at Narita to refuel, or Yokota. A hell of a lot better than having to go commercial. I show up at Andrews, and there's the Chinese ranking figure to see him off for this big mission, at which point Brzezinski just couldn't resist, and said, "Oh, and this is Vice Admiral Inman, the Director of NSA, who's going with us." The guy visibly blanched. He said, "And he's getting off in Japan." And you could see the relief.

Odom was Brzezinski's military assistant. Once I had been briefed into the hostage rescue, I called Odom to say, "Have you all seriously examined cost of failure? What if this doesn't work? What's going to be the impact on the presidency, the country?" "Oh, you don't understand. This has to happen. It has to work, because it's critical for the president getting reelected." That was sort of typical of my exchanges. Odom later succeeded Linc Faurer as the director of NSA, and that's not a period when I was particularly welcome at the Fort, but then with his successors, it picked back up.

Now I'm going to end it with one from the other side. Got a call from Dr. Brown—"We have developed a new electronic warfare capability. It's ready to be deployed. We think the optimum place to deploy it would be the place you have in the U.K. Can you find out how the British would react to a request to do that?" Secure phone, call my GCHQ counterpart, Sir Brian Tovey—"Got it. Bobby, I'll be back to you." He goes to Sir Robert Armstrong, who is a cabinet secretary, who goes in to see Mrs. Thatcher. Called back, about six hours after I first called. Mrs. Thatcher had authorized deployment, but hoped if we were going to use it, if there was time, that she would be alerted it was going to be used. So I called Dr. Brown feeling pretty good. He said, "Bobby, we haven't even told the White House yet that we're considering this!"

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: "And here you already have approval from the prime minister for the deployment!" But it tells you how good those working relationships were, and how important.

ZIERLER: On that note, have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We'll pick up for next time.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, November 29th, 2021. Once again, it is my great pleasure to be with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. As always, wonderful to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, David.

ZIERLER: Today we're going to continue during your time directing the National Security Agency during the Carter administration. Some high-level questions, as they pertain to the administration. Let's start first with President Carter. He was known famously, or infamously as it were, as a micromanager, that he would do everything from correct grammar on memos to be involved at the granular level, all the way down the chain of command. From where you sat and from what you saw in the intelligence community, how did that filter to your portfolio?

INMAN: I think we actually highlighted that in the story in the previous session, when the CIA had provided keying materials for a sometimes-friendly country, and we had produced product. Reading it, I thought it was extraordinarily sensitive, so I distributed it by courier rather than electronically. President Carter called me to tell me how important it was, if he could get more he'd like to have it, but he took four names off the distribution list. That was the kind of detail he was famous for.

ZIERLER: Did you have a front-row seat to the famous rivalry between Brzezinski and Cyrus Vance?

INMAN: Second row. Brzezinski was trying to outdo Kissinger. He was an incredibly smart guy, but he did not have, in my view, Kissinger's strategic vision. My encounters with him, he was trying to manage every day's operation, and that clearly produced substantial difficulties between he and Secretary Vance. I found I did not have a lot of interaction with Secretary Vance. More of it was with Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher. But I found him reasonable, thoughtful. Now, there's a little bias here; I worked with Cyrus Vance a lot in my post-government days, his post-government, in an organization called Public Agenda, which he and Dan Yankelovich recruited me to join the board, and I served about 18 years on that in the private sector time. My views of Vance are probably stronger from that period, because there was much more frequent interaction than there was during when he was secretary of State. But as I reported to you, when President Carter asked me to leave word at Andrews Air Force Base that the hostages were out of Iran, Secretary Vance had gone to pay his respects for the president's departure, even though he had resigned as secretary of State over the hostage rescue effort. He was a thoughtful, gentle man.

ZIERLER: Were you involved personally, or more generally, what was the intelligence community's contributions to the SALT II nuclear negotiations?

INMAN: I do not have any firsthand recollection of those. My involvement was in trying to get Senate verification of particularly John Glenn concerned that we could not adequately verify the treaty, and that led—I think I reported to you before—to lengthy sessions, lunches that would be hosted by Vice President Mondale. Bill Perry and I would be there to talk, and there would be usually just one senator, but it was to persuade him about our ability to verify the treaty and its importance.

ZIERLER: This would have been outside your direct portfolio, of course, but what were your ideas about the development and the ultimate shelving of the neutron bomb?

INMAN: Actually, I had very little exposure to it. The thought of going after people and not facilities was not appealing to me.

ZIERLER: Why not?

INMAN: In some ways it's almost like the assassination issue all over again. Destroying facilities which can be used to do damage, I'm comfortable with. Going after people inside the facilities but not disturbing the facilities just struck me as the wrong. Again, these are on-the-fly, thoughtful—maybe not even very thoughtful—responses, because I had no direct involvement.

ZIERLER: Beyond nuclear weapons, 20 years of course before September 11th, what was the intelligence community thinking about so-called weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons, chemical weapons, during the Carter administration?

INMAN: They were the focus of National Intelligence Estimates. A lot of effort went into it. There were national intelligence officers who had specific charters in that case. My limited interaction says they were very talented people. The concern indeed was on nuclear proliferation, development of biological and chemical weapons. Could you in fact put together arms control treaties that would successfully limit those? The chemical one was particularly hard because the materials used were routinely available in industrial and agricultural work, unlike enhanced uranium, which is not. Biological—again, the issue with all of the advances in science, trying to understand, was that going to facilitate creation of biological agents? Those were areas of concern, and they were difficult ones. Where I got involved in all of these, David, usually was in how you would verify the treaty. The latter two were much harder than enriched uranium.

ZIERLER: Again, long before there was a Department of Homeland Security, was anybody during the Carter administration thinking about international terrorism and non-state actors infiltrating the United States and causing damage here?

INMAN: None to my recollection.

ZIERLER: It was considered, what, like purely an Arab-Israeli kind of problem?

INMAN: It was considered much more criminal activity, and something that INTERPOL should deal with. You will recall later when President Reagan orders the attack on Libya after the discotheque bombings—15 April 1986. Up to that point, INTERPOL considered terrorism political, not criminal activities, therefore they did very little to help against the internal activities in Germany, Italy, Japan, until—that was the one positive result from President Reagan's strikes; INTERPOL the next day changed their rules to make terrorism charges criminal, not just political, and therefore to exchange information. That was the turning point in the domestic terrorist activities in Europe. But there was no consideration that I can recall of that activity spreading to the U.S.

ZIERLER: With your access at a global level to all of the problems facing the United States, what stands out in your memory during the late 1970s as the areas of greatest concern to U.S. national security?

INMAN: Nuclear proliferation was at the top of the list. Second, expansion of communism, of Soviet control of governments in other countries, expanding their empire. Toward the end of it, I'd say during the Carter administration, increased focus on accuracy of conventional weapons to lessen reliance on the prospect of nuclear exchange. By going to precision delivery, conventional weapons, could you reduce the likelihood of the need to use nuclear weapons? I think we've already discussed that that would later, in the 1980s, become a major issue inside the Soviet Union over whether they were investing enough to keep up with us. They had matched, exceeded the nuclear capability, but it was the sudden awareness of a growing gap in conventional precision arms that would later be a major factor leading toward the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

ZIERLER: When you talk about nuclear proliferation, what countries specifically were of concern to you at that point?

INMAN: We had the six [nuclear powers], and the primary focus in my recollection was in pending capabilities in India and Pakistan. India did not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan did and then promptly violated its commitments. That led to substantial estrangement in our relationships with Pakistan. But it didn't really lead to any improvement in relationships with India until really we were into the George W. Bush time.

ZIERLER: What were your thoughts on the Taiwan issue during the Carter administration?

INMAN: My concerns about Taiwan began with the 1958 crisis in the Taiwan Straits, and it was recurring. Mao would get caught up in his internal projects—Great Leap Forward, eventually Cultural Revolution. The concern was, would he also turn to military activity to try to take Taiwan? It was a topic of concern, particularly of the immediately offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which were shelled regularly for a long period of time, but which stayed unoccupied by the Chinese. The nationalists continued to control them, kept military units deployed on both the islands. So I don't recall any heightened concern until our current era.

ZIERLER: April 1978, how surprised were you with the communist revolution in Afghanistan?

INMAN: Very. Again, Afghanistan was not a country that we were paying a lot of attention to. Therefore, when the coup occurred, and the communists came to power, the requests for coverage dramatically increased. It was not an easy target to get to. It was not a country with a lot of modern communications. Still a lot of it was high frequency, which you could access from a variety of locales. But the request for coverage increased substantially coming from the DCI and from Brzezinski.

ZIERLER: From what you were seeing in real time, did you think this was an indigenous revolution or it was something orchestrated by the Soviets?

INMAN: I was comfortable that it was indigenous, and that was because the Soviets seemed surprised, happily surprised, by it. But immediately set out—how did they support? It was I think from the Soviet side that we first got our inklings of the split in the governing group in Kabul, and the fact that they were not only not working together but beginning to fight one another. We watched over the months that followed increasing Soviet concern that if they couldn't stop that internal internecine warfare between the two factions, that they were going to lose the communist government. That's when they began planning and then exercising, demonstrating, how they would go in, to in fact ensure maintenance of the communist government.

ZIERLER: Given the fact that this fit perfectly within the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine, how early were you convinced that Moscow would do whatever it took to maintain the communist government in Afghanistan?

INMAN: I was persuaded by mid-summer of 1979, but there was broad disagreement in the intelligence community. The CIA believed it was possible but not—DIA was even further down the scale. We were persuaded because as we were tracking the nature of Soviet exercises, they were different from their normal exercises, and it appeared to us to be rehearsal for actually sending forces into Afghanistan. By September, those signals were absolutely clear about Soviet intentions. What was lacking was timing. We were determined that—it was the 22nd of December when I told Brzezinski that we were persuaded that the invasion was imminent probably within three days. I got a pushback from the other intelligence agencies who did not share that view. They actually went in, as you know, on Christmas morning, the 25th. DIA was still carrying their chart of when something might happen to the 26th, before they finally altered their estimate of days before anything might happen, when it had already taken place.

ZIERLER: What did you think were the primary motivations in supporting the mujahideen? In other words, how much of it was geostrategic, about preventing Soviet expansionism, and how much of it was simply payback for Vietnam?

INMAN: It was the former, very strongly—to discourage the Soviets from undertaking comparable activities in other countries. It was sufficiently expensive, painful, that they would be reluctant to go beyond the immediate periphery of the Soviet Union. President Carter approved the first finding, to undertake covert operations. Brzezinski was the architect of it. They solicited financial support from the Saudis, who agreed to come up with 50% of the cost. We recruited the Pakistanis to do the training in camps set up in Pakistan. I'm not sure who all was involved in the recruiting the Afghan rebels to become guerillas. You'll note the interesting term "guerillas," not terrorists. That fine point was because they were going to attack military, not civilians. The initial equipment, we bought a lot of it from a group of Soviet forces in Germany who were willing to sell anything, so a lot of the AK-47s et al were bought on the black market from Group of Soviet Forces in Germany.

ZIERLER: Given how modest the covert action supporting the mujahideen was from the beginning—obviously under Reagan it grew much larger—to what extent was it symbolic, and to what extent did the Carter administration really build the program so that it would grow and serve as an effective counter to Soviet adventurism?

INMAN: I think the difference really was in the view of what scale of activity did you need to do to discourage the Soviets. The Carter administration [conclusion] was that relatively small activity would in fact accomplish that. The decision to dramatically expand it was driven by Bill Casey when he became the DCI. He persuaded the White House et al that this was an opportunity. This is close to John Foster Dulles' rollback strategy from much earlier. He was persuaded that if we dramatically escalated it—and then over time, recognizing that the guerillas was primarily losing to helicopter-borne troops, the decision to upgrade to the Stinger missiles, provide those, which created havoc on the Soviet helicopter forces and dramatically increased their casualties and ultimately led to the decision to depart. But you'll recall when they went in, they pretty quickly set out to reunify the communist government by killing off the primary leader in the process and installing somebody who they were comfortable with doing their bidding.

ZIERLER: From where you sat, were the Pakistanis and the ISI, were they good partners? Were they trustworthy in this endeavor?

INMAN: They were considered so. They were happy to take the money and do the training. I think on the U.S. side, maybe more broadly, no thought of the far-ranging consequences. I think looking back at it, the bridge that was crossed was in moving from Afghan refugees to Arab jihadists, and recruiting across the Arab world out of the madrasas, people to come do the jihad, and the going to Pakistan, people like the leader from Egypt and his deputy, Osama bin Laden, et al. Still all aimed at defeating communism, until they were successful, until the Soviets withdraw. Then suddenly it shifted to being the U.S. was the prime target for jihad, not communism. I don't think we saw that coming. For me looking back at it, it is probably the point that should have led to much more focus. Plus, when they began recruiting Arabs to join the Afghan refugees.

ZIERLER: That's of course, hindsight is 20/20. Nobody has a crystal ball. Is anybody during the Carter administration thinking about what we now call blowback? That some of these jihadists might have access to weapons that one day might be harmful to U.S. interests?

INMAN: Not only do I not think there was any interest in it, there was substantial shock when the Northern Alliance rolled into Kabul, and they captured a lot of files from al Qaeda, and they found out that they had actually addressed [the question], could they get nuclear weapons? Could they build them? If not, could they acquire them? When they ruled that they couldn't, then they spent a fair amount of time on the dirty bomb, getting radioactive materials, medical waste, et al, and using conventional explosives to create terror. But I don't recall any focus on that in the late 1970s.

ZIERLER: Without going into any classified details, at a broad level, how did NSA contribute to the covert action in Afghanistan?

INMAN: Tracking Soviet casualties. Reports of casualties, reports of operations that had not gone well. I did not have access, as I recall, to the human reporting that was coming from the support to the Northern Alliance, which was being done primarily through Pakistan. The Northern Alliance had the good fortune of having an outstanding leader in Ahmed Shah Massoud. He was assassinated by al-Qaeda posing as a French television crew, on the 8th of September 2001, three days before 9/11.

ZIERLER: In the grand sweep of history, when the Soviets invaded in December of 1979, how did you rank that in terms of a breach of protocol, comparing it with 1956 or 1968?

INMAN: It was clear evidence that the Brezhnev-led government was willing to use force beyond their borders. Up to that point in time, they had supported Castro. They had extracted from him troops into Angola, troops into Ethiopia, but had not sent their own. So it crossed a line in their willingness to go use force, their own armed forces, beyond their borders, beyond the scope of the Warsaw Pact.

ZIERLER: Did you see this as the death knell of détente?

INMAN: It certainly put it in cold storage. Brzezinski was always eager to do more. His Polish ancestry plays a role here. Anything that indicated difficulty within the bloc, he was eager to try to exploit. Much of that, he was not successful in so doing. Casey was equally focused on trying to do that. In Casey's time, it became focused on the Vatican and the pope, and his Polish origins.

ZIERLER: What was your relationship with Stan Turner, and how would you assess his tenure as DCI?

About that stage of the game, maybe a little later, Bob Gates, who had been called back and was executive assistant for Brzezinski, went back to the agency, and Turner pulled him in to be his executive assistant, so if I had to deal with CIA at the up-top level, I simply dealt with Gates, not with Turner. That chilled relationship continued post our service. Then about, I don't know, 15 years or so ago, Turner showed up in Austin and invited me to have coffee with him. The sharpness of my views had declined at that point in time, so we had a pleasant conversation. Had a few more but never—not much revisiting of service. In his book, if I recall, he managed to take a solid aim at me for difficulties of working with me and not supporting his programs. I tried to separate my concerns about management, the budgeting process, from analysis, and to limit—I would occasionally take footnotes, but more often I would go along with their primary view of assessing future threats, et al.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Outlined all the difficulties. I called him on Monday morning, respectfully told him that I was going to retire and go on to the civilian world, and I turned him down. He was polite about it. Once they were in office and I was Shanghaied to come be the deputy to Casey, we set up a regular weekly breakfast meeting, one with Al Haig at State, and one with Weinberger in Defense. In both cases, when Casey was traveling, they asked me to continue with the breakfast meetings, coordinating where we were on a whole range of problems. When I saw the attack on the Osira reactor in Syria, I looked at it—800 miles, even with tanking, that meant the Israelis had to have precision targeting data. At that point in time, only the British and Israelis could automatically requisition satellite photography; everybody else had to ask for it. So I asked, "What have the Israelis requisitioned over the last six months?" Wanting to pin down, had they used our satellite collection to target the Osira reactor? Well, I found not only had they done that, but they had covered every Arab capital and military installation and the rest of it. So I issued—Casey was off in New Zealand fishing, and I said they may automatically requisition to 250 miles from Israeli borders, clearly for defensive purposes. For offense, they've got to ask. Ariel Sharon was minister of defense. He was infuriated, flew to Washington to talk to Weinberger to get Weinberger to overrule my decision, and Weinberger looked at it all and sustained my decision. That was just another example—my relationships with him were good.

Ah! I had taken Linc Faurer, my successor, into call Weinberger. We were sitting in his office when the call came that there had been an effort to assassinate President Reagan coming out of the Hilton Hotel. Weinberger's sedan was off doing an errand for [his wife] Jane, and they were beginning to flap about getting in it. I said, "Linc and I are heading back to Fort Meade. We'll drop you off at the White House." He accepted and we drove him and deposited him at the gate to go in for the meetings that they had, that became famous, with Haig's "I'm in charge" routine. So my relationship with Weinberger was positive throughout.

Another event, Stockman had made a pitch to us, to the chairman, to me, as the deputy DCI, et al, on prospective budgets, and said he would sustain what we were asking for in putting together the budget for the coming year. President Reagan went out to California, as he liked to do, and he called a meeting—I guess it was a Cabinet meeting—at the Century City Hotel. We're sitting there and suddenly Stockman starts—his proposal was to take pretty big hits out of the defense and the intelligence budgets to go fund the other things—talked about the poor alcoholic Indians and others going to be deprived if we didn't take these cuts. I pushed back hard. The chairman pushed back hard. Secretary Weinberger said, "Mr. President, let's set this aside, and I'll talk with you later." Reagan accepted. When Weinberger had his session, he got what he wanted to keep protecting both the budgets. That was the beginning of Stockman's downward spiral before he then got too carried away with his own media appearances and ended up out of office. But I considered him absolutely untrustworthy. It was a deliberate—he told us one thing in July, and something totally different in August.

But again, my interactions with Weinberger throughout were supportive, constructive. He was a good consumer, supported intelligence activity. Carlucci had been given the task of, as you'll recall from my earlier thing about my session with the president on the budget—"Bobby, spend what you need to rebuild the intelligence community, and Frank, you find where to put it in the defense budget." I was not involved, I had long since departed, for a lot of the things related to Iran-Contra et al.

ZIERLER: Moving back to the Middle East conflict, was the NSA or more generally the intelligence community involved in the preparation or execution of the Camp David Accords?

INMAN: We played no role. That's not quite true. We were asked, what were they sending home? That's about as far as I think I can safely go on that topic. We were not involved in the preparations, monitoring the outcome. That was very largely White House, collaboration with State. I don't even know what role that Harold Brown played in that. I suspect he probably was involved. But the key here, the president got—let's back up. Sadat's trip to Jerusalem was a pretty brave act. The last Arab leader who had been there was King Abdullah of Jordan who was assassinated, with his grandson Hussein there with him. Sadat decided to go after they had lost the Yom Kippur War. It got wide coverage on Israeli television, and it changed Israeli attitudes—"Maybe this is somebody we could work with." I think Begin was less persuaded. But given the positive response inside Israel to Sadat's trip, he reluctantly accepted to go to Camp David. It really was an exercise in keeping them there until eventually you got an agreement. This is one place where I applaud President Carter's attention to detail. He simply wouldn't let them leave until he had an agreement.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: I wonder to what extent you appreciated in geostrategic terms Camp David as a Cold War victory for the Americans, first in showing that it would not be Soviet weaponry to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but that it would be American diplomacy that effectively boxed the Soviets out from these negotiations?

INMAN: The Soviets had sold a lot of hardware to both Egypt and Syria. The story I remember from that timeframe that helped shape—when they did the Six-Day War, a very enterprising, young, Israeli lieutenant colonel was the director of Israeli air force intelligence. He took several helicopters and commandos, and they crossed the Red Sea and captured two SA-2 missile sites, and took the launchers, the missiles, the manuals, everything about them, back. Then Shaike Bareket went to the office of the U.S. air attaché and said, "Would you be interested in having Soviet SA-2 missiles?" Which were in North Vietnam, down U.S. bombing runs, so the answer was definitely yes. At that point, the U.S. had been reluctant to flow resupply of ammunition et al. All of a sudden, aircraft were on their way with ammunition to haul back the two missile sites, which were thoroughly examined, led to building electronic warfare defenses against the systems that were very helpful in reducing our casualties in North Vietnam.

Bareket was an interesting character in his own right, later deputy Defense attaché in Washington. On back, got out of the military, as brigadier general, ran for the Knesset in the election on Ariel Sharon's ticket, and then got into a discussion with him and ethical reasons, he resigned his seat and never played further in Israeli politics. Our interest in the military hardware was more "What can we learn about the equipment, its capabilities, its performance?" The Israelis of course were so successful with it, the Six-Day War and again in Yom Kippur in wiping out particularly the Air Force equipment that they acquired in the process.

ZIERLER: Let's go back to Iran. We talked already about some misgivings you had when the Shah was in ill health. Do you have a clear memory of when you realized that the situation was getting out of control in Iran?

The feel for the extent of corruption inside Iran came with a glimpse while I was director of Naval intelligence and running a protocol. The head of the Iranian navy came for a visit and brought with him his very attractive much younger wife. We were doing tours for her as well as all of the things he was doing officially. Well, she only wanted to go to Garfinckel's, and at Garfinckel's, she wasn't interested in clothes; she was interested in the jewelry counter. The employee behind the desk got increasingly nervous at how much was piling up and she pulled a great wad of $100 bills out and paid cash for all of it. They bought F-14 fighters, but they were also buying destroyers for the Iranian navy. It turned out their CNO had been taking big payoffs for that. When he got home, he got two broken legs and removed from office after he confessed. It was a sign of the extent of corruption inside the Iranian military. I guess I didn't really focus on that as much when I saw things weakening for the Shah, but I should have recognized that the extent of corruption had probably meant that the military wasn't going to be a strong force to stand up and retain him in office. ZIERLER: Before the hostage crisis, was Ayatollah Khomeini on your radar at all? INMAN: No. I knew there was a cleric in exile in France who was flooding cassettes of his sermons out all over the place, but nothing more than that. ZIERLER: What was the day like for you when the militants took over the embassy in Tehran? INMAN: Multiple reactions. Once, quiet relief that Sullivan had turned me down and I didn't have a whole [lot] of NSA employees there. Trying to help identify who was doing it, what they were doing, where they were. Helping liaison with the Canadians, who had taken in a number of them. We were alerted to track and provide warning when they were extracting—you've seen Argo, the movie? It's pretty accurate except the chase down the runway; that didn't happen, but the rest of it is portrayed pretty much as it went. There was no sign of any kind of reaction to identify that these were in fact Americans who were being extracted. Turner took over all of that as his province. Again, as we've covered in one of the earlier interviews, he was going to provide all the intelligence support to the hostage rescue operation, et al, even though he didn't have the capacity to do it. On that day itself, shock. That was the first—we had had people break into embassies to set fire et al, but never to go and take hostages before, for which the Iranians have never paid the price to date. ZIERLER: What role did the NSA play, if at all, in the planning to rescue the hostages? INMAN: We covered this in an earlier session, David, at some length, because I described pulling together signals. Our role, once we were brought into it, was try to provide timely warning. To tell both the chairman and General Vaught anything which might have been detected, that they were going to be attacked, all the rest of it. Then when it turned out they had the crash on the ground and the withdrawal, to alert—President Carter wanted to know, before they knew in Tehran, so he could make his announcement. It was a persuasive demonstration that in pulling together, relaying all different kinds of communications from different collecting vehicles, and bringing linguists together, that you could provide direct tactical support to military operations. The services didn't like that at all, because they were persuaded—when Brzezinski saw that he'd be going out to NSA to try to run their next military operation. Unified and specified commanders saw it recognized as a potential timely broader use of national assets to provide direct tactical support that had not been recognized or used before. ZIERLER: What kind of planning, if at all, was there, or discussions, about a more robust military response from Washington? INMAN: I think the discussions that followed on the several days after November the 4th was to conclude that there was no viable overt military response that wouldn't endanger the lives of the 59 hostages. That led to the plan for an operation that really was patterned on the effort to go after the North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp, which turned out to be empty, that we had tried during the Vietnam time. After that one failed, there was substantial discussion about a follow-on effort—different vehicles, different locations, but to try again. That's when President Carter made the definite decision that he wasn't going to do that, and said he was going to rely on diplomacy to try to extract them. That's when I became deeply involved with him as we've already discussed. ZIERLER: Do you think that one of Iran's primary motivations was to force Carter from office, to ruin his reelection chances? INMAN: Those were byproducts. They were persuaded that the embassy was the source of much espionage going on, supporting would-be opposition to where the Ayatollah was taking Iran. When you recall that the attack was actually done by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, not by the Iranian military, and it was the beginning of the expansion of role, mission, power, wealth of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, who reported to Khomeini, not to the government, and also protected. This expanded even under Khamenei from what it had been under Khomeini. I'm pausing, because I was about to leap ahead to early 1980s. We've still got the 1970s to work our way through. ZIERLER: During this whole ordeal, during the hostage crisis, what were some of the darkest moments for you? When were you most concerned that we would lose the hostages? INMAN: Once I became aware of the details of the plan, helicopters carried on a carrier but not flown, to get them out there, mixed service—these had not operated as an operating unit. They had exercised together. A Marine major pilot who had been one of the aides to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs wanted to be [involved]. So it was a pickup team of people who hadn't worked together. The idea that CIA was going to successfully get buses that would rendezvous in Tehran once the hostages had been plucked out from the crew, taken in from helicopters, abandon the helicopter, get everybody on buses, take them over, where they were going to be airlifted out by C-130s flying in to get them out—I kept asking, "What's the assessment of success?" The first one, from the chiefs, was "About 25%." That was very unwelcome at the White House—Brzezinski, Odom, et al. My exchange of Odom that I reported earlier, said, "Don't you understand? This is critical for reelection of the president." I don't think the Iranians had that in mind at the outset of the taking of the embassy, but it may well have played—it did play in, clearly at the end, toward their hostility toward Carter, and it was the actual Desert One operation I think pushed them into doing anything they could to ensure his defeat. ZIERLER: Were you aware of any back-channel communications from the Reagan campaign to the Iranians? INMAN: I have heard the stories of that all along the way, including the rumor that they had sent George H.W. Bush to Rome to do the interaction to persuade him to hold off and not make a deal. I absolutely could say that was totally false, never occurred. Were there discussions inside the Reagan campaign about whether—? I don't doubt that there probably were some, but I was never able to find any that were valid. Their rumors were much more that there was going to be another military operation, and they spread that rumor widely, because they were hearing from people inside the military who did want to try one, to plan it. But I never found credible evidence of actual talk with Iranians. I found talks with Iranian exiles, who would tell you whatever you wanted to hear, as we came to learn painfully a decade later. ZIERLER: Do you think that the so-called threat from Reagan, that he would turn Iran into a parking lot on day one of his administration, that was credible or that was a real threat? INMAN: I don't think it was credible. I don't think they really believed it was a valid threat. As with a lot of statements of President Reagan—candidate Reagan, President Reagan—his rhetoric was more forceful than his actions. ZIERLER: How then do you understand the timing of the hostage release as it related to the transition of administrations? INMAN: Negotiations. Carter had met what the Iranians had asked for, but they were determined not to let him get credit, and that's why they held the planes at the end of the runway in Tehran until he was no longer president. ZIERLER: From a geostrategic perspective, when was it good policymaking to think about the crises in Iran and Afghanistan in tandem, and when did it make sense to treat these crises separately? INMAN: The key, I believe, was in who's perpetrating the challenge. The administration was focused on the Soviets, expansion of the Soviet empire. Recognizing the turmoil in Afghanistan, what was going to happen. And remember, we were undertaking, organizing the covert operation to increase the pain for the Soviets in terms of Afghanistan. We were not eager to confuse that with negotiating with the Iranians, where the Soviets played no role, to extract the hostages. I don't perceive that there was ever any interaction between the two efforts, but I can't account for what Brzezinski might have had in mind or talked about. ZIERLER: How did you understand the very beginning of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980 and how it would affect both the crises in Afghanistan and Iran? INMAN: There had long been squabbles over the Shatt al-Arab, largely because there was a lot of oil there underneath it, and who was going to over time pump it and ship it out. Plus, you had the egotism of Saddam Hussein. Remember, he's just really using all of this to become the supreme leader. When he took over in 1968, it had been a team of which he was just one of the players. He had steadily accrued until he was the supreme player in that process. I think I'd characterize it as over-aggressiveness on both sides to deal with grievances, and it stretched on, as you know, for years. The U.S. decision to provide targeting information support to the Iraqis was clearly a vestige of the taking of the hostages. All the hostages were out; the Iranians still never paid the price for the most catastrophic violation of Geneva [Accords] for diplomacy. I think that as distasteful as Saddam Hussein was—I can remember hearing the expression multiple times, "It's a shame they can't both lose." ZIERLER: [laughs] Bob, what about the old adage with regard to Saddam Hussein—"He might be an SOB, but he's our SOB"? INMAN: There might have been some people who wistfully thought that, but he was not ever going to be anybody else's. Megalomaniac, determined to be seen as "the leader" of the Arab world, and he certainly wasn't going to be portrayed as a tool of the U.S. government. ZIERLER: Before we move on to the Reagan administration and what this meant for the next chapter of your career, some overall questions with regard to the NSA. We talked a little bit about the Church Committee. I wonder from your own perspective, your own understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what did this mean when the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978 was passed, and the limit of mass surveillance in the United States? What did that mean for you as somebody who was sworn to uphold the Constitution? INMAN: Strongly in favor of it. Go back to Executive Order 11905 under Ford, which laid out responsibilities, and you'll see very clearly that the intelligence services across the board were not to be used for collecting information on U.S. citizens if they were not involved in criminal activity. The whole purpose of the FISA Act was to bring judicial review rather than political review of decisions to collect inside the U.S. but against foreign entities. I spent a lot of time in later years looking back at shortcomings, mistakes. We dealt much earlier with the shooting down of the EC-121 off Korea. I was so focused on what you needed to be able to do with foreign diplomatic and trade organizations in the U.S. It was all focused on the states. There was zero thought to what about private entities, non-state actors. That's because at that stage, al-Qaeda was not perceived as a threat to coming into the United States, or anybody else. So, two shortcomings. One, not including an option to look for non-state actors. And two, you had to go get a warrant for each activity. Well, when you were dealing with landlines, that was simple—you got the warrant, you went into the switching center and hooked onto the dedicated line servicing that embassy or consulate, collected the data. Cell phones were something new, just popping up, and the fact that somebody might shift cell phones along the way was just not there in the imagination, so there was no provision in the Act to let you go after that. That's why, when President George W. Bush asked, and General Hayden, the director of NSA, gave him, two days after 9/11—"Are there others here waiting to attack?" "Well, we don't know, but we can't collect against them." I suggested to Hayden that he ought to go to the select committees, [identify the] shortfalls, and get them to modify the Act. Cheney popped up and said, "You don't need to do that. The president can authorize it. That whole Act was just Inman covering his backside. We don't need it." They did indeed proceed until James Comey stopped going forward with it two years later. In the interim, I continued my dialogue with Mike Hayden, so he went to see the Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle. Daschle told him he could not get an amendment through Congress without exposing the entire program, so it died until they came back two years later. I think Daschle was wrong. We never had any exposure of the actual programs when getting FISA enacted. Good efforts by Warren Rudman and Joe Biden, and again, the majority leader and minority leader supporting it. So I think it could have been done, but it wasn't, so we operated for two years without judicial oversight of the expanded coverage. ZIERLER: Do you recall any dramatic moments where you felt conflicted between maintaining the Constitution and the will of the Congress but also making sure that the NSA's full capabilities were being fully utilized to protect the United States? INMAN: The answer was no, but it comes up—I'm sitting in Austin. Bob Gates has withdrawn his nomination for DCI. Bill Webster has been called to move from heading the FBI to go be the DCI. He called me at 8:00 in the morning—"Why aren't you taking this job? Why am I getting called?" I said, "I've done mine. I'm through." Suddenly by noon, there would begin to be all sort of things coming out of the White House—"Webster hasn't accepted the offer." He called me again about 2:00 in the afternoon to say, "Bobby, I'm a man of the law, my entire adult life. Can I do the job for the country that is required, abiding by U.S. law?" My answer was, "Absolutely. You'll be violating the laws of other countries every day, but you can do it within the Constitution, and you can go get changes to the law where you need expanded." FISA. The ability to try people—not to be blackmailed by releasing unrelated classified [information]. We talked about it earlier. I felt that same way when I was serving. Now, what we haven't dealt with at all in this dialogue is the rise of public cryptography and the widespread media interest in that, ultimately, along the way. I relieved Lew Allen on the 5th of July in 1977 as the director. One-day turnover. That day or the next day, Mr. Meyer, GS-14 in the engineering [directorate] had wrote a letter to the IEEE telling them that all this cryptology research being done in academic settings violated the law. There was an explosion of media coverage, so I had to pretty quickly find out, what was public cryptography? What was all this furor about? NSA had a monopoly on building encryption devices, approving them. Particularly a lot of them were being sold out on the international marketplace in various countries. I tried to understand, was this really a challenge to the NSA's monopoly? I found some inside who thought it was a great threat, some of which who said, "It's overblown, not really a challenge. All the real expertise is here on building codes, and our British counterparts at GCHQ." I had hired Dan Silver. We've gone through this before, because I went out to Berkeley to go into the heart of criticism and then made the decision while I was out there to go down to Stanford to meet Marty Hellman, who was another one of the researchers [whose work was] viewed as a threat. To come out of that, mostly with the help of Heyman, who was the vice chancellor at Berkeley, that we needed to set up a system of peer review. Jack Peltason agreed to provide the forum. Dick Atkinson who was the head of the National Science Foundation agreed to fund it. Out of that came the peer review process that private sector, before publishing, would send what they planned to publish on cryptography to NSA, and NSA had 60 days—no burying it—they had 60 days, and they had to respond. If they proposed changes, they had to be willing to clear the individual to explain why. That process worked for a decade, and then the internet exploded, and suddenly the vast uses for cryptography just mushroomed, so you went to public key cryptography and all the others that we see now. The monopoly would have been overrun anyway with the technology's advancement, but it was a critical period. The issue with the media was to persuade them that we weren't trying to protect spying on U.S. citizens, which was inevitably—the only reason you try and do this is if you're spying on U.S. citizens and you want that to be precluded. But we were watching, as better encryption became available, in the public marketplace. People who were willing to spend the money for it were the criminal elements, the drug dealers. They were making such profits they quickly were willing to buy encryption for their voice communications and the rest of it, to keep the FBI and DEA from tracking what they were doing. U.S. corporations were much more reluctant to spend the money without clear evidence that they were losing profit et al. You look back from this vantage point, second guessing—Chinese ability to go in and take out a Lockheed, all the detailed plans for the F-35, which they then used to build their J-20, to understand what wasn't visible at all in 1978, 1979, 1980, about the need to protect proprietary information as well as classified information. That was a decade, two decades before [all this] burst on the scene. ZIERLER: For American scientists, U.S. researchers, what way did the First Amendment influence your reaction to these developments, about what could and could not be discussed as it relates to cryptography? INMAN: Sources and methods. Is this going to impact on our ability to collect intelligence judged by others to be of genuine value to the U.S. government, critical in some cases? And was it harming U.S. citizens in the process? With the answer to both of those being "no." There would be those who disagreed with that judgment, but they also didn't have access to what was being produced, or to have the view of the consumers of how valuable it was, including presidents all the way down, national security advisors, chairmen of joint chiefs, et al. So it was a frustrating argument. I had concluded when I took the NSA job—I had been told by members of Congress, "You need to be more public. You need to have a public persona." But when I'd go out to make speeches, the first question I would get is, "Are you spying on me?" ZIERLER: [laughs] INMAN: This was following the Church Committee and the Pike Committee. Then it was refueled by the public cryptography debate, so it was a challenge to establish credibility. Have we dealt earlier with Carter, Griffin Bell, Harold Brown, The New York Times? ZIERLER: No. INMAN: We were producing intelligence on a then-friendly country. Their representative in Washington had been delivering envelopes to some members of Congress. When they went traveling overseas, they afforded them sexual pleasures et al. The attorney general got very interested in that, tracking it, had the FBI try to pursue. It got referred to the speaker, then to the Ethics Committee. Two days after it got to the Ethics Committee, a newspaper in Ohio had the story, but it didn't get widely circulated. It was circulating in Washington. Then as there was specific evidence of which congressman was informing the embassy of what was occurring, that story leaked from the Hill to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. A Wall Street Journal reporter looking at it thought this could be pretty sensitive and went to his fellow correspondent to the Defense Department and asked, if they published the story, would it be damaging? The assistant secretary of Public Affairs, and the DOD General Counsel, both convened with me; it would be very damaging, but extract how the government knew, and it was not damaging. So the Journal story was published. The New York Times, furious that they got scooped, did a column the next day, in the center of the front-page reporting NSA involvement. The country involved changed all its codes within 36 hours, and no longer any flow of information for the attorney general trying to pursue the case. Breakfast meeting, the president, attorney general, secretary of Defense—after Griffin Bell had found out that the country had changed its codes and we could no longer provide—the president called Sulzberger, the publisher [of the Times], and wanted to send a team to tell him the damage they had done. The team was the DOD general counsel, and assistant secretary of Public Affairs, and the director of NSA. I had been authorized to lay out the whole story. I did. Sulzberger said, "Well, Admiral, if this is about censorship, we're going to fight it every step of the way." I said, "If it was about censorship, we wouldn't be here! We'd just be doing it." ZIERLER: [laughs] INMAN: "We wanted you to know the damage you did, that the Journal did not do, in describing how we knew." That led Sulzberger into then an interesting exchange with the editors. No reporters were there, just editors and Sulzberger. Out of it came, "Well, if we had somebody we could call at 7:30 in the evening when the paper is about to go to bed and say, ‘Would it be damaging if we said the following?' and get an answer"—and if the answer was they would need to hold it, talk a little bit about wording, but to not credit, then there would have to be a willingness the next day to expose to the editor and publisher as to why. We took it back, another breakfast. The attorney general urged the president to try it, and proposed Stan Turner, Carter's classmate. The president said, "No. But since Inman has done this one, let's try having Inman be the one to do it." Thus began a process that ran the rest of the Carter administration and was handed off, Brown to Weinberger, and continued until my resignation and departure 18 months into Reagan. It expanded pretty rapidly to the Journal, the Post, Newsweek, Time, U.S. News, L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, and the Christian Science Monitor. My handful. So I got a lot of calls. They all had my home phone number. I occasionally asked them to change wording, which they were perfectly willing to do. Only on one occasion did I ask them not to publish, and the next day they were exposed to the evidence. But one of the most prolific reporters for citing sources was named Bob Woodward. One day, Ben Bradlee told me, "One of these days, Woodward is going to write a book, and we aren't going to get to review it." ZIERLER: [laughs] INMAN: And that book was called The Veil. When you read the preface, Woodward said, "Where I was not a direct participant in the conversation, I have tried to reconstruct it as I think it most likely occurred." And it did reveal a lot. Two lessons out of it—determined leakers can find somebody with—Daniel Schorr, who set out to publish on the submarine reconnaissance program—CBS declined, and others, so he went to several of the print media. They all declined, so he went to the Village Voice, which did print. He got fired by CBS and became one of my harsher critics the rest of his life. Andrew Young, ambassador to the U.N., violated State Department rules by inviting the PLO representative to lunch at his quarters in the Waldorf. The fact of it went to the Times, to the LA. Times, to the Journal, to Newsweek, to the Post. Then, over seven weeks, it finally went to a publication that printed it. I can't remember now who it was; it may have been Rolling Stone, or something like that. Andrew Young got fired, and went back to be mayor of Atlanta et al. What was the lesson? Who was determined in that case? I will go to my grave persuaded it was the Israelis who wanted Young out for having met with the PLO, and they would persistently keep going to find somebody who would be willing to publish. Now, who else would, week after week after week, keep trying to sell to a different publication that story? It was another way I got engaged with policy, got exposed to a lot of editors. Came to enjoy the interaction with Bradlee, which led to Meg Greenfield and Kay Graham, the publisher. So it led to a lot of interaction with a lot of those people, on background. The L.A. Times was probably the quickest to respond positively. The Washington bureau chief of the L.A. Times came up to me at a party and said—we're now in the Reagan time, but I'll go ahead and finish this story, since we're at about the end of the day. He said, "You need to watch your backside." "Thank you. What do you mean?" He said, "Bill Safire." Safire had written several articles critical of me, [and had] come within two days after Goldwater blasted Casey. Then Safire would attack me for some misdeed that I had done. I said, "What's the connection?" He said, "Don't you realize Safire ran Casey's campaign for Congress when he—?" He knocked out the Goldwater supporter in the primary and then lost in the general election. So I confronted Casey. He said, "Oh, not a word of truth to it. I knew Safire but rarely talk to him—" Fast forward, call from Times bureau chief in Washington—"Bobby, can you help us get through to Bill Casey? Sulzberger is trying to return a call, and they keep calling the CIA op setter and they get a runaround. We've tried Safire's private number that he uses, and we're not getting an answer." It was private line into Casey's residence. The next day, I sent my letter, resigning. Interesting times. ZIERLER: [laughs] Last topic for today's talk, just some overall questions in thinking about your legacy leading the NSA. To return back to this idea of the perfidies of the intelligence community, from the Nixon administration, to what extent did you come into the NSA with a mandate for restoring faith in the NSA, restoring faith in the intelligence community? INMAN: Do you see that? [pointing to an award plaque on his wall] ZIERLER: Yeah. INMAN: I just brought it to this office because I'm packing. Tomorrow will be my last day in the campus office. "National Security Agency, 2017, Hall of Honor Inductee, Admiral Bobby R. Inman, USN. Transformative director, dynamic leader, visionary. Over the four years beginning in 1977 during which Admiral Bobby Inman was the director of NSA, the agency saw profound changes in practices and culture. Admiral Inman transformed NSA's internal operations and external relationships, championed innovative technical advances, and established a method of preparing leaders for their new roles that still serves NSA today. He oversaw major technical improvements to NSA operations, including overhead collection, remote collection, and signals processing. In the tense period after the Congressional investigations of the mid 1970s, Admiral Inman played a crucial role in helping both NSA and Congressional committees adjust to the new environment of Congress in NSA's operations. His vision and leadership had a dramatic and lasting impact on the NSA." I was only the second director to be inducted, the first being General Canine, the founding director. As you can tell, it's a matter of a lot of pride. It's now going to get hung somewhere here in this office. But that captures somebody else's view of what I accomplished in those 44 months. ZIERLER: In thinking about the technical advances, in what ways did you modernize, bring NSA into the modern era? INMAN: Spent a lot of money advancing the state of computing, advancing communications, and protecting—protecting our own codes and cycles. But mostly—there are lots of stories that I really am not comfortable telling, but it was using evolving technology. We were into artificial intelligence in those years, where you're going to leave something behind to listen, and you didn't want its entire capacity to be used up in a month when you were not going to pick it up for six months. AI included when it would turn on, when it would shut off, key words, things along the way. It worked terrifically until programs got compromised later. So, state-of-the-art advancement of the technology, applied to collection, processing, dissemination, and to support analysts, translators, and particularly to enhance our ability to attack codes and cyphers in other countries. ZIERLER: In the impetus to improve the esprit de corps at the NSA, did you see positive feedback from a recruitment perspective, that the best and the brightest were now more interested in working for the NSA than they might otherwise have been? INMAN: I don't think I can say I enhanced it; I sustained it. NSA had always been attractive to mathematicians and scientists because they were working out at the cutting edge of their professions. There were a small fringe of non-performers or people you had to not get caught in the stampede at 4:30 to rush out the doors. My bigger problem was to get them to go home, particularly if we were in a crisis, when they'd stay for—clearly they were getting exhausted, and their families—I found I sometimes had to push them to leave work, to go get a little personal respite. It really enhanced the reputation of NSA broadly, in the Congress, and with some of the media. Some of the media was always basically hostile, because we were not giving them what they wanted. "What's the scoop? What's happening? What do you know today?" I did not make a lot of campus appearances. When I did, it was primarily with faculty, et al. It remains the best job I ever had. ZIERLER: Finally, as a segue to our next talk, as it became apparent that President Carter's reelection prospects were faltering, what did that mean for you in real time, for the next stage in your career? INMAN: Really nothing at the time. Continuity, because I had dealt with Ford, dealt with Carter. I would deal with whoever the next president was. But the point, there had been a longstanding gentleman's agreement among Naval Intelligence senior officers that there were usually only two or at most three flag slots for an intelligence specialist, and if you did not get a third star, you would go at the end of four years. If you got a third star, you would go in five. Here I am at seven years, approaching, because I had been picked up so early and promoted. So what was in my mind once I finished this was, what was I going to do next, in retirement? Going to be the deputy at CIA was certainly not on that calendar. Both because it was time to move on, and I was blocking promotion opportunity for people coming up. ZIERLER: On that note, we'll pick up for the Reagan administration next time. [End of Recording] ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, December 6th, 2021. Once again, I am so happy to be back with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, as always, a great pleasure to be with you, sir. INMAN: Thank you, David. ZIERLER: We're going to start right at the beginning of the Reagan administration. To start off, tell me what that meant when Reagan came into the White House. What did that mean for the intelligence community generally, and what did it mean for you specifically? INMAN: For me, it meant a new job which I didn't want. It meant a fourth star, which was a very nice reward for having agreed to do it, and a pretty tumultuous 18 months with the new administration before I embarked off to begin my new life in the private sector. I've already recounted for you the call from the president after I had turned down three approaches to be the deputy director of CIA, deputy director of Central Intelligence. I went through confirmation, which was pretty gentle, with Senator Goldwater and vice chairman Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan presiding. Separately, it had to touch the Armed Services Committee for the fourth star. All that went smoothly, confirmed on I guess the 12th of February, because I went out on the 13th and assumed the role as deputy. That space had been vacant because Frank Carlucci had left a month earlier to go be confirmed and then sworn in as the deputy secretary of Defense. I remained the director of NSA until 30 March 1981, so I followed what I had watched Admiral Rickover do, sending letters from the Navy to the Department of Energy, and from the Department of Energy to the Navy, and I saw the number of conflicts between CIA and NSA in that seven-week overlap that I was able to resolve. Traditionally, the director of Central Intelligence deals with the outside world, and the deputy runs CIA. Casey wanted to do exactly the opposite, but with modifications. He wanted to run the clandestine service. He wanted to run the analytical activities. He wanted minimal interaction with science and technology and administration, and as little as he could get away with in dealing with the Congress, the other intelligence agencies, et al. Even though he had asked for and got Cabinet rank, he exceedingly rarely went to any Cabinet meeting, interagency meeting. He would go if it was related to covert operations. Other than that, it fell to me, so I ended up over the next year and a half going to a great many Cabinet meetings, National Security Planning Group meetings, NSC meetings. I had been in the job about three or four weeks when I got a call that the president wanted to see me. I jumped in the car with my driver and raced down to the White House. When I got there, I found Frank Carlucci was also there. He had been summoned. We were ushered into the Oval Office. The president was charming. He got right to the point, saying, "Bobby, Bill tells me you're going to be doing all the budgeting for the community." I told him that was my assignment. He said, "Fine. Rebuild the intelligence community and spend as much money as you need to spend doing that. Frank, you find where to put in the defense budget anything Bobby asks for." We both said, "Aye-aye, sir" and departed. With that clarity of guidance, I pulled some talented people into the intelligence community staff, which was housed down in an old building near the old Executive Office Building on F Street. It had been headquarters for the draft board over many years. I set out to build a five-year plan on how you would go about rebuilding all elements of the intelligence community, and, recalling that back in my days as a briefer, a good half of the material I used for those morning briefings with Admiral Burke would be reporting from the State Department, political officers, economic officers, cultural affairs officers, what they were encountering. I knew how badly they had been drawn down over the period from 1967 to 1981. I offered Secretary Haig I would add 2,000 foreign service officers, paying for them out of the intelligence community budget. He thought that sounded very exciting. Then he called me two days later to say he had to back out; he had run into hard objections inside the Department. They didn't want anything to do with being in the intelligence budget. Two years from now, that would either have gone away, or the administration is changed, and they would have to absorb all the costs in the State Department budget. Secondly, there were separate subcommittees of appropriations. The intel budget was in the Defense subcommittee. State's was in the subcommittee that did NASA and a number of other things. They didn't want to cross over. The opportunity to help rebuild the Foreign Service evaporated very quickly, but we did a lot of other rebuilding. I found out to my dismay that in the drawdown over the previous decade, training establishments had been curtailed. When I wanted to add substantial numbers to the clandestine service, particularly non-official cover, I found the training establishment had been drawn down. It simply couldn't accommodate the numbers of new people. So it was a long process of expanding training and then moving to recruit additional people. Easier on the analytical side, and across all the agencies, we were able to expand analytical talent, except INR [Bureau of Intelligence and Research] at State, which couldn't accept—which is sad. In going to all the Cabinet meetings and the NSC meetings, it gave me the opportunity to observe the president firsthand and to watch his interaction with his principals and of course also to renew my relationship with the now new vice president, George H.W. Bush. I knew that there was intense animosity between DCI Casey and the vice president, going back to the Republican Party politics. Casey didn't want to have Bush to have any presence, role, anything, around CIA. But the vice president was still very curious about how things were going, so I agreed to meet with him in what started out as a once-a-week session down at the old Executive Office Building, just sort of bringing him up to date on what was happening. What I didn't know was that Casey got every day the schedule of the president and the vice president, and he instantly objected to my going to see the vice president, so we had to work it a little differently, for the vice president to specifically ask for my presence. It didn't appear on the schedule, and I would go down and spend time with him. Always useful. ZIERLER: What was your sense of where President Reagan was coming from when he gave you this blank check to build up the agency as you saw fit? Was that a particular advisor? Was that a world view? Where was he coming from with this? INMAN: That was a world view. He had been told how much it had been drawn down over the previous decade and he was eager to get full credit for rebuilding. Watching him at Cabinet and NSC, I was sitting at the end of the table, so I had an angle-straight view towards seeing him. Fairly early, I noted a process. He would be sort of smiling, nodding, but it wasn't when a point was being made. With about ten minutes left to go in the meeting, Ed Meese would interrupt whatever was happening and ask a question. The president would pick up his pencil. Meese would do three or four questions in rapid fire, in fact cutting him off if the answers were too long. Then the president would summarize the meeting. What he summarized were the answers to Meese's questions, so he had been, in my view, daydreaming. That's why he didn't worry about how long some meetings were going on, because he was counting on Meese to do that, and then to draw out what was the essence of the meeting. Now, there were other meetings when he got readily engaged. I on occasion felt brazen enough to express an opinion. The president stated in a comment that nothing good for the U.S. had ever come from arms control agreements. I said, "Mr. President, I'd like to take a different view." "Well, sure. Tell me." I said the limits on how many missiles you could have on different platforms had caused the Soviets to put a lot of effort on mobile ICBMs, which we could target, as well as the—much easier than the thick silos and it declined the number that they put in the submarine launch, SSBNs. He said, "Nobody has ever told me that!" He then over the year that followed, would repeat, "We got some good in influencing the way they deploy their strategic forces." The point here—he was quick to pick up and understand, but not naturally curious to go probe. It was quite a contrast from Carter, who had wanted every detail, to count the trees instead of the forest. The president was unfailingly polite, but one of the agreements, when he came into office, of the chief of staff with Mrs. Reagan, was that they could have ten hours of his day, period, and if there was going to be an evening event, that came out of the ten hours. Out to protect his health. Now, there was a lot of complaints. Frankly, I think it was very effective, because Baker then pushed—meetings ran for an hour. They didn't run on endlessly. If they didn't need an hour, they got less than that, as with the quick meeting that Frank Carlucci and I had with the president on setting up investment in the community. At the Cabinet meetings and the National Security Council meetings, and even the National Security Planning Group meetings—that was the group required from Congress to formally review a covert operation and take a formal acceptance of it—Baker, Meese, and Deaver were present at all of those. Casey didn't particularly like that, but that was the fact of life, he got very quickly. Baker, he found the triumvirate both effective and also supportive for him. Mike Deaver was incredibly close to Nancy Reagan, so if there was any sign of potential problems with the First Lady, he'd have Mike Deaver go solve that. The president trusted Ed Meese, his views, his opinions. That's why he was there as a counselor. The national security advisor reported to the president through Meese. Richard Allen. That stopped when Judge Clark came over. Clark became the national security advisor; he had direct access, because he had been the president's chief of staff in Sacramento and then chief justice of the California Supreme Court before coming to be deputy secretary of state for a year, and then national security advisor. An interesting pattern began to develop. The Reagans would always go out to Palm Springs, to Sunnylands, the Annenberg estate, for the New Year's holiday. There would be quite a gathering of the kitchen cabinet, et al. That's where decisions were made about changing people. At that first gathering, the decision to replace Richard Allen and to bring Judge Clark over from State. When Clark came, he asked to bring with him a counselor for Al Haig named Bud McFarlane, who had been at the NSC staff with Kissinger and Haig. I played another role then. I had developed a good friendship with John Lehman, who was secretary of the Navy. This was while I'm still at NSA and then at Langley. I had recommended to Lehman that he bring up to be head of program appraisal for the secretary of the Navy John Poindexter, very bright rear admiral, quite a scholar, had been the administrative assistant to the secretary of the Navy when John Warner was secretary, then had gone on to sea, had gotten selected for rear admiral, and was down at the training command as the number two. Lehman decided he would meet with Poindexter and make a decision given the chemistry. He set out to do it. He was going down for a launch at Cape Canaveral. He invited Richard Allen to go with him down to watch the launch. So Poindexter comes over to be interviewed by Lehman, but he ends up also being interviewed by Allen, who instantly asks Lehman to assign Poindexter to the White House, to the NSC staff. That's how John Poindexter got to the White House. The next year at Sunnylands, Clark wanted out—the judgment was that he wasn't doing that well—to go be secretary of Interior, where he was much more comfortable. Bud McFarlane moves up to be the national security advisor, and John Poindexter becomes the deputy national security advisor. Eighteen months later, when McFarlane is totally out of steam and leaves office, Poindexter moves up to be the national security advisor. Now, let me come back and fill in some spaces here. When the president was being briefed, he didn't always ask sharp questions, but Baker would, as well as Meese. I think that kept a lot of things on track that might have otherwise fallen by the wayside. I contrast it—Baker wanted out of the job, second term, so he exchanged jobs with Don Regan. Baker would be secretary of Treasury; Regan came to be chief of staff. He did not serve the president well, in my view, whereas Baker—the famous incident here is, did the president know about the flow of funds to Iran-Contra from selling missiles to Iran? My long-term speculation is that he probably heard but didn't know the details. ZIERLER: We'll come to Iran-Contra in more detail. I'd like to go back to, for you and your transition, as you mentioned earlier, going to the agency to serve as deputy director was not a job you wanted. Was your plan, was your trajectory, did you want to stay at NSA for the beginning of the Reagan administration? INMAN: I would have stayed at NSA for years. Jim Schlesinger had proposed that they leave me there for eight years, which was a wonderful idea, but frankly, I planned to retire in the summer of 1981. I had been flag officer at that point seven and a half years, blocking the promotion opportunity for intel, especially because there weren't that many slots allocated to the intelligence world. But my real encounter of what life was going to be like was in dealing with the transition team while I was still the director of NSA. That was my first encounter with Richard Allen. Summoned to come down to the transition offices and then for him to tell me that they had had Count de Marenches, [former head of French external intelligence] out in California to brief the president-elect, and he had told Governor Reagan that he would be tested militarily by the Soviets in his first year in office, and it would likely occur in Central America. What did I think of that? I said I thought it was garbage. That yeah, we had Nicaragua, we had Cuba helping arm the Ortega crowd, transferring hardware to them, but I did not see any signs of a direct Soviet effort to expand and have facilities or access in Nicaragua. To which Allen said, "Well, that's what we were told to expect you would say." ZIERLER: [laughs] INMAN: Carter had approved a covert finding related to Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, aimed at limiting any shipment of arms from Nicaragua up into the other countries to support any insurgency. There were reports that there would be substantial effort to move into those two countries. Early on, based on de Marenches' testing, the decision was made and Casey pushed to substantially upgrade the covert operation in Central America. To do that, the new formation was that rather than diplomatic efforts, you would in fact put agents all along the borders with Nicaragua. Dewey Clarridge was the South American area chief for the Clandestine Service. He told Director Casey he could solve that problem quickly, and he contacted the junta in Buenos Aires and asked to have 500 of the Contras that they were supporting to work for CIA, to interdict the flow of arms. They couldn't be happier to provide, and within two weeks, Dewey Clarridge was able to go back and report up the line and to the president, that they've already got 500 people assigned to work on that problem. Fast action. Fast forward a year and a half, Falklands War, the Junta falls and suddenly the U.S. discovers they've got 2,500 Contras, not 500, to financially support. You know how that story plays out, trying to find resources while Congressman Boland is busy trying to cut off all the funding for Contra forces. ZIERLER: Did you see the move over to CIA as a lateral move, or was it a step up? INMAN: Lateral. It had a fourth star, and it did have oversight for the entire community, but particularly the way it was structured, I did not have operational control of any of the significant activities. That's not quite true; I did a science and technology directorate, a lot of good things going on there. That's the interaction with the National Reconnaissance Office, et al. Technical collection, which was not a big part of the CIA, but it was not in the clandestine service, it was under S&T, so that did fall to me. But it was most optimistically a lateral move. ZIERLER: What did you learn about the intelligence interagency process as DDCI that you might not have seen as director of NSA? INMAN: I learned of more points of potential conflict. Duplication of activities. That's what I set out with that letter exchange between the two agencies in my first seven weeks, and combined special collection activities that—I'm treading on some sort of sensitive ground here, but I put together a joint organization and to manage all that, gave them a lot of money, some brand new equipment to significantly upgrade what they could do, and set in process—the NSA director, CIA deputy, for the first two years, then to reverse. That continued even to the present time. So it took away a conflict, put in its place a joint service that attracted bright people and did some very good work over time. The first head of it would later go on some years later—he was one of those 81 I had identified at NSA as water walkers, and he would later go on to be a deputy director of NSA. So some of these have a pretty long lifespan. I would get involved to some degree on what was going on in the clandestine service when I would have to go to NSPG with Casey, but more importantly when Congress insisted that I come with him to testify in closed sessions on the Hill. That was simply the fact that Goldwater and Moynihan didn't trust Casey at all. In a strange visit—John Stein was the DDO, the head of clandestine service; Clair George was his deputy—they came to see me one morning. Could I please find out and tell them what was going on between Casey and Dewey Clarridge? Dewey wouldn't tell him what he was doing, said he was not authorized by the DCI to tell him. So I set out to try to find out. There was a door between our two offices, and I would occasionally just walk in, particularly when I knew Clarridge was there. He wouldn't tell me to leave. But that's where I discovered Clarridge was in contact with one of Ortega's lieutenants who wanted to defect. Clarridge working with Casey was arranging to facilitate that and to put him in Costa Rica as his base. Well, with the expanded cost et al, all still being charged against interdicting the flow of arms into El Salvador and Honduras. A little hard for me to comprehend how somebody down on the southern border in opposition—and clearly the Contras had always wanted to go overthrow the Ortega government in Nicaragua, and this looked to me like notwithstanding that it was not in the finding, unauthorized, that it was a move in that direction. When I raised questions about it separately, one on one with Casey, he proceeded to lecture me that I was too intent on my interpretation of the law, and not willing to give any sort of middle ground. I said I had been through Church and Pike, and I had gotten legislation through that we needed, but that I felt very strongly that our credibility with the Congress, critical for budget, for money to flow, was that we were honest with them, that we weren't playing a game. I didn't make a lot of headway. I still have, as I reach down, when I'm a little distracted and the rest of it, I'll pull up my socks. When Goldwater went ahead and insisted that I come with Casey, and Casey is testifying and I'm very uncomfortable with his answers, I'm wiggling around, and I pull up my socks. That got translated into a deal where I was signaling Goldwater and Moynihan that they weren't being told the truth. It ended up getting published in the newspapers, in one of the gossip columns. I said, "That's not valid. I don't do that." To which Casey said, "Oh yes you do." ZIERLER: [laughs] INMAN: It was unintentional, but it was interpreted that you need to zero in hard. When the president approached me, I had said, "Hopefully no more than 18 months to two years." He agreed. But my decision to put in the letter and to implement 18 months came out of the Casey/Clarridge activities in Central America. ZIERLER: What was your reporting structure like to Bill Casey? How often would you meet with him? INMAN: We would have breakfast with Al Haig once a week, and we would have breakfast with Caspar Weinberger once a week. If there was a National Security Planning Group meeting, we'd both be at that. Short of that, there was no regularly scheduled meeting, but we would get together, particularly on human resource issues. I found the two offices didn't communicate at all and the flow of paper left a lot to be desired. I recommended to Casey pretty early on that he bring Bob Gates back up to the front office, but in a different role; put him in charge of both offices. It worked. Gifted writer, and Casey saw the improvement in the flow of materials coming through, quickly. Plus, Gates would read all of the proposed National Intelligence Estimates that were coming up, and offer suggestions—editing suggestions, not changing the conclusions. One famous one that ends up causing problems later, a guy named Goodman, who had previously, was years younger, had been Gates' boss and could never accept that Gates had been promoted over and then continued to move up, based on ability—Goodman had sent in this long treatise of which Casey had written across it, "This is a bunch of crap." It wasn't disagreement with the facts and the judgment; it was that it rambled on and on and on. Casey had written books, had made his personal fortune writing books on how to avoid paying taxes, before ever going to the SEC, so he considered himself a first-rate editor and writer. That plays into the dialogue he had begun without knowledge of any of us with Bob Woodward, who would come to have breakfast at Casey's residence. It turns out, we find out months later, Casey would let him read his notes! Now, why is he doing all that? My sense was he wanted Woodward's approbation of Casey as an author and as a writer. But it was one of the many strange relationships. Early, Casey had decided he wanted to bring in an outsider to head the DDO, and he brought Max Hugel, who was a sewing machine seller in New England who had been part of the campaign and reported directly to Casey. Casey brought Hugel down to be the DDO, and it was a disaster. Finally, painful meeting, Gates orchestrated, Gates and I told him bluntly Hugel had to go. He was undercutting the relationships with the Hill, for budgets and the rest of it. So he was fired, and that's when John Stein took over and Clair George. But that was I guess in the first six months of time. ZIERLER: At the strategic level, did you see Reagan's ramping up of the military budget as a different side of the same coin of his interest in ramping up intelligence spending? INMAN: Yeah. I think I had already forecasted a little of that at one of our earlier sessions when I described the interaction with David Stockman, head of OMB, when we had a meeting at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles in August of 1981. Stockman suddenly wants to cut the defense budget to deal with the domestic problems, and Weinberger simply asked to meet with the president separately and the budget was restored. Reagan was determined to significantly rebuild—and at the outset, it was to accelerate what had already started under Harold Brown, Bill Perry, of a focus on precision guided weapons, stealth, by strengthening our conventional force capabilities as well as numbers. Parallel, back to Edward Teller—shows up in Washington, comes to see me, because Casey wouldn't see him, and he had this great idea about taking weapons out into space. I told him I didn't really have a role in that; you need to sell it at Defense. He was always trying, but he was having trouble getting in to the right people there. At any rate, the next thing I knew, he had gone to Jay Keyworth who was the science advisor, and had gotten in to see the president, and thus was born Star Wars. The president was excited about it, didn't go challenge the technical—would it work or not work. He was simply eager to do anything that would take us away from mutually assured destruction. From many years removed and looking back, he was probably as effective in the activity on dealing with deception. Most of us who looked at it concluded it wouldn't work. You couldn't detect early enough in the launch cycle and differentiate between multiple reentry vehicles and decoys to be able to nail them out in the exo-atmospheric regime. You couldn't do it in that early first third of the flight. You were going to end up destroying your own satellites that were providing you warning. There was pretty quick agreement, defense and intelligence community, that it was a wonderful scheme, but it wasn't going to work. But the Soviets believed it would, and their worry about a breakthrough that would dramatically reduce their comparative advantage in the missile space served a useful purpose. They concluded that they couldn't effectively match the defense spending and the so-called Star Wars spending and that they were going to be relegated to secondary status. I think it probably hastened an ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union, because it put more stress on the economy than it could in fact accomplish. ZIERLER: Were you aware of all of the scientific misgivings among physicists as to the feasibility of Star Wars? INMAN: Yeah. I went to check with my friends, early, and got a full case on why they thought it was just another Teller fantasy and would not work. I was always surprised that Jay Keyworth had latched onto it and took him in to see the president. I would say from the long distance, it was useful, helpful in ultimately how our relationships evolved. It made Gorbachev and company far more willing to enter into restrictive arms control agreements than they might have been otherwise. They were so eager to avoid it being deployed. I guess the other story—I think I made reference to it earlier—I had put in my letter, and I made a choice to send my letter of request of resignation and retirement directly to the president, with copies to Casey, Weinberger, and Haig. Casey was infuriated, demanded I withdraw it, which I refused to do. It added to a pretty chilly atmosphere on the seventh floor. I continued doing my job. It happened to be a pretty busy time for Congressional hearings on budget, et al. All false modesty aside, managed to persuade Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee to approve all the things we wanted to add, so the rebuilding got underway with a flourish. I was comfortable, because it was a five-year plan, that it would be sustained. I didn't need to be there for it to be sustained. ZIERLER: What was your involvement in the rapid expansion of the covert program in Afghanistan? INMAN: Sideline observer. That was Casey's baby. He used to carry around his maps showing in red all of the Soviet Union but all of the countries where he thought they were the predominant influence in activities. Steve Coll later did a superb book on Afghanistan. In that book, he alleges that there were a couple of instances where the covert operators went across the border into Central Asian republics that were still part of the Soviet Union at that point. Frankly, I could easily believe it, with what I saw happening in Nicaragua and Central America. But none of that was visible in my time. What was visible was the effort to upgrade the quality and quantity of arms being provided to the guerrillas. You'll note the fine line here; these are not terrorists; they're guerrillas. They're guerrillas because they're targeting military, not civilians. But it was ultimately a decision that had a lot of opposition inside the government to provide the Stinger missiles, shoulder-fired, that began taking out the helicopters in a big way. That ultimately impacted on the Soviet decision to withdraw. I would go to the NSC meetings, the National Security Planning Group meetings, with Casey to testify, on the Hill on budgets. That's where I got the bulk of my knowledge of what was going on, not from being involved in—I was left out totally on the planning of what to do and how to do it. ZIERLER: Of course, Hollywood tells us about Charlie Wilson's involvement in all of this. What was your sense of how formative a figure he really was in the development of the covert program in Afghanistan? INMAN: Charlie Wilson was a wonderfully colorful character. Naval Academy graduate. Had been married, divorced by the time he left the Navy and when he went to Congress. When I retired and we were moving out of government quarters, we bought the condominium on the hill above the Iwo Jima memorial. There's now a much larger building built in front of it, but it had on its terrace a beautiful view straight lining up Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol. On the top floor of the building was a large unit owned by Charlie Wilson. Our sons, when they would be at home, always admired the traffic back and forth going to Charlie Wilson's place. Beautiful women, and so on. There was also an occasion when he had had a little too much to drink and was driving back across Key Bridge, had run into the edge of the bridge, left his car, hot-footed it on foot to his house, and refused to go downstairs when police came wanting to talk to him about it. Nothing ever happened out of it, because after they had finally gotten him to talk, he had sobered up, 12 or 14 hours later, so no drunk driving episode occurred out of it. Now, all of that was background. Charlie was serving on the Intelligence Committee in the House, and the House Armed Services Committee. It was through the Intel Committee largely that he was involved. When Congressional delegations would go to Pakistan, he would go. He had wonderful relationships with CIA until he wanted to take Miss World with him on the helicopter trip, and they wouldn't let him, so things got very chilly. That was before Joanne Herring became a big player in it, as well. Charlie was useful in making sure budgets covered the costs, and he was constantly urging for the U.S. to take a more active role, not just relying on the mujahideen, who by this point were no longer just Afghan refugees. There began to be a number of Arab jihadists who had joined the ranks. I know much more about what went on from reading Steve Coll's book. What I could test, absolutely accurate, so he obviously had superb sources in writing that book. ZIERLER: What about next door in Iran? Was your sense that the Reagan administration accepted the Revolution was here to stay, or were there efforts to strongly oppose the ayatollahs and to restore something like the previous government? INMAN: There was substantial worry about where Iran was going. There were substantial conversations with Iranian exiles, looking for anyone or group that could be supported in a covert operation effort to overthrow the Iranian government. The judgment throughout was that there was nobody in exile who had the leadership skills and the rest to be able to pull it off, so it never got beyond the discussion and planning stage. There was never a finding, at least to the best of my knowledge—that would come after my time—to actually support an effort to do a coup. At that point Iran had not yet become active in supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon. All of that growth, spreading their influence across the Middle East comes later. At this stage of the game, Iran is largely focused internally. They have the war with Iraq going on, but there was nothing here that—and we've discussed in an earlier session the decision to provide intelligence support targeting to the Iraqis. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." The standard phrase I would hear a lot—"It's a shame they can't both lose." ZIERLER: I'm curious in what ways you felt that there was a mandate for CIA to be responsive to the so-called War on Drugs from the Reagan administration? INMAN: I can't recall any conversation related to the War on Drugs in that first 18 months. It may have been there. There had already been, and continued, focus on the growing production of heroin and cocaine in Colombia and Ecuador and Peru, but primarily Colombia, and the efforts which had already been underway to try to detect, interdict the flow. Other than requests for intelligence activities to identify what was happening where and how, I can't recall in my first 18 months that it ever rose to the occasion of a session with the president where either the Cabinet or NSC or National Security Planning Groups—that just may be a lapse in my own memory, but I don't recall any. I think the activities pick up as time goes on. When did Mrs. Reagan begin her "Just Say No" campaign? ZIERLER: It was a few years later, I believe. INMAN: Yeah. And that was pretty close to the defining how big a problem it was. ZIERLER: To go back to the origins of the Iran-Contra scandal, of course this really came to a head several years after you had left government, but from where you sat, what were some of the real fault lines, both administratively and legally, that had allowed this to develop in the years prior? INMAN: I started down this and then I diverted off in describing the difference between Jim Baker and Don Regan, and did the president know. My narrative is that in the morning session, Poindexter, the triumvirate, et al—of course the triumvirate had broken up by that point. Meese has gone to be attorney general, Deaver's alcohol problems had taken him out, and Baker is at Treasury. Poindexter, in his ten items, would say, "And, Mr. President, we have found a way to help out on the Contra problem" at which point the president would say, "Good." Jim Baker would have said, "How?" Don Regan, if the president had said, "Good," would say, "Great!" No questions. So Poindexter could feel very comfortable proceeding, doing what he thought was the right thing, but also don't burden the president with too much detail that might cause him a problem later. The whole cockamamie scheme of transferring missiles, money that somehow was going to help get hostages out of Lebanon, but in fact what was really happening was earning money out of that that could flow to the Contras, paid the cost of maintaining the Contras' activity. Now let's back way up. Casey and Clarridge kept looking for new ways to impact, and part of the scheme of how they were going to use the Costa Rica group was by sea. Then they concluded that what they ought to do was to go put mines in some of the harbors where the transit might be taking place. That's when Eddie Boland first blew the whistle. A mine had exploded. A commercial ship had been damaged. It surfaced that this was something that had been put in under the covert action, clearly not authorized explicitly. It was the first of several Congressional mandates that said, "No agency or department of the government can flow financial support to the Contras." No agency or department." That didn't mention the NSC, and you had a very enterprising marine lieutenant colonel named Oliver North. ZIERLER: Did you know North? INMAN: I met him, early, because he was the action officer in generating Congressional approval for selling the AWACS to Saudi Arabia over objections from the Israelis. He was a guy who would get things done. He's also the one who found in a filing cabinet the watches which had been given to Richard Allen as a gift, and he didn't turn them in to the State Department. He put them in a safe, instead. That sort of added to, "Here's an action officer who will get things done." I will go to my grave believing that Casey was Ollie North's case officer, that he knew everything he was doing, and therefore would have been fully knowledgeable of the whole Iran-Contra deal and what they were trying to accomplish. There were great efforts to make sure he didn't know. It becomes a factor for later when Gates' nomination as successor of whether he had been aware of it and not tried to stop the Iran-Contra deal. Gates insisted that he didn't know anything about it. Entirely plausible to me from my role as deputy director, where I was totally cut out of many of the things. It was only when I had gone to directly probe that I would find out any of the details. ZIERLER: Was your sense that Reagan had a moral imperative to free those hostages, and so even in very vague terms, he empowered his deputies to do what they needed to do? INMAN: Yeah. He never wanted to leave people behind. The military ethos often of "Leave no one behind." Pick up the bodies, the casualties. So even though he insisted that he had not made a deal of trading arms for hostages, in fact he had approved the deal that did precisely that, and didn't get—I guess got one hostage, and not the others, in the process. That's another example of the reality that he didn't ask for the details, really wasn't interested in the details. He wanted the broad picture, and he would get that quickly. I had started down the track earlier and then fell off, of—the Falklands War starts. Mrs. Thatcher asks to use Ascension Island. There's a sub-NSC meeting at which Jeane Kirkpatrick urged the president to refuse the use. It would destroy inter-American solidarity. That was enough to touch me off on my only other explosion in front of the president, and to say, "What solidarity? It doesn't exist. It's fiction. And therefore, we should support them." The president said, "Sorry, Jeane" and told the NSC to inform Mrs. Thatcher that they could have full use of Ascension Island. I never talked about that. When I went to pay my farewell calls in Britain before retiring in early June, I went to see Terry Lewin there, Chief of Defense Staff, an old friend. He knew all about it, and so did all the rest of them, and they were busy congratulating me. I have a letter, just happens to be near the top of the desk, from Chris Collins, who has been commissioned to write a book on the Falklands, to be entitled Mrs. Thatcher's War, his background telling me, "The role you played in helping getting access"—he'd very much like to interview me for part of the book and the rest of it. So it lives on, on the British side, at least. ZIERLER: When did you decide that you wanted to leave government? Was it a gradual process? INMAN: I had been thinking about it, started planning what would I want to do, how would I do it, when I left the vice chief's office. We were going to Hawaii. The 1st of December, 1973, we took the Auto Train to Florida. Because it was December, we wanted to go the southern route across—spend Christmas with my family in Southern California, and then fly on to Hawaii on the 30th of December. We went by Austin, my only time back there since I had left in 1951, to explore whether I might want to try to go to law school, which I had avoided doing when I was leaving my undergraduate stage, and my grandfather wanted me to do that. We visited with friends, in North Texas et al, on our way out. But this was thinking about what was I going to do when I retired, because I expected that service in Hawaii to last about three years, and then I would retire. Well, two months later, I'm told that I'm selected for a first star, and the world changed. Then I kept getting new jobs and new responsibilities. But as I'm getting into my fourth year at NSA, I'm increasingly conscious of holding up promotions for other bright Navy intelligence guys coming along. By this point, I wasn't interested in going back to graduate school. We had some discussions in the family—where would we want to live? What would we want to do? None had advanced, because that was going to be the summer of 1981, and back in the Fall of 1980, I was doing my job and dealing with transition teams, et al. By the Spring of 1982, when I had put things in motion, I knew several things. I did not want to take a job in the defense industries, or anywhere where I would be required to go back and interact with people who had worked for me. I was curious about what might be out there. Then I got a big boost in that, in that a month after I had given my letter to the president, Casey, Weinberger—Haig was still there but he was on his last leg—I had said to Casey, "If you want to have any role in having a successor for me, you'd better get moving, because I'm going to leave." He grumbled. I said, "I'm going to have to raise it with the president if I don't have the acceptance of my letter to go." I went to New York. I had to look at some activities we had going on up in interacting with the FBI. Casey calls down to Baker and said, "Can't persuade Inman to change his mind. He's going to leave, so we need to put together an approach to look for his successor." Baker said, "Let's have a meeting." Casey goes down to the White House, and as they're talking about prospects, candidates, where they work, Baker says, "We need to tell the chairman of the committees, and see if they've got any candidates they would like us to consider." Casey said, "I'll take care of that." Go see them, call them. He called Eddie Boland and even Goldwater and said that I was leaving and did they have any candidates to be successor. It was a fairly short, abrupt conversation. Goldwater was very angry with me that I had not told him I was going to do that. The next day, Bob Woodward went up to interview Goldwater on some other issue. Goldwater didn't want to talk about that. All he wanted to talk about was, "We're losing the Admiral." Woodward goes back down to the Post, and they start searching. Nobody knows anything. Soon there are questions calling on the White House raise the alarm bell. The proposal is, "Let's scoop the Post. Let's announce it." So they did a nice letter for the president to sign, accepting, thanking me for my service, and they dropped the letters on the White House Press Corps at 5:30 in the evening. You do not announce second-tier people leaving in a special circumstance unless there's a story there somewhere, so it led the ABC, NBC, and CBS evening news broadcast, and picked up the next day in the press. Suddenly, it was a national story. We had camera crews crawling—they wouldn't let them on the compound where we lived, but they were in the bushes all the way around it. Bob and Suzanne Massie, who wrote Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter the Great, et cetera, they were down to go to something at the Library of Congress, and they had come to stay with us. We had to use a CIA chase car to get them out to deliver them to the Library of Congress for the session. Well, the end result, within days, I was flooded with job offers. I got chided by Baker that I wasn't being helpful enough in dampening the story, so I did another television appearance saying it was time to go start my next career, which it was. I did not go public on my opposition to what I saw happening in Central America, because it was highly classified, but I went to see Goldwater and Moynihan, and then Eddie Boland, and I told them in detail what my opposition was, and my problem with it, and they pursued lots of questions about the activity. So I didn't go out with a public blast, but I made sure that there was Congressional investigation, oversight of what I thought was in violation of the findings. Had no dialogue with the president on the way out. Saw him a couple times, very pleasant. My last little vindictive bit—they had settled on John McMahon to be my successor, long-time substantive [career in] intelligence. He had come down late in my time and replaced John Stein as the DDO. Casey liked him, but he wanted an outsider, and it looked like we were going to get a Max Hugel kind of operation again. He had a guy that was writing for Fortune magazine he wanted to bring in as deputy. They settled on John McMahon. Casey made a quick trip, and I invited the vice president to come out to Langley to preside over John McMahon being sworn in as the deputy director. Casey came back, found out I'd done it—"You've got to cancel that invitation." I said, "I'm not going to cancel it. John is thrilled he's going to be there. And you don't want anything? You can cancel it." There were wonderful images captured of the vice president and John McMahon, trailed by a very grumpy Bill Casey. Crowds turned out inside the agency in large numbers, because Bush was still that popular inside. So that was my last little measure. Retirement ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard, presided over by the secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. Had a lot of interesting characters who showed up for it. Casey grumpily was there, and John McMahon. Weinberger was out of the country. Frank Carlucci came. Chairman of the joint chiefs. Certainly, Goldwater and Moynihan. Pretty sizeable Congressional delegation and members of the press. ZIERLER: What did you talk about in your remarks? INMAN: How grateful I was for the opportunity to serve. That was it. John Lehman had gone on much too long. I was a paragon of everything along the way. It was embarrassing, he went on so long, so my remarks were three minutes. Thank everybody for the great honor of having them come, and the honor of having the opportunity to serve. Now, about two weeks before that ceremony—because I worked at Langley right up until the last minute—but I'd been given an award, the Golden Plate Award in New Orleans, where you had three days that you interacted with students from all over the country, all about leadership, et al. There were, oh, it must have been 20 of us getting the award, alphabetically. The guy of Haagen-Dazs was one. Seated next to me alphabetically was Steve Jobs. On the second day, Steve struck up a conversation about, did I know what I was going to do when I retired? "I've made no decision." "Well, why don't you come out to Apple and be president?" I thought he was joking, so I blew him off. He wasn't joking. He went to Gerry Roche who was head of Heidrick & Struggles, with the issue and said, "I want you to get Inman to come be the president." I'm getting ahead of the story now with this connection of planning what was I going to do next. I interacted, courtesy of Gerry Roche, with the board as well as Steve, and it was clear a split was coming. The Apple I had been a great success; Apple II had not been. They were getting ready to do this new product that turned out to be the McIntosh. It was clear a clash was coming, between the board and Steve, so I told him they didn't need a strategic planner; they needed a marketer. That was outside my skill set. They hired John Sculley from PepsiCo, and when I saw what they paid him, I thought maybe I had made a mistake. Then when they pushed Steve out a few months later, I knew I had not made a mistake. That experience of dealing with the routine of the Reagan White House and all the little petty stuff said—I didn't want to be in another situation like working for Casey. As a lot of other offers came up, I pushed them aside for clashes. John Dixon, who was head of E-Systems, came on a weekend and presented himself at my quarters. He wanted me to come to E-Systems and a year later be his successor as the CEO. We bought a lot of equipment from E-Systems when I was director of NSA. But it was precisely what I had already decided I did not want to do, so I said, "No," and he was furious with me! Wouldn't speak to me at events for several years after that. But it was the right call. Let's back up now. We're in 1982. I had gone through a review of authorization for intelligence activities. Ford had designed Executive Order 11905, which I had helped author, laying out what you could and could not do. Among other things, it prohibited assassination. Two of the staff members at the SSCI committee were determined to unleash the CIA et al, and they had taken staff jobs. They came up with a rewrite which would have gotten rid of all the constraints. Casey had no interest in it, so I ended up as the one to defend 11905, and the arbiter was Ed Meese. We get to a point, I would say what the opposition would—how important this was in unleashing—and Meese would—and I'd say, "Why would we want to do that?" So Executive Order 12033 was, except for word changes, virtually identical to 11905 in its authorities, that it offered. I'm confusing things. Let me back up. The first review of 11905 had been in Carter, and that was 12033. Under Reagan, it was a look back at both, and that one became 12333, which stayed all the way to late George W. Bush time. That was the guiding document in what the intelligence agencies could and could not do—collection inside the U.S., protection of privacy, a whole variety of protections, while giving authority to go do the things you needed to do overseas. ZIERLER: If not publicly, since your remarks at your retirement ceremony were so brief, privately when you were in reflection mode, after having spent so many years in military service, in public service, in government service, of course one of the overriding themes there is confronting the Soviet threat. Did you have any idea circa 1982 that things would be falling apart only later that decade? INMAN: I wrote a memorandum for the record, sent it to the DDI, copied to Casey, focused on the remarks that General Ogarkov had made about their needing to spend more money to keep up with us on smart weapons, and conventional weapons. The response I got back was that they couldn't afford to do it. I simply raised the flag—is this a sign that there are greater economic problems than we recognize or follow? But I had no idea of the scale. I think I've told you before, in my eight and a half years in Washington senior jobs, the only person who ever asked me a question about Soviet economy was Caspar Weinberger, and what he wanted was to compare rubles and dollars for amount being spent in defense, for his presentations to Congress. There was no one across the government, career or political appointees, who was focused on the Soviet economy. Sad commentary. But their defense was they were all fighting fires. Are we about ready to start the transition to the private sector? ZIERLER: I want to ask a few more reflective questions, since you're going to be thinking along those terms. One of the major themes also for you personally was your work to restore public confidence in the business of intelligence gathering. What had you accomplished, and what work was there remaining to go full circle from the darkest days of the intelligence community's activities in the 1970s? INMAN: One of my early conclusions was that you could never tell the stories in detail to the public of all the things you'd accomplished, what you had done, what you hadn't done, but Congress was the surrogate for the public, so you needed to have a process where you could regularly keep select committees apprised of what you were doing, why you were doing it, what were you getting. That meant not just the members, but their staffs as well. We've talked about earlier the visit of Senator Inouye to the Pentagon, his setting up the rules of a vice chairman as opposed to a ranking member, all the staffs belong to the chairman and vice chairman, and there were designees for the members. It was to maintain security. Boland did not go that far, on the House side. They were less inquisitive, I guess I'd say. It essentially worked. As we were more open and in regular dialogue with the committees, whenever there was something that would pop up, they would respond. That's where Goldwater became particularly a strong advocate and friend, which overrode his intense distaste for Bill Casey personally. These things are transitory, David. You had Inouye and Goldwater for two years, Bayh and Goldwater for two years, Goldwater and Moynihan for four years, five years. Then you got Durenberger and Leahy, and there was a foot race after a hearing of who could get in front of the cameras first, and it was a tough several years. Then David Boren took over as chairman of the committee, and Bill Cohen from Maine became the vice chairman, and you went back to the model that had worked so well for the first eight years, and relationships recovered. That was a good long run. I think Boren did six years. Then it went downhill again. Then Richard Burr, North Carolina, became chairman. Then Mark Warner from Virginia became vice chairman, and it went back to the original model. The House doesn't have anything like that, and they've had much more partnership. There were a couple of periods when—Mike Rogers from Michigan, I think, and Ruppersberger from Maryland, chairman and ranking member—again, it was a solid period. The point I'm trying to make here—the leadership of the committee, both sides of the aisle, have to be committed to a bipartisan approach and to protecting security sources and methods for the process to really work. They in turn have to be the ones who talk to the public about the value of what is being done. I didn't need personal publicity, had no burning desire to see my image on the television screens. I did some of it, very reluctantly. When Casey was in real risk of being pushed out of office, Baker asked me to go on Nightline and defend him, which I did, generally credited with calming the waters. Casey showed no appreciation for that effort. Baker did briefly. Jim Baker is an incredibly capable, competent guy, but it was always sort of what you do for me today, not what you did for me yesterday, in dealing with him. ZIERLER: Of course, it was outside your immediate portfolio when you moved over to the CIA, but in what ways were you keeping tabs on what was happening at the NSA, and what satisfaction were you drawing that the policies that you put in place were going to make the NSA strong for the long term? INMAN: I've shared with you earlier the award that I got, which is still a matter of personal pride. I had a good dialogue with Linc Faurer, who had been my successor, but a real dialogue with Ann Caracristi, the deputy. I would see them, interact with them, and I'd go visit occasionally. They always welcomed me back, because they knew I was very devoted to the agency and the mission and its health. Part of that is of course when I'm going through budgets, what to fund. I remained pleased that I was able to put some working collaborative activity between the agencies in place that survived and prospered. What I learned pretty early on was that money can cure a lot of disagreements. ZIERLER: [laughs] INMAN: When I showed up with a purse, pretty quickly people would decide they could— they could support that. I don't think we wasted much. I think most of the investments proved to be very solid for the long term. I tried not to look over the shoulder too carefully. When Bill Odom became Faurer's successor, I was not welcome back, because I was retired. No, they wouldn't have former directors come, and I'd always go to those sessions. But we're going back now. What did I do in the 18 months when I was still in active service? People in senior positions would come see me, just wanted to tell me what they were doing, what they had accomplished. Linc Faurer did not feel threatened by that at all. If there was something that popped up and had a question, I'd ask him a question and tell him why I was asking, how I'd come to it, so making sure we kept a level of communication going. ZIERLER: On your last day, when you finally lose access to classified information, what's the process of getting read out, and what are the agreements, both formal and informal, about what you can disclose and what you can't disclose as a private citizen? INMAN: I was never briefed out. I still have my clearances from both NSA and CIA, which they maintain for wanting to reach out and get advice, to expose me to specific problems. NSA has used that a good deal more than CIA. The CIA has used it on occasion over the years, depending on who was the director, who was the deputy director at the time. NSA had a tradition of bringing back former directors and deputy directors at least once a year, expose them to what are the big problems they were working on, and get advice. Mike Hayden had continued that when he was the director of NSA and then he was briefly deputy director of national intelligence and then director of CIA., and he instigated that same process of having former directors and deputy directors back at least once a year, sometimes twice. That continued through Porter Goss and George Tenet—former Senate staffer, NSC staffer et al. It continued all the way on through Pompeo. Gina Haspel never had a session where the former deputies were included. I think her problem was she didn't want to have to have John Brennan back, even though he had been very influential to her career, because of the intense animosity between Trump and Brennan. Let's switch to the other side. I was very curious when I came out about how well-informed I could remain on what was going on in the world, as a hobby, without reading anything classified. The clearances were still there. If I had wanted to read classified—they would have let me. I made the conscious choice. I didn't want to have to stop and say, "Now, where did I learn that?" as I had had to do in the previous eight years, when I'm in front of a public crowd being asked questions. "What can I say? What should I not say?" So I began a process of every day reading three or four newspapers, weekly magazines. Takes a lot of time. Washington Speakers Bureau approached me—would I be willing to talk about what was going on in the world to their clients? I'm back from our two-month trip around the country, and beginning to address, "What am I going to do next?" Navy retired pay doesn't pay a lot of bills, and Washington Speakers Bureau came up in September with—Chivas Regal was having a meeting of their senior executives at the Mauna Kea Hotel on the Big Island in Hawaii, and an offer for two first-class air trip from Washington to Hawaii, and four free nights at the Mauna Kea, and$5,000, to spend two hours talking about what was going on in the world and my view. I couldn't believe people were willing to spend that kind of money and the rest of it! But it became one of the reasons I didn't have to rush to make a decision, because I did a lot of those over the next several months, in fact over the next couple years. Then I got tired of hearing my own voice. I still do Inman's View of the World quite a few times every year.

So it moved from being a hobby to being a source of income. Once I move into the teaching world, it's also there. But corporate boards, they're operating in various countries. I could talk with some authority on the risks involved, more than my peers, so it earned my value on the corporate boards. All of that came out of curiosity, wanting to know could I stay informed on what was going on in the outside world. And I still do it. Every day, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, local newspaper, and, it's a day late, the Financial Times, which remains my favorite of all of them.

ZIERLER: Last question for today—as you mention, you got flooded with job offers. Having spent your entire professional career within the government, I don't have to tell you what a different beast that is from the private sector. When you were considering these offers, when you were considering the next chapter in your life, what advice did you get, or what did you think about how you might translate your skill sets from government into the private sector?

INMAN: I gave you the lead-in to that question in describing sitting next to Steve Jobs and his hiring. Gerry Roche sat me down to try to understand why Steve was interested in hiring me—and would I be interested in that kind of a job. I had been deeply involved in massive computers and saw some sense of where this whole world was going in moving to desktops. But he counseled me that less than 25% of the senior officers who retired who went into line jobs in industry were successful, and they were not successful because they did not bother to relearn financial management. You had spent your career getting appropriation, spending ten and a half months careful that you didn't have an overrun, a 3679 violation, over which you could go to jail. Then suddenly the last six weeks, you had all this money you hadn't spent, and it was like a proverbial drunken sailor, going out and spending it wherever you could find a place to do it, so you'd get the same money next year, or hopefully more. That was probably the single most important piece of advice for my success over the succeeding 38 years. Because I set out, right at the outset, to try to understand revenues, gross margins, G&A expenses, EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization]. Wasn't that hard to learn, and as I went on corporate boards and served on audit committees and the rest of it, I pursued a lot more detail.

The human resource skills were immediately transferable. Communication skills, how you interact with the outside world, inside world—all of those transferred intact. And because of Gerry Roche's advice, I picked up quickly on the financial management. Didn't keep me from making some poor investments, but that's the nature of the venture capital business.

ZIERLER: We'll pick up for next time, Bob.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, December 13th, 2021. Once again, it is my great pleasure to be back with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, as always, it's great to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, David. The same.

ZIERLER: Today we're going to focus right at the point of your transition from public service to the private sector. We talked a little bit last time about some of the things, the skills that you had learned that were transferable, some of the new things that you had to consider. Just to set the stage, I'd like to ask some questions about the push and pull factors as you were contemplating this decision. On the push side, were there any issues that were happening in the Reagan administration—trends in policy, the way that intelligence gathering was happening, just to forecast ahead to some certain problems, like the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, or Iran-Contra, or all of the difficulties in Central America—were there any things happening at the Reagan administration that might shed light on the timing of your decision in 1982?

INMAN: Going back to the phone call from the new president on the 21st of January, at which he had gone through the whole history of my turning down during transition, and then said, "Admiral, now we're in office, and speaking as your commander in chief, I need you to be the deputy to Bill Casey." I said, "Under the circumstances, I'd be honored, but hopefully no more than 18 months to two years." There was a great objection to that by both Jim Baker and Bill Casey, because everybody was supposed to commit for four years, but the president said that would be okay, so I held to that. That was the push factor from the beginning, of looking at this as an 18-month commitment, to be extended to two years only if there were pressing elements that I thought were necessary.

ZIERLER: Why only 18 months? If the offer to return to the NSA was available, would you have stayed in government?

ZIERLER: What was that criticism? What rubbed you the wrong way?

INMAN: Frankly, I don't even remember now exactly the criticism, but that I was hampering progress in the intelligence world, et al. Of course, what I didn't realize until later was that he was being the mouthpiece for the Likud Party in Israel, and that that's where much of the criticism was arising. At any rate, plus strong conviction that I needed to move on to open promotion opportunities for Naval intelligence professionals whose careers I had helped shape and bring along. Turned out with the new appointment to CIA, I no longer counted against flag officer numbers in the Navy, but I still had the conviction that they weren't going to add to the intelligence specialist flag numbers as long as I was sitting there at the top. All these contributed, but it was time. Time to move on, go find fresh challenges, things that I was going to find. Instead of getting up dreading the day, get back in the mode I had been in until these last 18 months, wondering what exciting things were going to happen today.

ZIERLER: With all of your decades of experience in public service, was there an entrepreneurial aspect that you wanted to explore, something that you thought you might be good at but would never otherwise have the opportunity to test?

INMAN: Let me in fairness touch on one other item. There was clearly nothing in the intelligence community I wanted to do with Bill Casey sitting on top, the only job that was better than the one I now had. But years ago, the director of NSA, Noel Gayler, had gone out to be CINCPAC, but he was an aviator. He was an unrestricted line officer. There was a little dialogue in the background of whether it would be feasible to consider me to go out to unified and specified command. Pacific Command clearly would have been the one. It was very clear that was not doable, as a restricted line officer. So there were no other growth options available inside the Defense Department and the intelligence community for me. Yeah, it was time to go explore. Did the skills I had developed, burnished, in my government years, particularly the last eight and a half years managing increasingly large operations, were those skills applicable to the private sector? I was eager to go find out.

ZIERLER: Given the flood of interest once the news broke that you were leaving government, all of the options that you had to consider, what was most attractive to you?

INMAN: There were three that I spent time exploring, and then finally the one I settled on, the fourth. Early on, I had concluded one of the things I did not want to do, from having watched, was to take a job where I would come back and be in contact with people who had worked for me. John Dixon, who was the chairman and CEO of E-Systems, which did an awful lot of work for the intelligence community, flew to Washington uninvited to take me to breakfast, so I went. He wanted me to come be the president of E-Systems and to be his successor as the CEO after a year, and I turned him down. He never spoke to me again! Because he had apparently for some time, from the NSA years, been thinking that I was the ideal successor for him, and he was already well into his sixties at that stage. But I settled on American Express. Jim Robinson wanted me to come and do their national operations. Dravo, which was a construction company in Pittsburgh wanted me to come be the chief operating officer. As we've already discussed at some length, Steve Jobs had decided from the banquet where we both got awards that I should come to Apple.

I spent a substantial amount of time looking at all three of those options. First, they were non-defense, non-intelligence. Jim Robinson wanted me to do the first year learning American Express being in the office of the chairman and the president. I went for my dialogue with the president, Sandy Weill, and it became very apparent that he detested Jim Robinson and that being in that milieu for a year, I just wasn't prepared to do. Going into it, that was my first choice. I wiped that one off. The Dravo turned out in the dialogue—they were purely interested in who I knew. They wanted to try to dramatically increase their Department of Defense business. So I wiped them off. They did ask me to serve on their board of directors after I turned them down to be chief operating officer, and that's a story we'll come back to later, that experience. So I focused in on Apple, Gerry Roche pushing me pretty hard. But as you already know from the earlier conversation, the single best piece of advice I got on the transition was from Gerry Roche, to learn financial management as it was done in the private sector, not as it was done within government. But I found in my discussions that Steve wanted to go one direction; the board of directors wanted to go another. It was very clear a clash was coming, so I made the decision I should exit. I told them that I thought they needed a strong marketer, because they were getting ready for their new product, which was the McIntosh, not a strategic planner, which was my strength. Steve didn't talk to me for a couple years, until he then wanted me to do something else for him, after he had been pushed out, to look at whether Pixar had technological capabilities that might be useful in defense or in the intelligence world.

In the interim, while I was doing this, I had been approached by the folks at Control Data on wanting me to consider being the first CEO of a joint research venture called Microelectronics Computer Technology Corp that Bill Morris, the CEO of Control Data, had been the driving force in putting it together. I began interviewing with the 15 corporations that were planning to be members, and ultimately concluded that I brought some potential strengths to that job that others might not. I had spent eight and a half years getting agencies and departments to work together who really didn't want to, so I knew I brought some skills that could be useful in getting the 15 competing companies to pool resources, push the frontiers of research. I was intrigued by the areas of research they wanted to pursue. Integrated circuits, advanced computer design, advanced software design, and then artificial intelligence, database management, human interface with computers, and parallel processing, all things that were going to be at the cutting edge going forward.

I found in my discussions that all fifteen corporations were committed to try to make this work but they didn't trust one another. The overriding concern was that somehow one of the companies would get a strategic advantage over the others from what was created, and they mostly all had Control Data in mind, because they had been the founder. So I agreed to do it, with two provisos. One was that I would be chairman of the board as well as chief executive officer, and second, that I had absolute authority in hiring. I had watched many years before when McNamara had created the defense intelligence agents and then let the services decide who to send. I wasn't going to repeat that mistake, to take the people companies wanted to get rid of rather than going after the best talent.

I agreed to do this in early January, so I had taken six months to do this process, during which I had separately begun to join some corporate boards. I had been making money making speeches for pay, on what was going on in the world, and joining some not-for-profit boards or being approached by a lot of them. I went up to Minneapolis on the 21st of January to begin the process of taking over. I had signed on back on 5 January. The first question was, "Where do you want to put it? Where do you want to live?" I said, "Wrong question. What area geographically would be most supportive to help grow this enterprise?" Therefore, I would want to do a public site selection on where to locate it. They said, "Well, we don't do public site selections." I said, "Well, trust me. Let's do something different. Let word of mouth drive the interest in it."

We scheduled the first set of hearings on the 25th of February in the Washington D.C. area, Arlington. The site selection committee had CEOs of six of the 15 companies. These had to be pretty intense one-day events. On that 25 February, presentations from Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Fairfax County in Virginia, and the Research Triangle in North Carolina, an hour each. Second set of hearings on the 3rd of March in San Francisco. Five cities from California, two from Arizona, one from Utah, and one from Oregon. The lieutenant governor, a Democrat, decided to come preside over the five California cities. That prompted the governor of Arizona to decide to come preside over Tucson and Phoenix. Mayors et al came from Portland and Salt Lake City. One day again, so it was a very full day. Bruce Babbitt did a good job of presenting for Phoenix and Tucson, but the word spread that the lieutenant governor of California and the governor of Arizona had taken part, so when we got to Chicago for the third session on the 18th of March—Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, and Georgia—governors and large delegations from each of the states showed up, and obviously by this point a lot of media was following along in the process.

They each had an hour. The governor of Texas brought the chancellors of the University of Texas system, and the Texas A&M system with him, and there were delegations from Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. The Dallas one was typical chamber of commerce—lights, sound, music, utterly unrelated to MCC. The Austin one, the chamber of commerce guy almost talked too long, but a professor of electrical engineering, Ben Streetman, talking about the research that he was undertaking at UT Austin captivated the group. One of the CEOs turned to me and said he'd like to hire any of the students that guy was teaching.

By far the best presentation was led by Henry Cisneros, the mayor of San Antonio, who brought the president of USAA, the head of Frost Bank, a couple of other CEOs. Henry had taken the time to really understand what this joint research venture was going to do. His presentation was focused on how you helped this enterprise recruit employees and get them settled in San Antonio. Savings-and-loan and banks had committed to approval of 30-year mortgages, fixed rate 1% below the going rate, a lot of other things that would have been hugely helpful. His problem was UT San Antonio did not yet have a significant engineering school or a computer science program. What he lacked was one of our major requirements.

Really, I should backstop. What were our requirements? Seven: cost of living, quality of life, tax climate, business climate, quality of public education for the children of employees, transportation—driving time and air connections. And finally, access to top quality graduate students in computer science and electrical engineering. Now, these other things fit in place. We went back to Washington for the fourth session on the 24th of March and picked up the places that hadn't shown up earlier across the country, to build a total of 57 cities in 27 states. I was loving this, David, because I was learning so much about my own country, having spent 31 years looking at the outside world.

ZIERLER: And being abroad for so much of it.

INMAN: And abroad for much of it. Suddenly seeing the vitality of the economy and what was happening, what their focus was on economic development, et al. My proposal to the board was, "Let's take 57 down to 12." The CEOs were already tired, and they said, "No. Let's go to five. We want to get this over with." We settled on San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, Atlanta, and Research Triangle in North Carolina. One of the board members, one of the site selection committee members, had spent a number of years in Phoenix and hated it. He managed to persuade the other site selection people to drop Phoenix from the list, so despite Bruce Babbitt's good efforts, Arizona fell out of consideration. So, San Diego, Austin, Atlanta, and Research Triangle.

One of the corporations provided an airplane. We carved out a week and went to—we're now in April—started in San Diego. The chancellor's residence on the campus of University of California San Diego. The Republican governor decided he didn't want to be outdone by Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy, so Deukmejian came, announced he was coming to present. He kept us cooling our heels for 25 minutes, read a speech, and left, without any interaction with the committee—California would have been far better off if he had never showed up. The problem UC San Diego had—they did not yet have a school of engineering. They were going to build one. They already had a terrific College of Natural Sciences, and the computer science part of it well covered. I had worked with Dan Pegg, the economic development guy for San Diego, and we had put together a coalition of colleges of engineering from the other sites that had originally proposed to be home. We had the University of California at Irvine, the University of California Los Angeles, the University of California Santa Barbara, the University of Southern California—a private institution—and University of California Riverside. As we were doing the questioning, one of the committee members said to the dean of Engineering at UCLA, "Why are you here? Aren't these other schools your competitors?" He said, "As a matter of fact, they are, and we would work with you wherever you go." Between that and Deukmejian, my favorite place, San Diego, was out of the running.

We flew into Austin and began the day with a breakfast hosted in the atrium of the LBJ Library by Mrs. Johnson, and with the governor, the mayor of San Antonio—not the mayor of Austin—Henry Cisneros. The heads of the major banks from Houston, Dallas, San Antonio. They had put together a terrific package. Mark White had had his chief of staff, Pike Powers, run this operation, and it was paralleled by real estate developer John Watson who did much of the groundwork. In the background, both Ross Perot and George Kozmetsky were hard at work behind the scenes. Now, George Kozmetsky had been the founder of Teledyne who had gotten me down to Tallahassee to speak at a conference in March at which he had said any city that wanted to be at the forefront of technology development should be after this new joint research venture, which I at least said, "Okay, there's going to be one strong voice." He was just stepping down as dean of the College of Business at UT Austin.

The proposal—they would build a building and lease it to us for ten years, for a dollar a year, built to our design. They would put together a one-stop center to support getting employees settled in the community, same terms that Cisneros had provided—fixed-rate 30-year mortgages, one percentage point below the going average. The only thing they couldn't put in that package was driver's license renewal. That was the one part of the state that wasn't prepared to cooperate, so individuals would have to go to the driver's license bureaus to go get their new Texas driver's license. Other than that, it was a wonderfully helpful program. Eight one-million-dollar chairs at the University of Texas, four in computer science, four in electrical engineering, and $750,000 a year for ten years in grant aid for graduate students in computer science and electrical engineering, helping you to draw the best students in the country. So they were meeting what we were looking for, for a flow of future employee talent. We then flew on to Atlanta. Governor Joe Harris put a good front forward, and Joe Pettit, who was that point the president of Georgia Tech, he had been the number two to Thurman at Stanford in the beginning of Silicon Valley. His was a good presentation, but they didn't match all the other things that would help us get settled and started in Austin. We then went on to North Carolina. Governor Hunt was very eager to attract, and he led the efforts. He had been in Chicago, as had Governor Harris from Georgia. Their proposal was interesting, but when we got to looking at the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Duke, I asked the question to the president of the University of North Carolina, "How are you at attracting faculty talent to UNC?" There was a pause and he said, "Well, we've got two chair vacancies in computer science and electrical engineering because the salaries we're offering are not competitive with the rest of the country." That evening, Governor Hunt authorized major increase in what they were offering to fill their chairs, but it was too late. They had fallen out. The Austin offer was simply much more comprehensive in the support. We settled, informed the four—informed Governor White they had won, and others they had lost. We go to Austin on the 17th of May to make the announcement, and that launched. What was fascinating was the degree of national publicity that this search effort had generated, and then the surge in the national media on, "Why Austin? Why not Silicon Valley or Boston, Route 128?" It caused substantial focus on coming back and looking at why Austin, in a broader sense. 3M had looked at Austin earlier to expand their research activities and had passed. They were one of the shareholders in MCC. They came back and looked again and ended up building a huge facility on the outskirts of Austin. Schlumberger had been tracking all this. They came back and they built a large research facility in the outskirts of Austin. Probably most influential, Peter O'Donnell, the O'Donnell Foundation, serving on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board as had Ross Perot, which is where I got to know them. Peter called me and said, "How important were those eight one-million-dollar chairs?" "Big." He said, "Well hell, let's do it right. I'll give the eight one-million-dollar chairs, and go raise another eight from the private sector, and the UT system match that with their permanent funds, so let's do 32 one-million-dollar chairs, 16 of those in natural science, 16 of them in engineering." It was a huge boost for UT Austin, up into first-tier competing with the other particularly public universities around the country. So MCC had already had an impact substantially beyond what any of us had imagined when the process started. Final point here—I went back to do a debrief for the leadership team at UT Austin. I had it actually the afternoon after we had announced, and I pointed out to them they had not been the top on quality of life; that was San Diego, but they were second. They were best at cost of living. They were best at business climate and tax climate. They were fourth of four on the quality of public education. And on the transportation side, while you could drive anywhere in 15 minutes, you had to go to Houston or Dallas to change planes to go anywhere in the country. But the national airlines popped up pretty quickly, particularly American and Delta and United, that with this flow, they would significantly increase the number of nonstop flights from Austin to major cities. Over the next two years, that occurred. In turn, Austin then built a large new airport to help accommodate the boom. So all of these factors helped lay the groundwork for Austin's now 30-year run as a place for high technology. Before that occurred, the Texas business climate was driven by oil and gas. Even though there were already substantial technology activities in the Dallas area—Texas Instruments, IBM had a facility in Austin, so did Motorola—but they had no national presence, so it helped touch off the boom across the state. Four years later, when the government decided we needed to compete with the Japanese on the equipment that you needed to build state-of-the-art chips—the Japanese weren't selling them to us—so that led to the creation of Sematech. MCC had been entirely funded prior [from] 15 shareholder companies. Sematech, half the money from the government, half the money from private-sector companies. ZIERLER: On a personal level, was it good for you, just going back home, being at your alma mater? INMAN: That's the folklore. In fact, during the search process, I had worked hard to make San Diego a winning spot. My Navy ties. I had no ongoing ties in Texas. Nonetheless, it was absolutely a great decision for MCC, and I think in an earlier session we dealt—dealing with that airline problem, Ross Perot loaned me a Lear 35 for two years. Whenever we wanted to find somebody to head one of the programs, we'd send the Lear to collect that candidate and the family and bring them to Austin, and if we decided they were somebody we wanted, we got them, with that. Now, I left out one earlier episode in this transition to the private sector. After it was announced that I was going to leave and going to head this new joint research venture, I got a call at our residence from Ross Perot, who was in town for a President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board session. He wanted to take Nancy and me to dinner. Nancy told him that I was committed to go over to Annapolis to speak to an operations research conference that was being held there. He said, "Fine, I think I'll go along with him. Have him pick me up at the Ritz Carlton Hotel." So I did, and then the entire trip from DC—while I had planned to get my thought together for my speech, it was—and "This is not going to work, you ought not to do that, you ought to come to EDS, we'll make you to the chief technology officer, fill your bank account, and then send you back to government which is where you belong." I told him I had finished my government service. He didn't want to hear that. We arrive in Holiday Inn on the outskirts of Annapolis, and the conference. He had brought a book along with him, and he sat in the lobby and read the book while I went through the dinner and the speech. We get in the car to start back; there had been a thunderstorm during the meeting. The entire trip from Annapolis back to D.C., you'd have no idea the previous conversation had ever taken place. "How are you going to make this thing work? Where is it going to be located? What are you going to do?" And the rest of it. "How's it going to work?" I drop him off at the hotel, and his final thing—"I have one more question. Do you have any reason why you would not move back to Texas?" I said, "No." He said, "Well, that's where you're going to be." [laughs] That was the background behind his becoming such an avid supporter of the search, and certainly the Lear 35 helped a lot in improving talent to come lead the programs that we put in place. ZIERLER: A leadership question at this point. As you were getting comfortable in the private sector, leading a private company, what were some of the key differences and some of the key similarities in leading a governmental organization, both at the NSA and of course at the operational level at the CIA? INMAN: I had begun to accept invitations to join some corporate boards along with the search and then settling on MCC and settling on its location, so I had begun to look at management of business both from the vantage point of being a director of a corporation and from planning to put together its budget, how we were going to spend. The shareholder companies had committed sums of money but that didn't get translated to employees, facilities, hardware, all the rest. They had allocated significant resources for buildings, and with the commitment of building us a building and giving us free interim building space, there was a pot of money. I dipped into that pot of money when it came to buying state-of-the-art equipment for the research programs. Sun had just come out with their new workstations. We bought the first shipment coming off the production line. At the computer-aided development program, the fact that they could work on these machines helped us attract absolutely first-rate talent. We bought others as well—Lisp machines for building new systems. Again, it attracted some first-rate talent wanting to work on them. That proved to be a problem because once we got it up and working, not one of the shareholder companies had talent that could work in the Lisp language, nor did we have any that had comparable workstations, so we had to reconfigure a fair amount of stuff, so it could be used by the shareholder companies. So I discovered you don't always want to be at the cutting edge if in fact the people you're going to be supplying aren't at that same level. I exercised my authority over hiring. As companies nominated people, they wanted to come work, I accepted some, declined others. I did not take any of them to head the seven programs. I hired outside for all seven of those. Did a good job in some cases, not so good in others, which again caused me to enhance my own abilities to make judgments about fits of people for jobs, past experience, future. As I looked to flesh out the programs, I had used artificial intelligence when I was the director at NSA, things we were going to leave behind, et al. I decided to break that program into two parts. One was building the tools to create AI algorithms and platforms, and the other to try to build the largest database that had ever been put together for machine learning. I managed to hire Doug Lenat out of Stanford to come do that program which became Cyc. They were successful over the years in building the largest program, but they couldn't find anybody to use it. It was eventually spun out, long after my time, and finally, over the last ten years, has found in Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase people who would use it to check what their people were doing inside, as a way to track that people were complying with all their rules et al. The group creating the tools were mostly university professors who came, who were good, but after three or four years, they wanted to go back to their academic careers. What I'm trying to lay out for you is that I got a lot of education in hiring managers, putting them in place, but also discovered some shortfalls in that process. ZIERLER: As context for your decision to chair the committee to investigate the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, did you leave government with the general message that you were interested in remaining connected, that you wanted to serve is an advisory capacity when the situation warranted it? INMAN: No. At that point, I was really distancing myself from government. I didn't want the revolving-door idea. I had agreed to serve on the board of Science Applications International Corporation, SAIC, in San Diego, La Jolla, because it was employee owned. I was curious to observe firsthand how an employee-owned company worked as compared to those that were stock market public companies. I got a call from Secretary George Shultz in 1984. I don't know who had recommended me. Somebody obviously had, because he had come to State after I left. Al Haig was still secretary of State when I left the government. But he called me to ask me if I would chair a commission to look at the threat to U.S. embassies from terrorists flowing out of the attack in Kuwait, the attack in Beirut, and the attack on the Marine barracks. I said I would do it, provided it was bipartisan, and that we also look at intelligence threats to the missions. This was triggered by my experience with Moscow earlier back in my NSA days. He agreed to both. Let's dispense with one side first. We did indeed look at intelligence, and we prepared a classified report, which has never been declassified, and which drove a good deal of government investment. It led to the follow-on Laird Commission looking at Moscow, and walking away from the building that was half-built, and building a whole new place. The focus became on terrorist threats to embassies. He gave me Anne Armstrong, who was chairing the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board; D'Wayne Gray, chief of staff of the Marine Corps, lieutenant general, classmate of mine from National War College; Senator Warren Rudman from New Hampshire; Congressman—named Don, and I'll come up with his last name later, from Florida; Larry Eagleburger, who was about to become the deputy secretary of State, or would later become deputy secretary of State; and the head of Pinkerton—Robert McGuire. It was a good group. I hired Nina Stewart to—first, he gave me security people from State, and it was very quickly apparent that they were people who had been passed over for jobs as political or economic counselors, and had been pushed off to security. Nina Stewart had been the designee to the Olympics in Los Angeles, just finishing, and she had gotten great praise from FBI, from Secret Service, et al. I asked for her, and Schulz gave me her, and she became the prime staff member. Then later, Ann Armstrong was so taken with her that she hired her to be the executive secretary for the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board when our activity was over. We had just gotten started when the substitute embassy in Beirut was attacked by a truck bomb. That substantially hardened the approach we took toward the whole effort. We turned up pretty quickly that the ambassador, career foreign service, Reggie Bartholomew, had sent a message saying the embassy was fully ready to be occupied, so they had moved into it, but the gates that were to keep trucks from driving in and underneath the building were laying on the ground. They had never been installed. So a truck drove in, underneath, and with lots of casualties including Bob Phillips who was out there hosting a conference. He was the head of the Middle East section of DDO and the most promising career clandestine service officer. He was killed in that explosion. That led us to a very hard line. We proposed new buildings across the whole global scene, 75 feet separation from streets or roads so that you couldn't drive a truck bomb up alongside it and set off an explosion and kill people inside the building. Hardening the facilities in their design, against blasts, protection. At the outset, focusing on embassies in the Middle East and in Europe, and where you couldn't set out to immediately start a new building, to upgrade the security of the ones that were there, significantly enhance what they had. To create a diplomatic security service patterned on—I first had asked the director of Secret Service if Secret Service would be willing to take on the mission in addition to what they were already doing, providing advice at embassies around the world. He said no, they couldn't do it, but I had the right idea; we should create a service inside State patterned on the Secret Service. I guess those were the main features. Shultz approved all the recommendations except three, and those, we had wanted to set up funding, like when you're building ships, for redoing the embassies, so you didn't have to go back every year to get appropriations for the new buildings. He didn't want to fight OMB so he decided not to do that. He accepted all the other recommendations. From the intelligence side, the only thing I'll say here—no embassy or consulate could not have a common wall with buildings that were not part of the State Department property. So, he bought all that. Then he asked me to get Congress to enact legislation putting it in place, creating the diplomatic security service inside the Foreign Service, but by law separate in its ability to recruit, train, promote, and that at embassies or consulates, the diplomatic security would report directly to the DCM and the ambassador, not down buried four levels underneath. They got a lot of slots. They hired a lot of people. Some of them proved to be terrific. Some of them not so good. May I make a little diversion here on the family side? ZIERLER: Please. INMAN: Our two sons had on their own decided that they wanted to do military service but did not want military careers. The older one, who did electrical engineering, began at UC Irvine, transferred to UT Austin when he came to see where home was, and he liked what he saw in Austin. He didn't want to design circuits; he went to the Navy's Aviation Officer Candidate School and flew P-3s. He found immediately he was under the Admiral's umbrella. He had barely gotten to his first command when they wanted me to come be the change-of-command speaker, et al. Bill, watching all this, decided when he finished his undergraduate degree at UT Austin in radio, television, film, he went to the Air Force. He and his bride had done their MBAs together after undergraduate days, so the Air Force was happy to have him but they sent him to the missiles and space command in El Segundo, where he was working for civilians. Very unhappy, and he had barely gotten there when he had a request: could he get his father to come speak at a dining-in event? So he hasn't gotten as far from the umbrella as he thought he would. He jumped out of that to a new facility the Air Force put together—commandos, essentially, who would be the first ones out of the aircraft to secure facilities when they were going into strange new facilities. England Air Force Base. After a year and a half, they sent him to Abu Dhabi to be the anti-terrorism guy looking—this is in the year 2000. He interacted with the embassy every week and got recruited to the Diplomatic Security Service. He showed up on the Monday after 9/11 for his first class and discovered Inman buildings, Inman babies, all the employees. So he had leaped into a problem far worse than if he had been in the Navy for the overall influence of his father. He survived it, went on to have a very successful career. ZIERLER: Assessing the need worldwide for there to be a blast-proof perimeter for embassies, did that cause you to take a step back and ponder the broader significance of America's place in the world at that point? Was there a strategic reset that the United States needed to pursue to avoid all this? INMAN: We looked at the threat and made the judgment that it was going to be there for a very long time, both the intelligence threat and the terrorism threat, but more than that, that we wanted the employees out mingling with the population. Couldn't protect them while they were going to and from, but when they were back in their facility to work, we did not want them to be hostage or being killed by a car or truck bomb. A lot of criticism for the ugly buildings that were designed. A lot more criticism that they were not in the center of the city. People wouldn't want to come visit the embassy. That was precisely what we didn't want. We wanted them to get out in the population, the country, not simply waiting for people to come to the embassy. So I have no apologies for that or for the ugly buildings. Fast forward, in 1998, the terrorists had looked around. They saw the upgrades in Europe and the upgrades in the Middle East, so they went looking further and found there had been no upgrades in Africa, so they did Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, with large loss of life, externally and casualties inside the buildings. One of the requirements in the legislation was that accountability. This was getting at the Reggie Bartholomew problem in Beirut, and that if there was a loss of life of an attack, the secretary of State had to appoint a commission to examine and assign accountability for the lapse. State, broadly the Foreign Service, hated this new service and the requirements. I would argue over time it has served them well. Bill Crowell was asked to chair—former chairman of the Joint Chiefs—the commission looking at Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. He called me when they were finishing their results to say there wasn't a single thing in our recommendations that they would change, but what they were finding was that they hadn't been implemented. They had gone at it for a few years and without another attack, they had gone back to the usual—move money off to things that were their favorites. That led to a whole separate organization to go manage building construction around the rest of the world, which still exists to this day, which has had some challenges. Building a new embassy in Beijing and living up to the requirements to make sure that it was not going to be penetrated before you ever got it built. I used to get briefings every six months or so from the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, which let me see how it was being implemented, what was happening. They got reinvigorated after Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, but then it stopped about, oh, ten or 12 years ago, and I elected not to press them to resume. I'm ten years out of date on its impact, but it was clear that it had both a major impact on facilities themselves but also internally, on the quality of advice that ambassadors got, et cetera. I have had a number over the years of former ambassadors talk to me about the quality—often, one of the brightest people they had was the head of diplomatic security—and the quality of their advice. There was an irony here, that sometimes they ended up as the third most senior person on station. Fast forward, Bill Inman had done Sri Lanka in 2003, Baghdad in 2005, three years in Mumbai, came back and then did Kabul for three months, Peshawar, Mali, Mauritania. Took a team to Libya when the secretary of State wanted to make her first trip out there, and new ambassador was going to be appointed and going to be arriving. Bill headed that team, went over to Benghazi and in writing, said, "The facility is indefensible. Either upgrade it or close it." They didn't do either. His memo was in the classified report that Pickering and Mike Mullen did in looking at Benghazi later. I guess that's probably enough to run down that chain of impact, how I came to do that and pursue it for a number of years. ZIERLER: Bob, one thing we didn't talk about yet was your exposure in the mid 1980s to the so-called biotech revolution that was brewing at that point. In 1985, how did you get involved with the advisory board at PaineWebber? INMAN: I had come to know Don Marron, who was the head of PaineWebber, through the Council on Foreign Relations and David Rockefeller. Don asked me to chair the advisory board he was creating to help guide the investment of$150 million in this emerging field through the PaineWebber development company. He promised he would recruit and bring first-rate talent, and he did—Dick Hodgson, who had been a founder of Fairchild; Eugene Kleiner of Kleiner Perkins; George Kozmetsky, a founder of Teledyne, and later the dean of the business school at UT Austin; the chief scientist at Merck; and Josh Lederberg, president of Rockefeller University. From 1985 to 1993, we invested in some great successes—Genentech, Amgen, Biogen—and some that weren't successful, along the way, in the Netherlands and elsewhere. But it was a wonderful exposure for me to these founding investors in the venture capital world from whom I learned a lot.

ZIERLER: I've been lucky enough through my work to talk with people like David Baltimore and Lee Hood, who were front and center in the fundamental research that led to the biotech revolution. What was your sense of how those scientific accomplishments were translated to businesspeople who saw a major opportunity? What was that like, from your perspective?

INMAN: We were fortunate that the scientists who were pushing the frontiers of technology wanted to start companies, and they turned both for advice and for funding to the prominent current funds. For instance, Dick Hodgson from Fairchild led a group; that's where they all broke off and created other companies. Many of the founders of Intel were part of that group—Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce. That was sort of the background pattern that came out of this level of experience of people. But the scientists reached out to the business world, and there were people there who recognized this was a field that was going to explode, and therefore they were willing to go put money to work.

ZIERLER: Was PaineWebber a pioneer among the investment companies in investing in biotech?

INMAN: PaineWebber was probably the lead of the—remember, PaineWebber, not as big as JPMorgan Chase; Merrill Lynch; Shearson Lehman Brothers; Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. But Don was forward-looking on what was going to be emerging, and he knew that they wouldn't get involved in this if they simply went about the usual mergers and acquisition business of PaineWebber, so he created this separate entity to explicitly go invest in early-stage companies.

ZIERLER: Was your sense that this was also the very early beginnings of the Human Genome Project that would revolutionize our understanding of genomics?

INMAN: I don't think what was happening in the Genome Project rose to our level at that stage. What did begin to stand out early was where chemistry and biology, linked by great advances in computing, were opening the doors for researchers to go explore deeper, faster, further than had been possible before.

ZIERLER: This is of course a few years before you join the board at Caltech. Were you aware of what Lee Hood was doing at that point and his role in the creation of these companies?

INMAN: Not until after I joined the board.

ZIERLER: When you did, famously of course Lee had left Caltech because the "big science" that he wanted to pursue wasn't really possible at that point at Caltech. Did that register with you at the time?

INMAN: Yes.

ZIERLER: What kinds of discussions did you have about whether that should or should not be a direction that Caltech would pursue, so called "big science" in biology?

INMAN: We were already doing areas of research. What was absent at that point and not yet discussed was the deep examination of technology transfer, and how did you facilitate the creation of companies and help draw in funding so that scientists like David Mayo could stay on the faculty and yet create a couple of companies along the way, pursuing his—I think had that capability been there, Lee Hood might have stayed to do his work in Pasadena instead of Seattle.

ZIERLER: Was your sense that at peer universities to Caltech, places like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, were they farther along in these questions about tech transfer, or was this happening at the same time everywhere?

INMAN: No, Stanford was ahead. Frederick Terman, who had been the dean of Engineering, recognized what was happening, and he persuaded the leadership at Stanford, the trustees, the president, to take a very forward-leaning role. This is several years earlier. They were really instrumental in helping seed Silicon Valley broadly, well before the focus on the biotechnology.

ZIERLER: I'm curious, then, given that you had come to understand what Lee Hood had done in his decision-making to leave, if you were part of a cultural process at Caltech that would come to be more embracing of business pursuits with fundamental research?

INMAN: Yeah. I don't want to overplay my role in this, David. The efforts were already underway to create the trustee committee, which I did not join, because I was investing in early-stage companies, and I didn't want to run the prospect of conflict of interest, in my other activities. I missed some good opportunities because of that, but I still am comfortable it was the right ethical stance to take.

ZIERLER: Who was your initial point of contact at PaineWebber? How did that connection get made?

INMAN: Don Marron, himself. He reached out to me to tell me he was going to create PaineWebber Development Corporation and set up an advisory board, and he very much would like me not only to get involved but to chair it. Remember that there had been a lot of publicity when I left government and then when we did the nationwide site selection of where to put MCC, so I picked up a guru status which was not deserved, simply because of media attention. But people who followed all this were curious, and so they ascribed to me a lot more knowledge and talent than I really had.

ZIERLER: Do you have a sense of what got Don excited about this initially, who his contacts might have been that he thought this was an exciting venture to pursue?

INMAN: I don't know. We had a conversation about why he wanted to do it, and as an emerging field he didn't think was yet broadly covered, effectively covered. We had a charter that we could have gone beyond biotechnology, and we did a couple of other investments fairly early that were not successful, then we saw where we could bring to bear and have much greater impact was in the biotech field. Stephen Evans-Freke became the day-to-day manager of PaineWebber Development Corporation, a Brit, a character in his own right. Before that, I can't remember who the first guy was. But eventually, internal politics at PaineWebber sort of brought it to a not particularly flattering end, and Don's interest had—he resigned from the advisory board after about four years.

ZIERLER: Last question on this thread—looking back, what do you see as the accomplishments of PaineWebber's investments? In other words, what science or translational achievements were made possible as a result of this early investing venture?

INMAN: There were already other investors interested in Genentech. I think we may well have been the first in Amgen and in Biogen. We tended to go bring other investors in parallel, and simply PaineWebber, given its status as a major brokerage firm in New York, could attract attention.

ZIERLER: Bob, returning to MCC, how long did you stay?

INMAN: Four years. I had committed to do three, and I stayed the fourth year—one company wanted to leave, and two companies wanted to join. We hadn't really prepared for that at the outset, so changed the bylaws, get through the structure, have one company leave, and then it turned out several more came. First as I looked at the tools the researchers were creating to do their research, I thought there ought to be some potential economic gain from that. I asked several of the corporations, were they going to create business around those tools? They promptly told me it was none of my business, that what they did with the research was proprietary. Going back to my NSA days, if I brought any value, it was in pushing the research out to be used. If I couldn't know how it was going to be used, then a lot of my interest left.

I had to notify them by 1 September if I was not going to automatically renew for a fifth year. I told them I was going to leave. There was a board meeting two weeks later. They were all nervous. What impact was it going to have on this organization? "How are you going to tell them?" I said, "Routinely." Once a quarter, I have all the employees together, my NSA pattern. Give them a report card of what we've accomplished and then take questions if anyone asks. And then in the middle of that, I would tell them I was going to be leaving at the end of the year, and that the shareholders were going to be finding them a new boss. They were nervous about that. Two of the directors stayed around to deal with the damage.

I included it in the middle of the remarks. But the one guy positioned himself on the front row, and he was a little bit of a troublemaker. I was pretty sure he had some question in his mind when he positioned himself, so at the Q&A, I called on him first, and he said, "Admiral, when are you going to get a traffic light out on Brinker Lane so it's safe to exit out into the traffic?" The place broke up in laughter. My leaving was much less important to him than getting a traffic light.

They spoke with forked tongue. What they intended was a large amount of debt, the most they could pile on, the least amount of equity they would have to put in the deal in order to do it. The other element—Rumsfeld had encouraged them that they ought to do defense electronics, and that was just before the defense budget started a long multiyear downward spiral. They put together a very impressive board for Westmark Systems. I was the chairman and the CEO. Don Rumsfeld. Bob Strauss. The head of Union Pacific Railroad, Evans, who had been a major Republican player. Clifford Grum, CEO of Temple-Inland. David Kearns, the CEO of Xerox. I'm missing one other. It was a very high-powered board.

We looked at a lot of options and decided to make a bid for Tracor, which was in Austin. Made a full-value offer, which they accepted on a Friday in October of 1987. The following Monday morning, the market dropped 508 points. Shearson Lehman Brothers had been the investment advisor, and they panicked, said they had Tonka toys with even larger debt in front of it, and they needed to place that before trying to place a defense industry enterprise. That meant going past the calendar year, so you had to do another full-up audit before you could go to market, which pushed the date then out to February. By February, Shearson Lehman Brothers was in deeper problems. They decided they couldn't place the debt. They recommended Mike Milken's operation, Drexel Burnham. The merchant banking firm had already had trouble with the Milken company, so they didn't want to go there. They went instead and approached Merrill Lynch, outside the Westmark board, on their own, made a deal with Merrill Lynch to take over, and in came [as a] member of the board, Elvis Mason to get the board to ratify their decision. Because nothing else was happening, the board did, with mine being the only objection to it.

That afternoon, the court case came down, Texaco and Pennzoil, and Merrill Lynch panicked that they were going to be sued by Shearson Lehman Brothers. The end result of it was that Shearson got everything they would have earned if they had placed the debt, not having placed it. Stan O'Neal, who would later go on to be the CEO of Merrill Lynch, he did a beautiful job of placing the debt over two months, taking me with him all over the country making presentations, but he came in 175 basis points higher than all of the projections when Tracor was bought, which meant from the beginning—and you had a huge amount of lawyer fees and everything on top. So it meant from the very beginning, servicing the debt was the critical problem.

We set out to examine how would you break up Tracor and sell off parts in order to service the debt. Did our own internal plan, took it to New York before the key entities, prospective investors, investment banking firm, et al. We had studied each element—who would most likely be interested in it, how would you go about maximizing the price. Laid out the timeline. As we're going through it, they said, "Great. This is great stuff! Great. Who helped you do this?" "We did it internally." Until we got to the timeline. They said, "Well, that won't work." Because it was over 18 months. "Why won't it work?" "Two bonus years." So for all those who were going to be advising, they were purely focused on what their bonuses were going to be that year, and if you spread this deal out over two years, that would dilute substantially their bonuses.

That's when I made the decision to leave Westmark. Extracted myself. They brought somebody else in. Worked their way through it all eventually, on the plan we had put in place, and I actually made a little money on it over the long term. But it was an unhappy experience that made me very adverse to debt at all. While all this is going on, I've already gone on a number of not-for-profit boards—the Council on Competitiveness, the Business Higher Education Forum. I got approached one day by the chairman of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank. Would I consider serving as a class C director of the bank? They had a member whose health had deteriorated and needed to resign, and they were looking for somebody to fill in the last nine months of his six-year term, and then stand for the Board of Governors to appoint you for a full term afterwards, actually two three-year terms, which was supposed to be the maximum you could serve.

As he started outlining—he said, "Now, there's one thing I have to tell you about. You can't own any bank stock." I was being pressured by Texas Commerce, InterFirst, and Republic, the three leaders of the fundraising for the MCC building, to go on their bank boards. I had been first approached by Republic, on that afternoon by Texas Commerce, and the day following by InterFirst. Obviously they had their own internal spies what was happening. I had told them I couldn't because of the fundraising. But when now the funds had all been raised, they were all back again, and suddenly if I accept the appointment through the Dallas Board, I can't go on any bank board. So that caused me to accept. I then got a follow-on three year, and a subsequent three-year. My term began in 1986. I'm off a year—1985, 1986, 1987. 1988, 1989, 1990 were my years. I was the deputy chairman for two years, and chairman for four years, during the savings and loan crisis. Learned a lot.

So I've done MCC. I'm doing Westmark but looking at how do I extract myself. And I get an approach from Rube Mettler, who was serving on both Council on Competitiveness and the Business Higher Education Forum. He was the CEO of TRW, and I had known him earlier, casually, through that, as a contractor. He asked me, would I consider being appointed trustee of Caltech? I said it was a great institution but I'm not a scientist. He said, "Yes, but you know Washington, and we manage JPL for NASA, and we don't have anybody on the board who knows Washington, and we need to fix that." So I agreed, and a few months later, I became a trustee of Caltech, where I still serve.

ZIERLER: It's your second longest-running position, I think.

INMAN: Yeah.

ZIERLER: Where were you with regard to employment by 1990? Were you still with Westmark?

INMAN: No, let's go back and there's some other holes in the story. Yes, I was still at Westmark but leaving Westmark. I talked earlier about that pile of money I had saved from getting a building built for MCC, and wanting to do some startup company funding and they'd all said no. Anybody who wants any technology coming out of this thing has got to pay the full load, to be a full shareholder of at least one of the seven programs. But they said to me, "If you want to get involved in venture capital on your own, that's fine, as long as it doesn't compete with what the research that MCC is doing." I had a lot of offers, and approaches. This, again, is the celebrity-name aspect, from the time leaving government and then the MCC site selection. I decided to do three, and to go with people I knew so that I could under their tutelage learn the venture capital business. Peter Sprague had been a founder of National Semiconductor, and he was starting something new in San Jose called LASA, an effort to use dry chemistry for the deposition of chips. Our packaging program dealt with chips but not with how you went about creating them. So I decided to join him. It would have been great environmentally, but it didn't work. Didn't lose much money.

Don Lucas whom I knew from Tracor was chairing the board of something new called a relational database, based in Belmont, California. Its name was Oracle. George Kozmetsky, having stepped down from being dean of Engineering, running his institute that he had funded for the university, was absolutely adamant that I had to join him, putting a little money in and serving on the board, of an IBM PC clone maker named PC Limited, because of the brilliant youngster who started it. We changed its name to Dell.

So having had Oracle and Dell as two of my first three, I was clearly brilliant at this venture capital business, and decided, as I was leaving Westmark, that I would do venture capital full time. I—wrote checks. Between my first one in 1984—that's LASA—and 1997, I had invested in 22 early-stage companies. Oracle had gone public. Dell had gone public. I had gotten off their boards after five years of them being public. But I realized all these others where I had written checks, I was a passive investor. That's not entirely true. I was a passive investor in some of them, but I had taken a board role in oversight in a couple of them. One of them that was located out in Marin County decided that we needed a chief operating officer to really make the place work. Search firms sent out a guy to look at it, Greg Carlisle. He came to Beaver Creek to ski with me for a day, and to tell me he'd looked at it; he didn't want to move the family to Marin County. He had married a woman with two youngsters just coming into teenage years, his first marriage, and he didn't want to go there.

As the day went on, I liked him more, and I asked him would he consider coming to Austin, because I had another company I had invested in here. Good technology, good idea, but the CEO was so scattered that I concluded I needed to ask him to step aside and bring in a new CEO. Greg came, looked, and said, yeah, he'd be happy to do it. Four months later, he told me not to put any more money in that company, because while it was good, there was parallel technology—this was in the travel business—that was comparable and much deeper pockets. That was Expedia. So we exited on that company, kept the technology. I asked Greg, how would he like to do this full time? He came and looked over the remaining 19 or so entities. We closed a handful of them, sold some more, and then kept a small number, and began building. For lack of a more original idea, we called it Inman Ventures. That's all just really getting started when I accepted the appointment on the Caltech board.

I had also accepted another job in 1987. Bob Strauss had approached me that he and Charlie Walker, chief lobbyist for AT&T, who had been the deputy secretary of Treasury, government service, and Howard Beasley, CEO of Lone Star Steel, who had been John Connally's executive assistant when Connally was secretary of Treasury, they were going to team-teach a course at UT Austin—law school, business school, public affairs—how government works, and they wanted me to do the national security part. It was 16 classes, and each of the four of us would do four, a different segment on the government. I agreed to do it, pro bono, enjoyed it.

Going on through the 1990s, Beasley had become ill with cancer after two years, and Connally took his place. We had a great eight-year run. Strauss to Moscow, Connally terminally ill. The next two years, instead of doing four sessions, I'm doing eight, still pro bono, along with my venture capital and my other corporate boards and not-for-profit boards. I said, "Why am I doing this?" In 2001, to my great surprise, I was offered tenure, full professor, flagship chair at the LBJ School. So, a reorient of priorities—the next ten year cycle—and I agreed to do it. We'll come to that much later in time. But I'm sort of explaining, how did these all get started. Late 1980s through the 1990s, venture capital was increasingly a major part of my time. Corporate boards, at that point I was doing Fluor, Temple-Inland, SBC which had started as Southwestern Bell, SAIC, and Xerox, plus my private ones, managing to stay busy.

ZIERLER: To return to the global stage, just to bring you to November 11th, 1989 when the Wall fell, do you have a clear recollection of that day and what it meant in history?

INMAN: Yes. It was a very emotional day, watching it. Having been deployed to the Med on Mullinnix when the wall was built, and the U.S. response—there really wasn't a response. To see it clearly was going to totally change the landscape in Europe. David Rockefeller, in addition to getting me on the Council on Foreign Relations, and after I retired, getting me on the board of directors of the Council I guess beginning in 1984, chaired the membership committee for five years. Eventually became the vice chairman, until Pete Peterson replaced David as chairman, and then when he set out to hire Les Gelb. I thought that was a bad idea. Karen House and Rita Hauser agreed with me. We had a different candidate, former ambassador to South Korea et al, came in for the orals, and he fell flat on his face. Rita wrote me a note—"You can't win without a candidate." Les was selected, and I quietly resigned and got out of the way and substantially began to curtail. Because I had spent the five years as chair of the membership—focusing on trying to spread the Council on being a national organization, not just focused on Washington and New York. That's another long story. Have we dealt with my trying to stay up on the outside world?

ZIERLER: No, not that much.

INMAN: When I retired in 1982, both NSA and CIA were keeping all my clearances, to be able to call me back for advice. That was useful when Secretary Schulz asked me to chair the commission. I already had the clearances. Turned out to be useful on the SAIC board, because SAIC did a lot of sensitive work, and I chaired the executive committee for a long run—15, 16 years—and oversight of all of SAIC's classified work. But in doing that, I made a conscious decision in 1982 not to read any product. Because I was beginning to give speeches, I didn't want to have to stop and say, "Where did I learn that?" So I got in a process of reading, every day, at least four newspapers, and weekly magazines. I found I could pretty well track what was going on. Not as fast as I would have done it. Then I had a sense of what sounded plausible and what did not sound plausible.

On my corporate boards, I had begun to make friends with Alfred Herrhausen who headed Deutsche Bank, the head of Fuji Xerox, Yotaro Kobayashi, who was on the Xerox board, Shayhk Ahmed Juffali who was on the Fluor board. So I had people—if I wasn't sure, I'd call them and ask them, was that really valid or not valid? And that began this long-running saga, Inman's View of the World, which I do every summer at the Bohemian Grove and do anywhere from 20 to 40 speeches around the country, more in Texas than elsewhere on that general topic. Plus once I went teaching, it also informed my view that I would convey what was going on in the world.

ZIERLER: Were you involved at all with the tail end of the Iran-Contra scandal during your time chairing the Intelligence Advisory Board?

INMAN: We took our oath on the 30th of July 1990, and two days later, Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait. That launched a whole different direction in time. Iran-Contra was gone, was behind. Watching Ollie North and Bill Casey interacting during the getting of Congress to sign off on selling AWACS to Saudi Arabia; they liked one another. They liked one another's style. I have zero knowledge, but I would bet you a fair amount of money that Bill Casey was Ollie North's case officer for that whole operation.

ZIERLER: Do you have any insight into President Bush's decision-making on pardoning for the Iran-Contra scandal?

INMAN: I do not.

ZIERLER: Do you think he made the right moves, pardoning who he did when he did?

INMAN: Probably. You go back—this chain really begins with Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Nixon, essentially. Get political problems off the plate. Pardoning Weinberger and others. I've forgotten whom all he pardoned, but Weinberger is the one I remember most closely. Again, it was to get that off the agenda. You have a whole different sequence with Clinton on his last day in office, Marc Rich et al. Then with Trump's exercising his at the end as well. It's a constitutional authority that they gave to the chief executive. I'm not a great fan of it, over time.

ZIERLER: Some overall strategic questions to round out our conversation for today as they relate to the Bush administration. Given the fact that President Bush and his advisors successfully managed the peaceful conclusion to the Cold War, the dissolution of the Soviet empire, which did not have to go nearly as well as it did, who are some of the heroes in that story on the American side? Who managed that process as well as they did?

INMAN: It was the best functioning national security team in my adult lifetime. The president himself, his interest was in the outside world, not the domestic economy. He handed that over to Sununu and others and that's why he lost reelection. He was serene in dealing with the international challenges. In fact the biggest problem was to keep him from picking up the phone to call the head of state to start solving the problem rather than letting the process work. Scowcroft and Baker and Cheney, as a team—Cheney and Baker really didn't like one another. Baker was the closest to the president, and Scowcroft was the one he relied on. It simply was the smoothest functioning team throughout, as they dealt with it. And as you look at the accomplishments—Berlin Wall goes down, we low-key our response which did not put Gorbachev in a greater stress internally. We negotiate the reconciliation of Germany, reunification of Germany, then collapse of the Soviet Union, and Yeltsin coming to power. They did all of that without firing a shot. Now, you've got the Gulf War in there. That's something else to deal with and examine. Maybe as we get our next session started, we might start with that.

ZIERLER: Last question for today. In reflecting on your time on the advisory board, during this moment of transition, did you see the art and science of intelligence gathering as becoming something fundamentally different after the Cold War?

INMAN: Yeah, it did change. The focus was hugely on Russia, Soviet Union, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, and a fairly significant effort on the Middle East, largely because of our commitment for Israel's security, right to exist. The reorientation—what you're doing during the 1990s largely is drawing down, looking for the peace dividend, and it's 9/11 that totally changes—counterterrorism goes to the top of the list. You still worry about nuclear proliferation, but a major reorientation, and a major flow of resources, and after the 9/11 Commission, the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Clinton had envisioned that some reorganization of orientation might be necessary. He first gave the job to Les Aspin, who died of a heart attack. Then he turned to Dr. Harold Brown, former secretary of Defense, that had a commission that looked at organizing. The intelligence community made some pretty wild proposals. Dr. Brown at the end of it told me that was all very interesting, but they were into evolution not revolution. I did propose a director of National Intelligence, but also to split up CIA in that process.

ZIERLER: We'll pick it up for next time. We'll start with the Persian Gulf War.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, December 20th, 2021. Once again, it is my great pleasure to be back with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, as always, great pleasure to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, and mine, on this ongoing saga.

ZIERLER: Bob, today we're going to pick up in 1993 and the Clinton administration. To set the context there, I'm curious if anyone in Clinton's campaign prior to him winning the election reached out to you about the possibility of considering a major national security post in his administration.

INMAN: The approach actually came shortly after the transition started. There was a call from Little Rock from Warren Christopher, who, I guess, asked me would I welcome an appointment of the director of Central Intelligence. My response was very quickly to thank him for the flattering offer but the answer was no. I had done my service in the intelligence community and had no interest in revisiting that. I suggested that they look at Jim Woolsey, who had just completed a pretty highly classified study for Bob Gates looking at overhead reconnaissance assets. It was a first-rate study, so I would say he was up to date on some of the big issues if he were offered the job.

ZIERLER: Not secretary of Defense, though? You and Christopher never talked sec def?

INMAN: Not at all, not even a hint. Purely would I consider director of Central Intelligence, and I said no.

ZIERLER: Where were you in terms of your business interests at that point? What was your main project in 1993?

INMAN: I was serving on a number of large corporate boards, a number of large not-for-profit boards including Caltech, but my primary activity was venture capital, and I was busy writing checks. I probably had 12 or 14 by that point. I know by 1997 I had 22 that I had invested in, so I was pretty far along that line. In 1993, I was still serving on the Dell board, but I had gotten off of the Oracle board at that point, and after having waited almost a year, I had liquidated most of my Oracle holdings, which is what led me to have the money to invest in not only venture capital funds, but we built a house in Austin and paid cash for it, out of all of that.

ZIERLER: By way of further context, were you following the myriad challenges that Les Aspin was experiencing at the Pentagon, both domestic and abroad?

INMAN: From a distance. I guess you're leading me toward the—I got a call in November of 1993 that the president would like to have a conversation with me on how his national security team was doing. This was broader than just how was Woolsey doing, who had gotten the appointment. I was in New York. I agreed to go down. I guess the original invitation was to come have dinner in the quarters, but the president was tied up with other issues. I, in fact, had a sandwich by myself in the dining room on the family quarters. Finally, about 10:30, the president showed up.

ZIERLER: Had you met him before?

INMAN: No. The meeting ran almost two and a half hours.

ZIERLER: What was your impressions of Clinton?

INMAN: Very smart. Depth of knowledge of what had gone on was broader than I expected. We talked about what had not gone well—Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda. His depth of knowledge and understanding on all three of them was interesting. We talked more broadly about relations with NATO and out in the Far East.

ZIERLER: What about the breakup of Yugoslavia? Did that register as well?

INMAN: Yeah, but not in substantial detail at that point, but just as one of the ongoing trouble spots he was dealing with. He asked for my view on the performance of principal players. I was a longstanding admirer of Warren Christopher.

ZIERLER: Back to the Carter administration?

INMAN: Exactly. Actually, going even earlier than that, to some of his earliest service, when I had first met him, but where I had interacted with him substantially was in the Carter time. I'm trying to remember the exact date, but it was when I was director of the NSA and we had the fire in the embassy in Moscow, but we've covered that before. At any rate, when we finished the long conversation, he thanked me and said he had found it useful, and he would hope to be able to hold other conversations in the future. He said he would. By the lateness of the hour, I went back to the hotel, the Park Hyatt, and then flew back to New York.

ZIERLER: Did you have the sense that Clinton was feeling you out for a possible offer?

INMAN: None. My sensers were apparently not working. I didn't have a clue that this was a job interview.

ZIERLER: And you had no idea that Les Aspin was on shaky ground at this point?

INMAN: I knew he was on shaky ground. He described to me in some substantial detail what they had gone through in Somalia, and the request of the commander on the scene to have tanks, which Les Aspin had turned down without consulting with Clinton. Clinton found out about it after the fact. The Black Hawk Down whole episode, which had left him very unhappy.

ZIERLER: You go back to New York and then what happens?

INMAN: We go back to Austin, and I'm on my way out for a Caltech meeting, and got a call from the chief of staff saying that the president would like to talk to me that night. Where was I going to be? I explained I was in California for a Caltech trustee meeting. He said, "Well, he'd really like to talk to you, and he's going to offer you the job of secretary of Defense." And my instant reply was "Then I'm not going to take the call."

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: So we went through some exchanges back and forth. I explained the session with Reagan, when, "Speaking as your commander in chief—" that I was no longer on active duty, and I had no intention of going back to any active duty. He said, "Well, will you take the call if he doesn't offer you the job?" I said, "Well, I told him back in November that I would respond to offer advice when he asked for it." The call came about 10:30 in California, which meant it was about 12:30 in Washington. It went on for about an hour.

I go back to Austin. Over the next five weeks, I had three or four more additional calls asking my advice, what was going on, various things. I realized suddenly they were tracking me pretty carefully, and he surprised me on a mid-week call the second week of December by saying, "I've heard you're coming to Washington for a Center for Naval Analysis Trustee Meeting. I'd like you to meet with some of my people to get your sense of how they're performing." Warren Christopher, Tony Lake, and Mack McLarty. I agreed to do so.

ZIERLER: To go back to that first call with the president, did he make good on the chief of staff's promise not to offer you the job?

INMAN: Correct. A job was not mentioned in any of the subsequent telephone calls.

ZIERLER: Just to get a sense of your knee-jerk reaction, in comparing your rejection to Warren Christopher as DCI and the chief of staff as sec def, how much of the rejection was specifically about you not reentering the intelligence community, and how much of it was a blanket rejection of going back into government service?

INMAN: Blanket rejection of going back into government service.

ZIERLER: And you were happy. You were doing well in business. This was good.

INMAN: Very happy. I had a lot of things underway. I was suddenly prosperous for the first time in my life, on a substantial scale, and I was enjoying it.

ZIERLER: I bet your wife was happy, too.

INMAN: And sons, as well. I guess by this point, we had already bought the condominium on the Florida Panhandle, at the pressure of Admiral Weisner in 1984. The quality of our New Year's vacations had substantially escalated to include Hawaii and then London. We had bought the condominium in Beaver Creek in 1988. So, a lot going on, and happy with it. I simply had no interest in going back to government, and I was enjoying this new world of the private sector. So I show up and have an hour meeting with Warren Christopher, an hour meeting with Tony Lake, a half-hour meeting with the chief of staff. He told me that the president wanted me to come to the White House and have lunch with him the next day, and then said, "And Bobby, he's going to offer you the job of secretary of Defense." I didn't quite know how to turn down the lunch, so I sat down and made a list of all the things that I would want to see changed for there to be any possibility of my being a success as the secretary of Defense.

ZIERLER: Had you established a rapport with the president where he had broken down your defenses to the point where he felt confident offering you the job?

INMAN: Not quite yet. I don't know how he had gotten confident. They had done all their due diligence, et al. But I went into the lunch with my list of 18 items, and I started down them. Changing out people he had appointed to several senior posts in the Department of Defense. Very happy with Bill Perry as the deputy, but I reiterated at the time that if he was looking for a replacement for Aspin, he ought to take Bill Perry for that job. Unfettered direct access, I said, in dealing with Congress. Not having to clear my discussions and other things with the White House. Would keep him informed. I went through all 18 items. About the time I got to the third item, his anger began to show. He said, "You don't want me to be reelected. You're trying to sabotage my prospects of being reelected." By the time I got through the 18th item, not much food had been consumed, and he said, "Well, it's clear to me, you just don't want me to be reelected" and stormed out of the dining room.

I collected myself and went down, and exited. Didn't see Mack McLarty. Exited, and went back to my hotel. I went for a long walk down the banks of the Potomac. My wife was up in the Colorado condo, and I had called her to tell her the night before what had gone on, and that the luncheon had gone very poorly, and therefore I was comfortable we were off the hook and could relax. I got back to the hotel and there was a call waiting for me from Warren Christopher, needed to come see me that evening. I explained I had the chief of Naval operations coming to have dinner with me at 7:00. "What time will that be through?" "9:00." "I'll be there at 9:00."

I go through dinner with Frank Kelso, talk about—he was getting ready to retire—what life's like in the private sector, things he ought to do. Saw him off about 8:45. Go out in the lobby and there is Warren Christopher's security detail. He shows up with Mack McLarty and David Gergen, and about 15 minutes later, Vernon Jordan. We retreat up to my suite. Two hours of beating up on me—the president wanted to take a bipartisan approach to defense. This was following on the bipartisan approach for getting NAFTA approved. And that I had all the qualifications, and they couldn't find anybody else who had a comparable track record for working with Congress, both sides of the aisle, et al. And that if I didn't do it, it was purely greed, wanting to continue to make money in the private sector instead of serving my country and serving the president. This went on. Chris looked at his watch at 11:15 and then said, "Well, Bobby, the last plane just left National Airport, and we've completed our mission. It's now in the president's hands." They all cordially said goodbye. I went down to see them off in the lobby, and that was the end of the meeting.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep that well. At 6:00 in the morning, the president called me. He opened the conversation by going to—he had made no notes in the luncheon. He went down the list of 18 items in the order I had presented them, and agreed to every one of them. At that point, my defenses collapsed, and he asked me to accept his desire to appoint me to secretary of Defense, and I did. He said, "We told Les this afternoon that he's out, and he has taken it very poorly. We're worried that he might harm himself. He did not want it to be a joint announcement, so we'll announce Les's departure at 10:00 in the morning, and then we'll want to announce your nomination later in the afternoon."

I went on through the day and went to a dinner with the trustees of Center for Naval Analysis at the Navy Yard. As the dinner was going on, there was some hustling going on outside of where we were having dinner. Then some people began to appear on the edges of it. I recognized the Pentagon correspondent for ABC and a couple of others motion to me. I'm sorry, they had done the Aspin announcement that afternoon, 4:00, and they were going to do mine the next morning. The media reaction had not been good, so to offset that, they leaked that I was going to be the nominee the next morning. I declined to talk to the media.

ZIERLER: Did you see Safire as reigniting a vendetta or a spat that went all the way back to the Carter administration?

INMAN: Actually, the Reagan administration, and the Casey [issues]—that's what I attributed it to. I didn't realize it had greater depth to it. I had in the process of talking with McLarty and company and having watched the problem the attorney general designee got into over a maid, and I had told them they should be aware that we had a Hispanic citizen who worked as a personal contractor, not as an employee, but that that was close enough to fit in the same category that had bedeviled—well, somebody leaked that to Safire. That was a principal subject of his second attack.

That was for me the—given the welching on the list, and the three different intersections to confirm that I was in for rough hearings directed by the majority leader, I called the White House to tell them I was resigning. I would not go forward with the confirmation. McLarty urged me to wait—wanted to know, could they change my view? I said no, the decision was final. He said, "Well, the president is on his way to Hope. His mother has just passed, and he's going down from that, and he will go from there directly to Moscow for his first visit with Yeltsin. Can we hold off the announcement until he's back from Moscow?" I said, "Yes." In the furor though of the leaks in the media, the hostile stories—remember, I had, my entire life, managed to stay out of the media. When I'd gotten it, it had always been positive. This was my first exposure to a running campaign. I began to get some inkling that this was a larger effort, opposing my nomination, which came as a total surprise to me. I didn't understand it at the time.

ZIERLER: What kind of larger effort?

INMAN: I'll come to that. The president came back and the next morning called. It was a very pleasant conversation, actually. He said he was sorry that I decided, but he understood. I think he by this point had seen that it wasn't going to be such a smooth, easy nomination as he'd expected and I'd expected. We talked about who should be asked to be the successor, and I pressed again on Bill Perry. He said, "Well, you and the vice president are in agreement. Tony Lake doesn't think it's the right choice." What they were after—and it comes out later—why they were—Christopher didn't like to go on television. Tony Lake didn't like to go on television. Les Aspin was a disaster when he did. They wanted a sec def that they could put on television regularly to defend the administration's position broadly on foreign policy. Because I had appeared on television a fair amount in the past, always with plaudits, that was part of the reason they were pressing to get me to take the job.

Bill turned out to be great in the job, one of the best secretaries of Defense ever. I went to a Temple-Inland board meeting and one of the board members, a major Jewish fundraiser, told me about the calls that he had gotten the night of the nomination of what a terrible thing this was for Israel and why they ought to marshal all their efforts to avoid it. I sent my letter, withdrawing my nomination. Nice letter from the president acknowledging it, thanking me for considering. They were going to release those the next morning. Got a call about 9:00 the next morning from Gergen. They had decided they would prefer that I release the letters in Austin, rather than they releasing them at the White House. I said, "Okay, I'll do that." Local press conference. Made a couple calls, scheduled a room at the Hyatt. What I did not know was that Tom Johnson, CNN, having been alerted, got a live feed to CNN, and the press conference ran globally for an hour. Lessons learned—don't go on television when you're angry, and don't go for an hour under any circumstances. But there had been a New York Times article that morning with yet another attack on me.

ZIERLER: Also from Safire?

INMAN: I can't remember whether this one was just Safire or just reporting from one of the other reporters, but it was about what a tough nomination it was going to be, et al. The media reaction was furious. I specifically attacked Safire. Second lesson—never attack a journalist. All the other journalists, no matter their persuasion, will immediately hover in to protect him. I was asked to go on CNN at 4:00—I think it was CNN—with Judy Woodruff. Then I was asked to go on Nightline, where I had appeared a great many times in the past. I later found out from talking to the media, about 1:00 that afternoon, there were calls to every major media outlet, anonymous calls, that I had withdrawn because I was gay. There were another round of calls at 5:00 in the afternoon; no one reported that. No one told me in advance that that rumor was being pedaled. At Nightline, there was sort of—later I realized there was an allusion to it, but I didn't recognize it at the time.

Turns out those were all Likud calls. Rafi Eitan, who had been manager for [Jonathan] Pollard, was the case officer in this case. Fourteen months later, I got a letter from the retired head of Mossad with a translation of an article that had appeared in Hebrew and had been translated, called "The Inman Affair." It went through the entire episode, driven largely by Sharon, and the anger left over from my cutting back their immediate access to satellite photography when I was the deputy DCI, and his going to Weinberger, and Weinberger supporting me and not him. That was the fundamental basis that I was bound to be—then they blamed me for Pollard, for which I had had no role whatsoever. But the article went into substantial detail, and the said, "We think you'll find this of interest, and it wasn't us." Then there were later assurances as well from the Israeli intelligence community, to tell me this was a Likud Party assault on my nomination, to which the Israeli intelligence community played no role.

Now, I never went public with that side of it, other than my assault on Safire, not knowing that he was being the mouthpiece for a much broader effort, because I didn't want the anti-Semitic sense to be that what I was raising was a way to fend off the criticism. Other criticisms came from people who had been preparing all kinds of coverage for the hearings that were lost. Does that beat this dead horse enough?

ZIERLER: Not yet! Bob, I want to go back to your understanding of the alliance between Casey and Safire. What was your understanding? On what basis were they aligned?

INMAN: In 1966, Casey decided to run for Congress and defeated the Republican incumbent in the primary, who was the only candidate, the only Eastern representative, who had supported Goldwater in the 1964 campaign. Safire was Casey's campaign manager, and so their relationship went all the way back to that and was very close. I've told you earlier the episode when the New York Times bureau chief called, when Sulzberger was trying to reach Casey, and he was getting the runaround, and "This is the phone number that Bill Safire uses," and it was in fact a private line into Casey's quarters. But in this case, it went far beyond the Casey episode. It was clearly a determined campaign that I would be terrible for Israel if I got the job.

Reflecting over the years, I had been pretty peremptory in cutting off their ability to automatically requisition our satellite photography, and then after I had left government, I had on several occasions favored the Labor Party, been critical of Likud, so they had some basis, I guess, for animosity, but it was an interesting demonstration of the power they had in the media, and the ability to move the majority leader to insist on hearings to air all of the—there were never specific details about all of my bad activities that would make me a terrible secretary of Defense.

ZIERLER: Beyond Casey's reputation as a political infighter, is your sense that his relationship with Safire or other journalists was ever a national security issue?

INMAN: Well, later, it was a substantial concern to me, after Bob Woodward published The View, and when confronted, Casey denied anything, but I found out from the security detail that Woodward had been a frequent breakfast guest at the Casey residence. Then later, when I asked Bob about it, he was forthright that Casey let him read his notes. As best I could put it together, Casey had financial success from the two books he had written on avoiding taxes. He had planned on writing more books when he left the DCI job and he wanted the approbation of a well-known writer that he was a good writer, so that's why he let him read his notes that he kept in his journal. Was that a national security concern? It sure was.

ZIERLER: In reviewing your statements and policies on Israel, it strikes me that what you were doing was treating Israel like a different country where the U.S. national interest was always of paramount concern. What did you learn about Israel's special status in Washington throughout these episodes?

INMAN: I learned several things. The political power that accrues to donating to candidates, access. They had over a long period of time been very generous donors, largely in the Democratic column, but they also had their favorite Republicans that they donated to. In the Bush clan, I encountered the pretty strong view that a major factor in Bush's defeat to Clinton was his ban on support for building the settlements in Israel, and that that had prompted a very significant shift of donations by the Jewish community to Clinton. I don't know the validity of that. I heard it a number of times. I think it in fact had very little impact on the outcome of the campaign. He lost because of public portrayal that he was unknowledgeable, insensitive on domestic matters, which impacted people's pocketbook, and we were in a recession. The Gulf War was forgotten, and people voted their pocketbooks. I don't think the Israeli factor was significant or the Jewish contributions were significant in that shift.

ZIERLER: Did you chafe specifically at the notion that you were driven by some sort of anti-Semitic policies when in fact you were just looking at the security relationship between the U.S. and Israel?

INMAN: Absolutely. And in my conversations with—Tom Korologos was the lobbyist whose name I could not remember earlier that Eli Jacobs had talked to. It was clear from those conversations of what was driving Dole, and that I therefore was going to be into what I considered very unfair, hostile, and just—I didn't want the job in the first place. I had very reluctantly agreed to do it, and now I was being attacked, and my reputation was being attacked. It was about three days after the calls when, again, it was the bureau chief of the L.A. Times who told me about the calls saying that I was gay, and that that was the reason I was withdrawing. So it was a real effort to smear me, and to make sure I was never a significant political factor influencing things in Washington again. And candidly, my press conference probably took care of that. I was generally portrayed after that as being crazy, lunatic, whatever, for a period of time.

ZIERLER: To go back to the idea that in your initial call with President Clinton, your sensors were down and you did not realize at the time that he was feeling you out for a possible offer, when he did successfully offer you the position of sec def, were your sensors also down about the possibility of this campaign against you?

INMAN: Yes, yes. I had no reason to expect any kind of campaign against me. To that point in time, I had enjoyed pretty spectacularly positive press coverage over the years. Even back in NSA and the public cryptography days, those had eventually turned out in a very positive sense. You let yourself get lulled into…[the lesson is] never read your own press clippings!

ZIERLER: [laughs] Then it comes to the inevitable question—once you do accept, and you see that your reputation, your hard-earned reputation, is being attacked, why not go on the counterattack? Why not go before Congress to clear your own name? Doesn't it give your enemies the opportunity to say, "See, I was right," when you back down?

INMAN: If I had wanted the job, I would have done that. I hadn't wanted to go. It was going to totally disrupt my ongoing business activities. Maybe the Gergen allegation that if I didn't accept it was greed had a little element of truth to it. I was certainly enjoying being prosperous. Dell had gone public, and that had very substantially added to the net worth. It had continued to build until the dot-com bust in March of 2000, when on paper I was wealthy beyond any means I had ever assumed, and a day later I was worth less than half that amount.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Still, I was not left in poverty circumstances. But in 1997 I had paid cash for an apartment in New York. With residences in Colorado, Florida, New York, Austin, all debt-free, I enjoyed that lifestyle. Had I had any aspiration to run for public office or to serve in public office, then I would have probably gone to fight. In the absence of it, I was relieved to be out of it, just sorry I had gone through the painful period. I later found the major leaker in the White House was George Stephanopoulos. He was the only one to take the rumor about [me being] gay and propagate it further, put it in his book that he eventually wrote. In spite of the long years with Ted Koppel and Nightline, I have never appeared on ABC again subsequent to Stephanopoulos going there. As fond as I was of Diane Sawyer, I've not gone again.

ZIERLER: Up to the point when you accepted the offer but before actually going through with the nomination process, did you divest yourself at all? Did you step down from any boards? Was there anything that you needed to rebuild as a result of rejecting this?

INMAN: Standard practice, you resign when you're confirmed, and there's no requirement to do it beforehand. The one miscue, the general counsel at Dell told Michael Dell that I needed to be off that board with the announcement, and so they announced that after my resignation from the board on the 17th of December when the announcement was made, and it caused for some sharp views between young Michael and me, because they didn't bother to contact me, and they didn't recognize—none of the other corporate boards raised that issues at all, or any of the non-for-profits. The general view was everybody welcomed me, that I was still a member, so it had no impact on my ongoing private-sector activities. I had stopped doing speeches for pay a decade earlier. I got bored of hearing my own voice speaking in front of groups that I wasn't particularly interested in anyway. Could there have been an impact on Washington Speakers Bureau on finding me lucrative appointments? Maybe, but I wasn't doing any of those, so that was not a factor.

ZIERLER: As a planner and as a strategic thinker, surely you had given thought about what vision you wanted to articulate for the Department of Defense, both domestically and internationally. Had you gone through with the process, first on the domestic side, two of the major issues that you would have faced as sec def would have been women serving in the military and "Don't ask, don't tell." What were your ideas on both? What would you have said to the Congress if you had gone through?

ZIERLER: Internationally, what about the need to articulate a strategic vision for the United States in the post-Cold War world? What would you have wanted to say on that platform?

INMAN: First, notwithstanding the fact that they were looking for somebody to appear on the Sunday talk shows, my view was that U.S. policy should be framed by the secretary of State or the president. The secretary of Defense should be talking about military matters and alliances and how you have sustained those and made them viable. But did I expect to be a voice on those discussions? Yes. I was a strong believer in arms control negotiations. I felt we had far more nuclear warheads than we needed and that a significant rebalancing of the triad was in order. That would have earned me a lot of friction inside the Department of Defense.

I was deeply troubled by the whole acquisition process and how long it took. When I first went in the Navy, from research to something deployed was four to five years. By the 1990s, given McNamara's activity and then all the layering that Congress had done, 12 to 15 years had become the norm, which had driven up cost, and said that often the technology, when it got deployed, was already second generation. It was out of date, of the cutting edge. So the need to dramatically take risks of being wrong to accelerate getting—but hold people accountable for missteps, cost overruns, et al.

I was a strong believer in forward deployment. That I had been taken with Bronisław Geremek's Common European House but with a strong North American apartment. Maintaining our physical presence on land and sea, in Europe, and in Asia. I had looked at what we had developed—incidents at sea, which John Warner, secretary of the Navy had negotiated, and to reduce the prospect of conflict when you encountered a threat. I would have been very interested in trying to do the same thing with China, though China was not yet moving toward having a blue-water navy. It was still a coastal navy in that timeframe, with their focus on large ground forces and nuclear warheads, land-based.

ZIERLER: What about the U.S. interest in involving itself in local conflicts in places like Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Somalia? Was that the right approach in a post-Cold War world?

INMAN: First, I believe any time you entered one of those, you should know as you were going in what was the exit strategy. Was this a permanent commitment you were undertaking, and was that U.S. interest that drove that? If not, and if you were intervening in something, how were you going to get out of it? No open-ended commitments that were not tied directly to U.S. national security.

I guess I started down that trail earlier of substantial reduction in our nuclear weapons. Hopefully negotiate, getting Russia to go along with us in reducing the numbers. Years later, at a dinner at Secretary Kissinger's place in New York, he had recently done an op-ed with George Schulz and Bill Perry and Sam Nunn in which they, all four, advocated going to zero nuclear weapons. He had concluded that was a mistake; he shouldn't have done that. But the issue was, what was the right number of nuclear weapons? My Inman's "sally-forth" was, how many warheads do we think the British, the French, the Chinese, the Indians, the Pakistanis, and the Israelis have, total? Combine them all. Matching that total ought to be all the nuclear warheads that Russia and The U.S. needed to have to maintain supremacy. He sort of liked that, but he didn't use it anywhere out in public, nor did I ever go out and try to sell the case.

The intelligence sharing was a pretty significant issue in alliances, and in the strength of those alliances. I had wanted a better look at what we shared. Clearly, there was not a lot you could share on the communications intelligence side, except within the Five Eyes, which we had done for years—Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. But on imagery, on warning info, I believed that you should be able to get rid of the compartments and get them down to secret level, confidential in some cases, and be able to share that pretty broadly across alliances, simply to let other countries more clearly understand, what was the evidence of threats that might have to be confronted or dealt with? Why would you want to do that? For strategic planning, for planning how would you deal with a crisis if it erupted where military force was likely to be put in play, and to make sure that our partners in that case, particularly if you were using forces based in their country, could have a clearer understanding of threats and risks involved.

ZIERLER: In thinking about the World Trade Center bombing in February of 1993, between your long experience in the intelligence world and thinking about possibly becoming secretary of Defense, was the notion of some military confrontation with Islamist terrorists something that was on your radar at that point?

INMAN: Not yet. Remember that that's five years before Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, but it is after the bombing of the embassies in Kuwait and Beirut. I guess I wasn't as forward-thinking as I ought to have been. I viewed it as a problem to be dealt with elsewhere in the world, not domestically.

ZIERLER: But the fact that the bombers had allegiances in the Middle East, did you not view it as an international problem? It was a domestic crime problem, to be handled by the FBI?

INMAN: I think we've covered this in some of our earlier conversations. I had a very strong view on Iran and Iran's role in supporting, and I knew that Syria had supported, and I knew that Libya had supported terrorist activities throughout the 1980s et al. Was I conscious of international support for it? The answer was yes. I looked for what measures you could use, but I was not disposed to use force at that point. Clearly, in my view, the 1993 episode should have prompted a significant enhancement of our ability to track foreign terrorist activities, much broader than we did. It turns out George Tenet did make some effort to do that, by just shifting assets, not by adding assets. It wasn't until after 9/11 that we began pouring new resources into counterterrorism et al. 1993 should have at least led to a significant enhancement of our investment in tracking international terrorist activity. It did not.

INMAN: Remember, I've already demonstrated my reluctance to go change regimes by force. I agreed with Colin Powell in this case, of the broken pottery routine—you broke it; you own it. I was comfortable he was contained at that stage of the game. But my larger argument, particularly as we get into 2002, was that Iran was the bigger problem, and that if we went into Iraq, we were going to take our eyes totally off of Iran, in the process, and we did. We see the results of that 20 years later with a much stronger Iran, much more deeply involved all across the Middle East, all inimical to U.S. national security interests. There is always a challenge of resources applied. Inevitably we got into a conflict, money would flow, and then after a while there's the look for the peace dividend, and the money declines. It's very wasteful, because it always costs more when you surge back, but it's just the reality of the political process and the budgeting process between the executive and Congress. My reluctance to go use force was tied to, "What are the consequences, where is this likely to escalate to, and what is your commitments in that process, that you need to tend to?"

ZIERLER: Last topic for today, just to bring some closure to the secretary of Defense episode. I'm sure you know the saying, "If you want a friend in Washington, you should get yourself a dog." I wonder, though, because you were so surprised, you had not prepared yourself for this campaign against you, just on a personal level, if you had felt particularly hurt or betrayed by anyone who you thought you could have trusted?

INMAN: Well, there were a number of people who didn't rise to my defense. When the Safire articles started, I called Jim Woolsey and expressed my dismay, and a couple of former members of Congress. When I resigned, I got some Washington backlash, which—"We didn't know you were that unhappy about this." "You were too thin-skinned"; that was the phrase I heard repeatedly. But one of my favorite calls, a civilian Naval intelligence employee that I had brought along and brought up to be the deputy DNI after I had gone—Rich Haver, wonderful talented guy, he called and said, "Admiral, you used to always caution us about burning bridges, and you have just burned every bridge in sight" was his response to the press conference.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Which was pretty accurate, as a matter of fact. Of regrets, regrets of talking for more than 15 minutes. Even if I had only thought I was talking to local reporters that I knew, and not aware that CNN was streaming it globally in the timeframe, that was just poorly done.

ZIERLER: If you had limited yourself just to those 15 minutes, what would you have wanted to convey, and stripped everything else out?

INMAN: Well, I would have not gone into my long attack on The New York Times that I did. It didn't really accomplish anything, other than making me feel good for having aired it all. I would not have gone on with Judy Woodruff or Ted Koppel. I was being encouraged to do all those by David Gergen. Tom Johnson, whom I had known for many years, who had gotten the plugin and did the worldwide press conference and then the others that followed CNN where he was president at that point, he asked me to do one more interview, with Larry King, because he did not want the last public image of me to be the one that had occurred in the press conference. So I did Larry King, and he was very fair, in the questions, the discussion. But what was the big difference? I wasn't angry, when I went on. That was the other lesson learned—be very careful about speaking to the media in any form immediately while you're angry. Admiral Taylor's advice years before of conservation of enemies.

ZIERLER: [laughs]

INMAN: Don't go creating them where they're not necessary.

ZIERLER: On that note, we'll pick up in the new year, on your return back to private life and particularly some of your work with Caltech as a trustee.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Monday, January 3rd, 2022. I am delighted to be back with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, as always, wonderful to be with you, and Happy New Year, sir.

INMAN: Thank you, David, same to you.

ZIERLER: Today we're going to pick up on a discussion that we covered in some detail in our very first conversation, but it really requires deeper discussion now, and that is the strategic circumstances that ultimately brought you on board as a trustee at Caltech. To start at the Institute side, once you joined the board and got an awareness of all of the situations, all of the things that Caltech was dealing with at that point, what were some of the biggest issues vis a vis NASA, that you were dealing with then?

INMAN: Ed Stone was the director of JPL, of course an eminent scientist, highly regarded for the Voyager missions et al that he had shepherded before becoming the director. The back and forth with NASA had more to do with what launch vehicles would be used, and the impact of that on the weight of the satellites being prepared. We had a launch scheduled, a year in advance, I guess. Bud Wheelon was the chairman of the JPL committee at that point, and I was made the vice chairman right after I joined it. We interacted about problems with NASA. They seemed manageable, but we didn't get a lot of detail. We ended up with a mission failure. The mission was launched on the NASA preferred launch vehicle, which was cheaper for NASA. The failure, as we pursued to understand it—lack of redundancy. In order to get the weight down to the level that would enable the use of the launch vehicle NASA wanted to use meant you'd have almost no backup, and therefore there was no ability as you got into space and had troubles, to in fact correct it. What was particularly troubling to the JPL committee was that we had not been told by management the tradeoffs they were making, the giving up—in order to meet the weight requirements, the giving up of redundancy, which significantly increased the risk of failure. Our conclusion at the end of all of that was that we needed to change out the leadership of JPL, and we needed to make it clear that there needed to be a lot more focus on risk and making sure the committee was fully informed in that process.

Along the way, Bud stepped down as chairman of the committee. I became chair for quite a long while. We set out, with a search committee, to hire a new director of JPL. We looked at an awful lot of candidates. We came down to NASA's preferred candidate, Mike Griffin, and our own Charles Elachi, who was the youngest member of the Executive Committee, had been on it for a long time. We concluded that both his personality, his technical knowledge, his deep knowledge of Caltech where he had earned his PhD was such that he was the candidate we wanted to go with. Had quite a battle with NASA. They ultimately acceded to our desire to put Elachi in. Charles did a fabulous job. Over time, other people stopped making decisions. A number of people left who thought they would never have a chance to move up to be the director. So we went from Dan Goldin, with whom I'd had that scuffle, to Sean O'Keefe. We went from Tom Everhart as the president, interim break, to David Baltimore, who was a wonderful president, but he and Sean O'Keefe did not hit it off well, so I found myself, since I had known Sean back in the days when he had been in OSD and then acting secretary of the Navy and then secretary of the Navy—I had known him earlier when he had been a senior staffer for Senator Stevens from Alaska, who was chairing the appropriations committee.

Let me back up just as little. As we worked through our problems, made the change of leadership at JPL, Tom Everhart watching all that decided that we should also spend some effort on Caltech's relationship with Congress. We brought Gayle Wilson onto the board, and we began a process of the president of Caltech and Gayle Wilson and me visiting with various members of Congress. Ended up doing some presentations and briefings along the way, to broaden the general knowledge of Caltech and its capabilities among the committee. There were some interesting sessions. We went in to see the relatively new speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and turned out he had an intense interest in science in general. He had put Representative Walker of Pennsylvania as chairman of the Science Committee.

We're having a meeting; we're going over the whole range of interests Caltech was working on—the National Science Foundation and other things, beyond just the NASA management responsibility. As the speaker got more interested in what we were doing, needing more support, he sent for Walker, and went through the rundown, and then told him to see that the Science Committee made sure all those things got enacted in authorization and appropriations. It began an expansion of our interaction with members of the Science Committee, members of the Appropriations Committee. Gayle and I went back to meet with them, and other members of the JPL Committee joined us for some of those. We went into an era of significant trustee interaction with members of Congress on behalf of Caltech, and of JPL. We didn't drop the JPL; we added the additional responsibilities.

When Tom retired, that activity continued pretty aggressively, but we weren't spending as much time meeting with members of Congress as we had. In the interim, Charles is in the job taking over that role. It turned out in our interaction with the appropriations subcommittee, which was chaired by a congressman from Houston—he became a huge fan of JPL, and of Charles Elachi.

ZIERLER: This is Congressman Culberson you're referring to?

INMAN: Exactly. And we had a good long run, years, where if things weren't going well with NASA, Culberson would put everything back in the budget. Expanding budgets. I realize I'm glossing over so many things. In the early part of this tenure, we had declining missions, and we went through a very significant downsizing of JPL. It was pretty painful. I think at our peak we were over 9,000 employees, and we ended up with a little over 5,000. As JPL complained that NASA wasn't giving them their fair share of new missions, Caltech put together a special committee to look at all of that, chaired by a new committee member, a new trustee named Kent Kresa. We went through a series of presentations, and ultimately, Kresa came down saying, "Stop complaining that you're not getting assigned what you think is your fair share. Go compete! You've got the competence to do it. Look at all of the variance programs NASA has got, and bid on them!

ZIERLER: This is the perspective of the private sector.

ZIERLER: I'm with you. [laughs]

INMAN: You can tell a little of the difference in the general level of conversation. Picking back up—when I reached 72, I stepped down as being chairman of the JPL Committee, but I continued to serve on it. Kent Kresa took it over briefly, then he became chairman of the Board of Trustees. Charlie Trimble took over the committee, but in dialogue with Kent, we decided that we needed a sharper focus on the managing of JPL. The Committee was large. Trustees loved being on it. We tracked all the programs, their success, but spent almost no time looking at the actual managing of JPL.

A subcommittee was created of the JPL Committee, the JPL Subcommittee for Governance. All of its members had to be clearable for clearances. My own clearances I still held from NSA and CIA. Kent had had all his clearances when he was running Northrop Grumman, and we managed to get them for a couple of other members. In addition to the regular meetings to look at overall governance, we began holding meetings reviewing the classified programs that JPL was doing for non-NASA customers. This is where JPL managed to continue to enhance being at the cutting edge. That's about as far as I can go in describing it. The programs were truly cutting-edge, mostly for the intelligence community but occasionally for some other very sensitive DOD programs. They were so successful that we began to worry we were going to exceed—there was a general agreement with NASA that we could take up to 20% of JPL's overall work from non-NASA customers. A couple of the successful programs began to grow and expand, and it looked as though we may exceed that 20% level.

We had gone through yet another transition of NASA leadership. Charlie Bolden, who had been a NASA astronaut, took over. It took a while to get him to understand and appreciate that we were a federally funded FFRDC, not a [government] civil service laboratory. Worked our way through those problems. But he resented the interference of Congress adding programs, particularly focused on dialogue with Culberson. At one point, he instructed that there should be no interaction with Congress on behalf of JPL. That resulted in Culberson calling Bolden in front of his subcommittee and threatening to shut off all of NASA's programs if that was not released.

ZIERLER: Whoa!

INMAN: Bolden backed down. Dialogue continued. I lowered my profile in that process. But we had gone from having David Baltimore to Jean-Lou Chameau, and then on to the happy arrival of Tom Rosenbaum. We went through our next search for a new JPL director. Charles had settled on moving a former PhD student of his, who he hired, who he steadily moved up the management ranks. He was a South African. Charles, we got around finally to getting him to agree that it was time for him to step down. He didn't think we needed the search; the successor was Jakob van Zyl. Nonetheless, Tom did put together the search committee. Diana [Jergovic] and I co-chaired it. We set out to look at the internal candidates, but also to look outside.

From inside, we were told we ought to look at Mike Watkins, who had left and gone to the University of Texas at Austin, where he had gotten his PhD, to try to enhance their role in the space business. We concluded pretty quickly that he was a viable candidate, so we added him to the mix. We finally sent five names up to Tom, the president, because the president makes the choice. Nobody thought Jakob was a good choice except for Charles Elachi. It came down to several other insiders and Mike Watkins, and Tom selected Mike Watkins.

We had a real challenge with NASA, because they had separately decided on an outsider that they wanted—not Jakob, not Mike Watkins, but Bobby Braun. We did not select their chosen candidate. Reluctantly, they bought off on Mike Watkins, who had a real challenge of repairing—what had come out of the search committee was deep resentment among the other NASA centers at how many of the contracts were coming to JPL and all their attention. The other factor in the search, which really led to Watkins, was substantial concern, particularly at NASA, about our ability to successfully execute all the programs we had, so the deciding factor in going with Watkins was his past experience managing the GRACE programs very successfully before he left to go to UT Austin. Comfortable that he was going to focus on risk management as a first priority, and the second priority on dramatically improving relationships with the other NASA centers, sending business to the other NASA centers, where it was feasible to do so, then with those two efforts, to improve overall relations with NASA.

We already had had great early success with the small Mars landers, Spirit and Opportunity, and we were now to the stage of a significantly larger and much more complex landing system with Curiosity, which was executed by Mike Watkins, and then moved on to the much more complex challenge of Perseverance. Some of our bright young engineers came up with the idea of adding to Perseverance a helicopter that would be tucked in underneath and carried up to successfully land and to prove the feasibility that you could actually fly on a planet with a totally different—no gravity at all. Very hard sell to persuade NASA to let us add Ingenuity. They finally very reluctantly agreed, and as you know, not only did Perseverance land with Ingenuity successfully where we wanted it, but then Ingenuity successfully flew. If you track all the media coverage, you would believe that the idea of Ingenuity was NASA's, that we had executed. So with failure, it's pretty easy to find scapegoats. With success, you can have a great many different fathers. But that didn't bother us; we were happy to have it. It has continued to go well.

But it set us up for the years out ahead. What did we do next? Perseverance is in the process of taking core samples, and out, five years out, a mission to land and bring back those caches. Mars lander, recovery, launch-back—that's the biggest problem out in front of JPL in the near term. As NASA is awarded contracts, it's a shared mission with other labs and with the European Space Agency, which makes it a far more complex problem to manage. Then Culberson, before he lost his seat in 2000, had begun adding substantial money for exploration of the moons around Jupiter, a lander to follow on what we've already learned about Jupiter and its moons. When Culberson lost, there was a general view that that was probably dead, but it's not dead; it's still out there, further out on the horizon.

Mike stepped down. The deputy director who has been with us for some years, retired Air Force lieutenant general, is now currently acting, and new search committee, co-chaired by John Kutler and David Thompson, our new chairman-elect, who is now serving as new chairman of the Board of Trustees. We have sent forward three names to Tom, one an outsider, potentially very exciting choice, and two insiders. That resides with Tom, and I probably shouldn't go any further into that at this stage.

ZIERLER: I wonder if you can comment, just on a general level, what are you looking for in terms of leadership characteristics and technical know-how for what JPL needs right now?

INMAN: First, technical know-how is mandatory. There's a need to work on improving relations, because we've got yet another—every time we go through a change in the leadership of NASA, we have a series of problems. First because we usually get in an interim stage and the ranking civilian is a civil, non-political appointment, is a civil [servant], who has come up from one of the other labs. Once again, the specter of jealousy, of JPL's role as an FFRDC pops up. We are slowly working our way through that same crisis with the new administrator and deputy administrator. I think some progress is being made. Tom is spending a fair amount of time on it, and the interim director is. But it gets caught up in who is going to be the new director of the lab. The shift is, as we focus on director, what after Mars? We've got these big programs to execute over the next five or six years. Is it time to look at interstellar? And if you're looking at interstellar, what are the critical technical issues? Well, a new one is propulsion. Propulsion is already an issue for getting out to Jupiter's moons and landing, but if you're thinking about interstellar, it's huge.

ZIERLER: With all of the excitement around the launch of the James Webb Telescope, what does that mean for JPL, all of the things that the Webb Telescope might discover, and where that leaves JPL in the mix?

INMAN: You've leaped ahead of me, because Webb may well tell us where we should be focusing in interstellar, and what we should be thinking about. What should JPL be doing 15 years from now? You lay the groundwork for that over the next five years, while you're executing the challenges you have. I think we ultimately interviewed some 22 candidates. The outside candidate just awed the committee with the clear focus on how do you go about organizing, banking, moving toward what comes after Mars. A lot of NASA experience, but no JPL experience. That was the prime problem we had inside the search committee, from a couple of members who believed that JPL experience was mandatory. We've leaped over that in our recommendations to Tom.

ZIERLER: Is the mandate to present Tom with three candidates, or that's just the number of people that you wanted him to consider?

INMAN: It was the number we thought was appropriate to send forward. We could have sent five. We narrowed it down to three. An insider with strong technical background who could serve for ten years, but there were some questions about the viability. The outsider who could probably serve ten years. Then we added an insider with broad knowledge, we had confidence could run the place effectively, probably only about five to seven years. Tom is in the process of interviewing and coming to closure. I'm optimistic it could be a very exciting outcome.

ZIERLER: The question of what JPL should be doing 15 years from now, obviously space is a very big place and there's lots of different kinds of technical expertise that would be important at this juncture. Exoplanets, interstellar, you name it—what are the specific areas of expertise that you think are most important for JPL to focus on?

INMAN: I haven't given a lot of thought to that, David, so I'm a little reluctant to start throwing out responses. The Decadal Survey, which was just finished, which Fiona Harrison from Caltech helped shepherd through the National Science Foundation, lays out a lot of areas of interest. That's probably where one should look first. If you're exploring further in different interviews where should JPL be going, where should NASA be going, where should Caltech, interviewing Fiona Harrison probably would be a good idea.

ZIERLER: Bob, what about for you? What are you most interested in, in terms of ongoing space exploration? What do you want to be around for, for the next big discovery?

INMAN: Remember I'll be 91 in April, so one should be at least honest to say that there may be a limit out there of how much—hopefully the next five years, I'll see through. I'd love to make it through ten. Remember that my mother did live to 104 and was in pretty good shape until 102 and a half. The five years—successful operation for Mars recovery, bringing back the samples. Success in moving forward on Europa around Jupiter, and what that will tell us about a very different world from the dry barren world that we've been dealing with on Mars. My focus, as I look at how long it takes us to get even to Jupiter, it leads me to this focus on propulsion. Who do we team up with? Is that the Marshall Space Flight Center? Where do we find the expertise? Can we find it in partnership? Do we have to grow it inside? But it's clear to me that we aren't going to make breakthroughs on interstellar without significant dramatic enhancement in propulsion.

ZIERLER: I want to go back 30 years, again to when you joined the board at Caltech. Was there a national security dimension that your expertise was useful for in the NASA relationship?

INMAN: That really came later in work we undertook for non-NASA customers. It came from applying cutting-edge technical competence in reconnaissance to what you could do in space. I'm tiptoeing through the minefields here. Knowledge gained from astronomy, from our state-of-the-art activities that became the Keck laboratories, lead you to at least consider, is it feasible to try to develop that kind of competence in space? That's probably as far as we ought to go, in that case.

More broadly, Caltech as an institution was not really involved in doing things for the intelligence community. Individual scientists had interactions that they were doing. As I watched the progress through the years, breakthroughs by people like Frances Arnold and others it turns out there are potential substantial DOD applications of those technologies, enhancing overall your capabilities. That's not the only area by any means.

There is a long-running institution that has sort of gone into sunset phase now, a group called the JASONs, which was put together to give advice on state-of-the-art problems, to DOD, Department of Energy, others. Some very prominent Caltech scientists, including one who became for a while the provost, was deeply involved with the JASONs, later managed to—so Caltech's interaction on the national security side was not really driven by JPL, the NASA connections, at that point.

ZIERLER: A very different line of questioning—in 2001, you became Professor Inman at the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. First, tell me what was the initial point of connection that led you to consider that opportunity?

INMAN: When I came to the private sector and agreed to put together the first large-scale joint research organization owned by competing corporations, some of the potential members of that consortium were very worried about anti-trust. The Washington representative for Control Data was a wonderfully talented lady named Lois Rice, mother of Susan Rice, prominent in the Obama and again in the current Biden administration. Lois had particularly good relationships on the Hill, so she and I together worked with Peter Rodino, who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and in three months had through the House, through the Senate, signed by the president, the National Cooperative Research Act of 1984, which said first if collaborating companies declare to the executive branch that they are going to collaborate, that automatically reduces antitrust liability from treble damage to single damage, and that if there is a lawsuit alleging antitrust behavior, the judge has to consider the international marketplace, not just the domestic marketplace. That opened the door for a great many consortia that have been created over the years, subsequent years since 1984.

Once a semester, the four of us would be together, and that session for the students usually was moderated by Elspeth Rostow, former dean of the LBJ school, still on the faculty. A couple of times when she couldn't do it, when she was traveling internationally, it was chaired by the dean of the law school. Then Strauss went off to Moscow, and Connally became terminally ill. Charles Walker very much wanted to keep it going, and Yudof, dean of the law school, was pressing to keep it going. I suddenly found I was doing eight classes instead of four. With all of the other things I had going, having moved deeply into my venture capital role at this point in time, and doing it pro bono, I was grumbling and saying, "Why am I doing this?" Charles Walker's health began to be in question. I was getting ready to say, "Let's give this a decent burial and stop."

Walker had insisted that we do a trial, a couple of things of using remote learning, so adding Texas A&M, Purdue, others to take the class, and trying to deal with having a group of students in person but also have remote learning. Obviously this turned out to be hugely valuable when coronavirus came along, but this is a decade, 15 years before that. I was getting ready to stop, and I got approached; would I consider being a candidate to take the Lyndon Johnson Centennial Chair, National Policy, and being tenured as a full professor? I sort of blew it off. I said I'd at least think about it. Then I got invited to a lunch. Peter Ward, a professor in the LBJ School and Sociology, was chairing the search committee. The Lyndon Johnson chair had had only one occupant for 14 years, and that was Barbara Jordan. With Barbara Jordan's serious illness and then ultimately death, the chair had become vacant. Also on the search committee was Ray Marshall, who was running the Marshall Center at the LBJ School. The luncheon at the Four Seasons, also present at that luncheon was former Dean Elspeth Rostow, and I suddenly recognized who was pushing this whole idea of having Inman there as the successor.

I had not told my wife that I had been approached to consider tenured full professor, flagship chair, but I decided after that lunch, when they pressed me pretty hard to at least consider it, that I'd better tell Nancy. I get home; Elspeth has already been there that afternoon and had made the sale. My wife had already told both sons that I was being approached to do it, so I was suddenly blanketed from the other side. They all thought this would cause me to slow down, spend more time in Austin, not be running around the world doing so many other things. That led to my saying, yeah, I'd consider it, and I went through the drill with the lecture and interacted with student groups, and began to warm pretty much to the idea. I was offered it, and I accepted, and began in August of 2001.

ZIERLER: Tell me about the Johnson School of Public Affairs. What is its mission? How does it organize itself? What does it want to do for students and professionals?

Ed came to be the dean and set out to pretty significantly enhance what the LBJ School was doing in focusing on federal government, not just state and local. He hired some members of the faculty who brought experience serving in federal government, but also brought strong academic credentials along with it. But Ed ran into, as he continued to try to hire a mix, strong faculty opposition. Things sort of went into silos. The LBJ Foundation, staffed by a long-term onetime members of the Johnson clan, and with the newest president, Larry Faulkner, serving as an ad hoc member, the Foundation complained that the LBJ School had lost momentum. Faulkner said, "Well, write me the details." The then-president of the Foundation, Larry Temple, complied. Ed Dorn took great offense at the letter, and even though he had [been] present at the conversations, demanded the letter be withdrawn or he would resign. Another lesson learned—never offer that you would be willing to resign unless you're prepared to do it. Temple refused to withdraw the letter. Dorn did execute a resignation letter and it was accepted.

Let's back up just a little bit. Ed Dorn was the dean, when I was offered the Johnson chair and full tenure. He had been very supportive of me. When I went to my first faculty meeting in September of 2001, and for the first time ever looked at what was the LBJ School broadly teaching, and I was appalled that there was almost nothing on international activity, and pretty sparse on federal. I complained about that to Elspeth, and she said, "Well, why don't you do something about it?" "What would that be?" "Well, put together a task force to examine what should the LBJ School be teaching." I said, "I don't have any authority to—" She said, "You hold a Johnson chair. With your own background, you'll be surprised at your ability to get people to join." So we settled into dialogue, the three deans—LBJ School, Liberal Arts, and Law—and Elspeth, and some outsiders, Larry Temple as head of the Foundation and the provost decided to join. Then Elspeth said, "Why don't you ask the dean of the law school to co-chair the effort with you?" His name was Bill Powers. He readily accepted. We spent a year and a half digging deeply and came up with proposals to significantly enhance, including—we set out to think, where would you raise money? A lot of this was going to fall to Larry Temple to do in the Foundation.

We approached Bob Strauss, who was back from Moscow, saying would he be interested in having a chair named for him at the LBJ School and raising the money for it. He said he had no interest in a chair there [at the] law school, but he would be interested in a center that included the LBJ School and the Law School and Liberal Arts, and that was the beginning of what became the Strauss Center for International Security and Law. As we were shopping that idea, Dorn resigns. I'm approached by Larry Faulkner about being the interim dean, and I decline. Then I was approached by the provost, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, who had agreed to serve on the task force and had been a good active member on it. He approached; I declined. Then I was invited to lunch by Faulkner, and there was the provost as well, and they leaned on me very heavily to be the interim dean, with the thrust being, "You can do far more about implementing what you've come up with in wanting to expand, if you are the interim dean."

So I agreed and spent the calendar year of 2005 as the interim dean. Moved from the usual pattern of hiring two new professors a year to hire six. Really stretched what faculty could do. Among those six was a very bright young recent PhD graduate from Yale named Ben Sasse. Barely got Sasse here and he had presidential personnel calling him back to do something for the Attorney General. He comes back in a few months, then he's called back to help with Health and Human Services and then to be appointed assistant secretary. I had promised Ben that his tenure clock would continue to run, but my successor elected not to honor that commitment, and Ben was told when he was coming back at the end of the George W. Bush administration that he had to start all over again for his time clock. He said he had better options; he could go back to Nebraska and become president of a small private college, did that, and went to the U.S. Senate, where he fairly recently won reelection for a second term in 2020.

Steinberg had been hired as the dean. From the moment he got here, his focus was almost entirely on what job would he have in the next Democratic administration when she was elected to succeed Obama. He hired a number of people with salaries we couldn't afford, and he brought down Jim Lindsay from the Council on Foreign Relations to head the Strauss Center. Bill Powers, as the dean of the Law School, had another candidate he wanted in the job, but Lindsay had been hired. Bill Powers moves up to be the new president of the University. We had set up a board of governance for the Strauss Center, three insiders—deans of Liberal Arts, Law, and LBJ—and three outsiders, the president of the LBJ Foundation, Larry Temple, a lawyer partner of Strauss's who had helped raise the money for the Center, and Inman.

Fast forward, Lindsay had some good talent but he was really running a small Council on Foreign Relations and not really focused on was it good for the students, what happens much more broadly, what research did they undertake. He did some good things, but Steinberg goes back to be deputy secretary of State, I get my arm severely twisted to once again be the interim. That time, it went for 14 months, not 12. My first assignment for President Powers was to get rid of Lindsay, who had been hired as a full professor. Let's just say that was not an easy task, but Lindsay eventually went back to the Council on Foreign Relations, where he continues to run the studies program and doesn't speak to me when I come for Council meetings, so there was some breakage.

As Ben Sasse was leaving, he said that there was a classmate of his at Yale who got his PhD, had worked on the Hill earlier, a Stanford graduate, and had worked House Armed Services, Senate Foreign Relations committees, gone on and gotten his PhD, and was in the George H.W. Bush White House, on the national security side, and then had gone to London to head the Legatum Foundation based in London and Dubai. Sasse thought that Will Inboden might be interested in coming back to the academic world. I reached out and recruited him on that second term as the interim dean. Turns out while he was at the White House, he had become very good friends with George Seay, who was there on the domestic side of the White House. George Seay was the grandson of Bill Clements, who had been twice governor of the state in between deputy secretary of Defense. George had the idea of creating a center at UT Austin to honor his grandfather, which they would help raise the money to make it a viable entity. The Clements Center [was] to focus on national security, but because a Republican—Clements couldn't be under the LBJ School or the Strauss Center, so a separate Clements Center was created, by Bill Powers, a separate governance board chaired by Powers, and I end up serving on that board as well. In this capacity when I retired from teaching, the two ongoing functions I have are serving on the governing boards for the Strauss Center and Clements Center.

When we sent Jim Lindsay back to the Council on Foreign Relations, the dean of the LBJ School who was taking over, Bob Hutchings, wanted to put Jeremi Suri in as the new head of the Strauss Center. I went to Powers and recommended that instead of that, that he take the associate dean of the law school, Bobby Chesney, to be the head of the Strauss Center. He did, over some substantial objections from Hutchings and initially from Larry Temple. Larry is now one of Bobby Chesney's greatest fans. But the key point here is that Chesney and Inboden have worked together like very compatible Siamese twins, and they have elevated UT Austin on the national security side into the top ten, and they continue both to do outstanding jobs. Ward Farnsworth, who is the dean of the law school is going to step down in the academic year, and I think Bobby Chesney may well be his successor as dean. That's going to cause a leadership change, there.

ZIERLER: Did you talk to Jeremi Suri about the decision not to select him?

INMAN: I did not. There was broader compatibility with Chesney, working with people, what I'd watched him do. Jeremi is brilliant. His appointment is half in History and half in LBJ School, where he occupies one of the chairs raised for the Strauss Center. He is not, in my view—his talent does not go toward collaborative effort and managing skillfully along the way. His wife, who was briefly at LBJ School, is now on the City Council, one of its more liberal members. I was influenced by what the women said. I was also influenced by Frank Gavin, who had been earlier the head of the Strauss Center and had gone off to Brown, who advised me. He didn't think that Suri would be a good fit, and that Chesney would be better. That's what helped send me in that direction. It turned out it was a fortuitous, superb appointment.

ZIERLER: Going all the way back to your initial appointment in August 2001, of course this is right before September 11th. I'd like to ask, because of your ongoing connections with the intelligence community, following what had happened with the African embassy bombings, the U.S.S. Cole, did you have any sense of unease at that time, that the United States was vulnerable to this kind of Islamist attack?

INMAN: I do, and I have for a great many years when I present Inman's View of the World, to a lot of different audiences—threats, challenges, opportunities, and a geographic spin around the globe. Early on, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction at the top of that list, still is. Nuclear threat. International terrorism. Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, the World Trade Center had elevated them to that role. International narcotics trafficking. Cyber, as a growing problem. And pandemic/epidemics, going back to 2003 and the SARS. My question there always was, were the world health organizations prepared to deal with a worldwide pandemic? We now know the answer was no.

Where am I today in this? Nuclear is still at the top. Pandemics is second. Cyber is third. International terrorism is still there, but fourth. And the international narcotics. On the challenges, climate and global warming has been there throughout the entire timeframe, with varying views of where are we, what ought to be done. Changing the nature of the world being organized for economic competition—NAFTA, the EU, on to what's going to happen in Asia. About five years ago, I added social media to my list. Four years ago, I added migration to it. That's sort of where it stands.

When 9/11 occurred, and I got on the phone to my friends—"How could we have been surprised?"—you see what you're looking for. I had just made a presumption that after the World Trade Center in 1993, they would have significantly enhanced what they were doing. That in 1998, with Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, that you would have dramatically increased what you were doing. Well, they just reallocated resources, didn't add to it. I wrote an op-ed that The New York Times, printed, and then syndicated, and said—this was a couple of months after—that it was more than a failure of intelligence; it was a failure of imagination. You imagine what could occur, and you look for evidence of it. While there had been a movie about airplanes, never any postulation of something like people coming into the country on legitimate tourist visas, going to flight school, hijacking four aircraft with a coordinated attack on the nation's capital. You needed to set out to pretty dramatically rebuild the intelligence community and to expand how it thought about challenges and problems, and that you needed to begin with a substantial expansion of the Foreign Service, going all the way back to my briefing days when political reporting from embassies often was half of what I briefed in the morning, and we've gone through it in earlier sessions the impact of this.

The reaction to my op-ed—Colin Powell had Grant Green, who he had been brought over to be the undersecretary for Management, called to tell me they couldn't possibly undertake it. They had many too many other problems than to start off on a large expansion recruiting in Foreign Service. I got a letter from the general counsel of the CIA telling me as a former employee, I should have submitted the op-ed to them for review before it was published. I give lots of speeches, but I've not done anything else in print since that timeframe, because I refuse to accept, with not quite 18 months there, that they have any right to review what I write before it's published.

ZIERLER: As you're well aware, after the end of the Cold War, there were differing views about what that meant. You had Francis Fukuyama and The End of History, Samuel Huntington and The Clash of Civilizations. What did 9/11 mean for you, geo-strategically, ten years out from the end of the Cold War?

INMAN: That international terrorism had metastasized and grown. We had a role in this, with joining with Saudi Arabia to split 50/50 the cost of the covert operations in Afghanistan, to raise the cost for the Soviets, so that they would not be inclined to send troops to other parts of the world, to expand communist control. As you looked at all of that, it was clear that this was a worldwide threat that you needed to focus on much more seriously, elevate it in the priority. That the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany was reunited, Cold War is dramatically altered, so Russia is not the threat that the Soviet Union was, though it still had vast nuclear capability. But thirdly, through the Yeltsin years, I did not see a desire to expand the empire.

We talked in a much earlier session about the Trilateral Commission meeting in April of 1990 when Bronislaw Geremek, the foreign minister of Poland, had talked about the headaches including the third headache being Russia, free of its troublesome minorities, economically prospering, resuming their territorial ambitions. We've subsequently seen Crimea, Eastern Ukraine. Where's that going to go? Looking at Putin's most recent set of demands, which would essentially, if you accepted them all, move toward the Baltics not being part of NATO, constraints on Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania.

But going back to the changes at the end of the Cold War, what I did not perceive in 2001 was where China was going to go, and that first decade, I didn't pay a lot of attention to it. I knew that each five-year plan beginning in 1990, rewarding the PLA for the crackdown at Tiananmen—5% broad growth. Next 5-year plan; 10% growth. They liked what they saw they got, so they kept expanding that. The huge success of Deng Xiaoping's efforts to grow the economy, primarily focusing on the private sector. That led us to 2012, when I'm approached for my dialogues with China, to a hugely different China, now having passed Japan to be the second largest economy. Their own hyper self-confidence that they were going to sustain that pace, that we were going to continue to decline, and that they would pass us to be the world's largest economy probably in this decade. I did not anticipate the disappointment that Xi Jinping would set out to pursue a different direction, to go the exact opposite of the approach Gorbachev took, of sort of dissolving the party and opening up the economy, recognizing what Deng Xiaoping had accomplishing in unlocking the latent entrepreneurship in China's population, but to begin tightening his own control and moving toward extending his own tenure, not abiding by Deng Xiaoping's two five-year terms, which Jiang [Zemin] and Hu [Yaobang], but moving toward having the party control every element of government, from local to national, and then controlling all the state-owned enterprises, and now late in his second term, increasingly controlling the private sector, to rein in the unfettered entrepreneurial sense.

What we know with certainty at this point is Xi has nailed down, and now we'll enter this November his third five-year term, and the following March, third term as president, clearly at this point with no political opposition, with the party in complete control and under his complete control, that he can stay there as long as he wants. The real challenge is, where does he want to take China? Why is he suddenly dramatically increasing the land-based missile capability? What's the purpose? I understood One Belt One Road as ensuring access to raw materials, critical to maintain economic growth, and markets, and doing it on loans, not grants. But here we are ten years along. We've already seen in some places where the loans came due and when they couldn't pay them, they took over ports, facilities. He has got the infrastructure. If he wanted to have forward-deployed military units, he could do that, following the pattern that the U.S. did after World War II. So where does his vision of a revitalized China back to its status of five centuries ago—where does he want to take them?

When Deng Xiaoping made the deal with Mrs. Thatcher for bringing Hong Kong back and just shifting governor generals from British to Chinese, but two economics, two systems, one nation—Xi has now done away with that—my Japanese colleagues believed that the one goal Mao didn't accomplish, bringing Taiwan back into the field, will be high on Xi's list. My own view has been he might well do that, but he's got higher priorities, getting his third term underway, on what's his larger role in the world. Unless Taiwan declared independence, and if they did, no doubt in my mind he would use force quickly to preclude it. In 2022, is Putin going to decide that the time is right to begin his territorial expansion, to add to his territorial expansion? To take the eastern half of Ukraine and reunite it with Russia, since it has got a large Russian-speaking population, and it's the industrial part of Ukraine. Leave the agriculturals like Kiev. But—can't be part of NATO. If he elects to use force to do that, does Xi decide that it is an opportune time to go take Taiwan? If both of those are going, what are the Iranians' ambitions about completing their nuclear capability and obliterating Israel in the process? So we are potentially at some pretty difficult crossroads. I'm back a little bit to my 2001[perspective]—what are we imagining could occur, and how are we planning to deal with it?

The last little bit I'll do on this and then stop—I remember with great clarity Khrushchev and Kennedy meeting in Vienna in 1961, and Khrushchev concluding he could bully him, could push him around, the agreement to neutralize Laos, which would make it much easier then for North Vietnam to support the insurgency in South Vietnam. In the NSC meeting after that conference, Bobby Kennedy reported he'd talk to Cardinal Cushing. The Dinh brothers were great Catholics, trustworthy, that what we should offset so we didn't get—who lost China impacted the 1950 election; don't have who lost Laos impact the 1962 election. So, step up our covert support for the Dinh brothers in South Vietnam. But Khrushchev decided neutralizing Laos wasn't nearly enough; go build a wall around Berlin to stop the drain and to offset the Jupiter missiles in Turkey by putting missiles in Cuba.

Now, where does that take me? I watched the images in Helsinki of the press conference of Trump and Putin after their long meeting. By that point I was already shutting out Trump's rhetoric. I focused on Putin, his smugness, comfort level. What had he come out of that hour and a half private session? Incidentally the intelligence community has never been briefed on what actually transpired in that hour and a half time. Did that encourage Putin for what we've seen on the cyber side and his comfort level that he could go ahead and move in Crimea, Ukraine? How will he have read those interactions with Biden? That may well motivate which path he takes right now. He doesn't have to rush. He's got an election in 2024, not much doubt that he will get another long term, so he's good to 2036. So both Russia and China leadership is likely to be in place for a very long time.

And you look at the visibility after January the 6th of what is the state of governments in the U.S. and our ability to come together to deal with external challenges. Certainly the leaving of Afghanistan, broadly popular—we should have gotten out years ago—but it was how it was executed. That we [consider], how do foreign leaders pursue, perceive the likelihood, and does further sanctions really bother them that much, if they have a high level of comfort in we've already told Putin that there's not a military option if he invades? How seriously does he view economic threats, and particularly if what he really wants to roll back where NATO is already present? How does Xi read all of that? I don't see a big Russian/Chinese collaboration. They'll cooperate where it meets their interests, but I think right now, they're much more likely to pursue their own separate interest, and that will be governed a lot by how they think the U.S. is capable and likely to respond.

[End of Recording]

ZIERLER: This is David Zierler, Director of the Caltech Heritage Project. It is Wednesday, January 12th, 2022. I am delighted to be back for the grand finale of my series of wonderful oral history discussions with Admiral Bobby Ray Inman. Bob, once again, great to be with you, sir.

INMAN: Thank you. My pleasure, David.

ZIERLER: Today, I want to go back to 2001 and start on the topic of rhetoric used by the Bush administration during this extraordinarily difficult period in American history. From a geopolitics, from an intelligence, and from a national security perspective, what was your reaction to the Bush administration's use of phrases like "axis of evil" and "the Global War on Terror"?

INMAN: My concern first with the Global War on Terror—when you define a war, you hope it's going to be a war you can win. My worry from the beginning was how do you ultimately acknowledge that you've won or lost? The phrasing in the speech talked about people who had supported terrorist activity in the past but joined in going after—we may not forget but we would forgive. Syria fit in that category. A little later, Libya fit in that category. They both provided information that was helpful running down Al-Qaeda. But the axis of evil? That's politicians' catch phrases, but the reality was that we knew who was supporting terrorists, and that was a way to try to categorize their responsibility for it. It played well domestically, not that well internationally.

ZIERLER: Of course, the Global War on Terror, the aftermath of the attacks on September 11th, it ignited a renewed interest among students in college regarding national security and diplomatic history. I wonder for you, as a professor, in this new stage in your career, what impact that might have had on your teaching, writing, and presentations of the topic?

INMAN: Remember, I was not writing, because of CIA's assertion that anything I wrote had to be sent to them for approval. I was doing an awful lot of speeches, along with my teaching. Clearly as I tried to track what was going on, understand it, and point out the fallacies and the inaccuracies—I guess this is a good place, if we've not done it, to deal with—I think we have done it—the national intelligence estimate that said Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons and the impetus for the decision to go. The earlier timeframe, CIA had said he was several years away, and then after the inspectors came back in the wake of the Gulf War, they discovered he had an entirely separate program pursuing a technology used in Los Alamos to produce the weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They didn't ever want to be caught being wrong again, underestimating, so they went the other way, overestimating.

The problem that surfaces here is that there were dissents in the National Intelligence Estimate, but those dissents don't get pulled up to the publicity. You've got to read the entire estimate to go find State Department objection, the Navy's objection, et al. The end result was the reality of uncertainty, inconclusive decisions, where a review of two or three agencies carried the day. Parallel activity, aside from the estimate of where he was—hard to underestimate the impact of Zarqawi, who had left Afghanistan, been injured, stayed in Iran for a while. He then went to Baghdad and began planning to assassinate American officials. This was in Amman, Jordan. He was from Jordan. They killed the agricultural attaché.

ZIERLER: Did you believe that the Bush administration made the right call in going into Iraq based on what you were seeing?

INMAN: I had by that point been doing annual Inman's View of the World at the Bohemian Grove every summer, and on the second Friday of the encampment, in 2002, having seen the buildup going on in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, et al, I came down very forcefully against invading Iraq, because it was taking the eye off of Iran. I considered Iran a far more serious threat. They had never paid a price for the invasion of the embassy and holding U.S. citizens hostages 444 days. Never done by any other country. I considered them a far larger threat to our interests over the long term. My pronouncements were that if we diverted to go into Iraq, we would take our eye off of Iran, and they would be able to expand their interest in the region. Sadly, that's exactly what happened.

What you say at one of those things is supposed to be off the record, but it spread pretty widely beyond the 400 or so people who heard me. I got a call from Brent Scowcroft, asking me had I made that pronouncement, assumption, and I confirmed that I had, and that I was very worried that we were going to stumble into Iraq and take our eye off of Iran. He then on his own, but I still doubt that he would have done it without clearing it with George H.W. Bush, he wrote his op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in August that said the road to Baghdad goes through the United Nations. Dick Cheney was so furious that he gave a speech attacking all of that, and Bush ultimately went with what his vice president was pursuing.

There's another challenge here, and that's when you deploy forces, when you're building them up, particularly in the Middle East in the desert regions, you have a few months when they're okay in waiting. But as you are moving toward the hot weather time, the general view was, use them or lose them. If you don't go ahead and act in the months when the weather is favorable, then you're going to withdraw them, bring them back to the U.S., and it'll be another year before you can marshal them. So along with the estimates of where Saddam Hussein was with weapons and what he might do, you also had this steady buildup of forces that had begun related to Afghanistan but had steadily continued, part of General Frank's preparation to do what the commander-in-chief wanted. Then the argument became, "Well, we shouldn't wait longer for clarification or waiting for the U.N. to act or whatever. We need to go ahead and act or else we're going to withdraw the forces and lose a year, year and a half, in dealing with the problem."

ZIERLER: You mentioned the problem of taking our eye off the ball when it comes to Iran in the runup to the invasion of Iraq. What about Osama bin Laden who remained, of course, at large in Afghanistan or Pakistan at this point?

INMAN: We had made the presumption that he had escaped into Pakistan, and that he was protected by ISI, the Pakistan counterpart to CIA, and therefore you couldn't reach him. You'll remember at the gathering at Camp David after 9/11, Paul Wolfowitz wanted to go attack Iraq then, and he raised it three different times during the session. The vice president finally took him aside and said, "We'll get to Iraq later. Right now the focus has to be on Al-Qaeda, and we know that he was operating from Afghanistan." But the deputy secretary of Defense never changed his view that we ought to use any opportunity to go begin regime change, first in Iraq, then going on to Syria.

ZIERLER: From your time at the NSA and the CIA, knowing all that you had about the ISI during the episode of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, what insights did you gain about Pakistan's intelligence agency and their alleged willingness to protect bin Laden after September 11th?

INMAN: The collaboration between CIA and ISI moved from just intelligence exchange to recruiting, training, guerrillas, to take the war to the Soviets in Afghanistan. We shifted our attention after 9/11—we continued to want to have access to territory to support the forces that were in Afghanistan, and the land bridge and much of the air was across Pakistan. We had continued to support until the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan. We had then withdrawn our support the same time they had. The relationship with ISI was then rekindled, but it was done at the top, President Musharraf, to get approval to use Pakistani land and air space. It was less relationship with ISI. It was clear that ISI was sheltering the leaders of the Taliban. We knew where they were. We didn't know where Osama bin Laden was at that stage of the game.

The relationship with ISI deteriorated pretty dramatically. Subsequent directors of Central Intelligence [felt]—the head of ISI was always a Pakistan Army lieutenant general. It was frequently a steppingstone to become chief of the general staff. That pattern had continued in that timeframe. It was recognizing that effort that when the time came to stage the attack on bin Laden at Abbottabad, once we had determined that's where he probably was, we did not tell ISI or the Pakistani army. That led to substantial further deterioration in relationships. Their complaint was that by the flights in, flights out, we had demonstrated to the Indians how porous the Pakistani air defense system was, therefore potentially encouraging the Indians to conduct attacks, knowing they could get in without being opposed and conduct attacks along the way. So lots of ramifications that came out of all of that.

ZIERLER: Of course, until the documents are open from the Bush II administration, there remains so much speculation as to the fundamental reason why Bush invaded Iraq—oil, post 9/11 panic, avenging the unfinished business of his father's war against Saddam. For you, do you see an overriding decision point?

INMAN: The group that surrounded the vice president was committed to at some point in the administration overthrowing Saddam Hussein, and then going on to the other countries after that, and it was a question of looking for opportunity. History will eventually tell us a lot of what went on, but what it won't tell us is what went on at the Thursday lunches with the president and the vice president. There is no written record of what took place. All we know is that Condi Rice, the national security advisor, and Steve Hadley, her deputy, would be working on the president on actions to take. He would go to the Thursday lunch and he'd come back and say, "Put that on the shelf." The vice president was tracking everything that Condi and Steve were doing, and anything that was not supportive of where he wanted to go.

The dialogue between Cheney and Rumsfeld was extraordinarily close. You'll remember that Rumsfeld brought Cheney into the White House and then orchestrated his becoming Ford's chief of staff, when Rumsfeld went to the Pentagon for the first time after the firing of Schlesinger, so there was a closeness of that network. All the routine about finishing what his father didn't do—that's pure BS, had no bearing at all on the action. What we do know is that there was very close dialogue between Tommy Franks as the head of Central Command and Rumsfeld, and then what overrode whatever the planners, the operators, were thinking about size of forces and all the rest, and then the commander in chief became part of that dialogue.

Somewhere along the path, after they had been successful overthrowing Saddam, they were in place, the provisional authority headed by Jerry Bremer was in place, dialogue said we should now turn our focus—I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me back up. After the government was installed in Kabul and we appeared to have been successful, but the president had made the decision that we would stay this time and try to help this new fledgling Afghan government we put in place, a dialogue takes place between General Franks, Rumsfeld, and the president—Cheney is not in that conversation—at which the president tells Frank to begin planning for an invasion of Iraq. Earlier, in 1998, Clinton had told the CENTCOM commander, Marine General Tony Zinni, to plan for an invasion, and he had put together a substantial effort—two-front war from Turkey and Kuwait, how long it would take, all the bombing you would do, very detailed plans. Then the Monica Lewinksy scandal popped on the scene, and Clinton told General Zinni to—I said his name a few moments ago, the Marine—put that on the shelf.

Fast forward when the president tells General Franks to—he goes and finds Tony Zinni's plans from three years earlier, and that became his beginning point for what CENTCOM would do if given the order to go overthrow Saddam Hussein. Then the dialogue begins, back and forth between Rumsfeld and Franks. Rumsfeld was enchanted with the idea of small, light, fast forces. He saw this as the potential to test and prove his concept—much lighter forces, move much faster, smaller numbers on them, and steadily whittled down the plans that had begun with Tony Zinni, had gone to General Franks. That got us to the forces that were actually used for the invasion in Iraq. Complicated further by the Turks' decision that we could not use Turkey. So you were bound to a single, light, 30,000-man force or thereabouts, to go in from Kuwait, and to be successful because of your speed and technology superiority.

ZIERLER: Of course, despite your best efforts and those of so many others, when the decision to invade Iraq was a fait accompli, what was your reaction when administration officials assured the U.S. public that American troops would be welcomed as liberators and the war would be won quickly?

INMAN: Fiction. It's persuading yourselves of a scenario that's totally unlikely. I had taken a look at the exiles from Iraq and had concluded that they were a feckless crowd, but Congress had enacted the Free Iraq Act in 1998, even as Clinton backed off from actual invasion, and money began to flow to Iraqi exiles, and the info they produced didn't go in the intelligence community; it went in through the policy community, to Doug Feith at Defense, to the vice president's office, and from there, to the intelligence community. So the ability to discount [the challenge] capitalized by Chalabi—the Cheney folk concluded, "He's going to be able to go in, he'll be welcome with open arms, he'll put in place a government that we can work with and be happy with." And he was a crook! He had been convicted earlier in Jordan on absconding with funds. Nonetheless, they bought on that you didn't need to worry about what you were going to do after the invasion; Chalabi was going to come in. He'd be warmly welcomed. He'd set up a government and we could then plan to withdraw. No probability from the outset that that would work, but if you had really dug into his background, he was a slick used car salesman that you'd never want to buy a vehicle from.

ZIERLER: When did you first become aware of the warrantless domestic wiretap program and what was your reaction?

INMAN: I got a call from Mike Hayden, who was running NSA, telling me that they had had this session with the president and vice president. The president wanted to know, are there any other terrorists here? When Hayden said the constraints are getting approval from the FISA court, because the whole process was aimed at nation-states, not individuals, and we had to go back each time you changed phones to get a new warrant, Cheney said, "Don't do any of that. That was all Inman covering his backside in setting up the court. Presidents ever since World War II have issued surveillance [orders]. That's what you need to do."

I suggested to Mike, that he should go see Tom Daschle, who was the majority leader in the Senate, to see if you could get in camera a modification of the FISA court to enable what you wanted to do. Mike went to see Daschle. Daschle said, "We can't do it without exposing the entire program. Could never do it in a classified way." I think that was wrong. I go back to what was done in getting the FISA court in place in the first place, including closed session of the Senate. It was discussed when they were getting ready to vote to approve it. But Daschle's unwillingness to go forward said that they went back to following Cheney's advice and operating warrantless, until you got to 2004, and the deputy attorney general refusing to go forward with the warrantless, and they finally at that point then went back to the Congress to get modification to enable the surveillance of individuals, with the ability to track those individuals through multiple telephone landlines.

I bear some blame at the original construct of the FISA court for not having imagined a situation where you would want to follow individuals and not state, nation-state enterprises—embassies, consulates, trade organizations, and at that point not understanding where technology was going, that the shift was going to be to cell phones, and you could shift from one to another. Our failing to imagine that kind of world led to narrow guidance for what could and could not be covered.

ZIERLER: Was there anything heroic that you saw in Ed Snowden's decision to leak details of the NSA program?

INMAN: None. He tried to construct later that it was a heroic act. Snowden was a high school dropout, enjoyed—used recreational drugs, but he had become a pretty good software programmer. As NSA's activities expanded, and they set up some new locales to undertake activities that would interact but they didn't want them in NSA headquarters, one of those was at Bowie, Maryland, and you needed security guards, and you needed those security guards to have clearances, because as they wandered around in the night, they might well find classified material that had been left adrift. Snowden applied for a job. He went through the clearance process. They looked at his past history of using drugs and the rest of it, accepted his statements that he no longer was doing that, so they gave him the clearances and they hired him.

Didn't take him long to recognize that with clearances, he could get a better job, plus the idea of going to live in Europe appealed to him, so he applied and got hired in Switzerland for one of the CIA's contractor support activities. Again at this point it's physical security that he is providing. He got bored with Switzerland fairly fast, but the idea that he might be able to go live in the Orient was appealing. Sure enough, he found the same need for contract employees in Japan. With his clearances, he was hired. The mystery that may never be resolved is what happened during his year in Japan. On the internet, he was somebody—the type—a sort of conservative figure from Maryland, and Switzerland, he was suddenly pursuing a totally different set of contacts, and a different set of interests, and he was now focused not on physical security but access to classified material.

He found that there was a facility in Hawaii where he could apply. He was hired, went there. The huge difference was that Kunia, one of the sites I had created to do remote collection. Long after my time, as they had become increasingly worried about physical attacks, what would happen if a truck bomb was set off outside NSA—so Kunia was identified as an alternate command headquarters, and they were therefore opened for access. Snowden saw this opportunity and shifted from being a Dell employee, as he had been in Japan and he came to be a Booz Allen Hamilton employee—because their role was supporting the alternate headquarters, not the collection activities that Dell had been supporting.

He got in the job and almost immediately asked the 22 other [coworkers] for their passwords. And they gave them to him! Where's the supervisor of this activity? He's an alcoholic, and he's showing up to work half-time. Nobody checked. With that access, within a period—I think it's only about nine weeks, maybe 11—Snowden filled up four laptops, innumerable thumb drives, with information that was of great sensitivity and value. He then flew to Hong Kong, took all those materials with him. He briefly touched base with Chinese consulate in Hong Kong, but the primary dialogue was with the Russian consulate. He had back in Japan researched and came up with [Glenn] Greenwald—that's the last name—who works for The Guardian. Ms. Poitras. He liked what they had done, so he contacted them with wanting to give them all this enormously valuable information that he had. He did, publishing starts, his passport is cancelled by the U.S. The Russians give him paperwork that permits him to fly out of Hong Kong and go to Moscow. A large amount of information that he took with him was never published by Greenwald or Poitras or the guy from The Post. Where did it go? Does he still have it, or did he provide it to the Russians? Which is why they've given him such a warm welcome and sustained he and his girlfriend, give him full access to the internet to join efforts like this.

ZIERLER: Between your disapproval of what Snowden had done, but also your opposition to the domestic wiretapping program, what's the alternative solution? What would be a way forward without this massive leak and breach of national security, but also changing politically what the Bush administration had done?

INMAN: Once the Congress enacted the changes to the FISA Court, the Bush administration was no longer collecting outside the legal limits. All of the material that was collected that was stored out in a vast new facility in Utah was collected—it's metadata. It's the routing instructions. It's none of the content, none of the text materials themselves. The whole purpose here was to track—you get somebody from Pakistan or Afghanistan calling a number in the U.S.; who did that number connect to? Who did that number call? That's where you were looking to try to find networks supporting terrorist activities. Now it turns out it produced very little substantive intelligence connections, leads to terrorism, and eventually, well after Snowden, NSA stopped the collection because it wasn't producing intelligence of value and it cost a substantial amount of money to do it.

I fall back to our earlier conversations. I'm troubled with the divisions in the House Intelligence Committee that we saw with—the guy from California, Nunes who was chairman—Adam Schiff was the minority—when control of the House changed, Schiff became chairman, but he didn't have a Republican ranking member that he worked with. The precedent of the Senate, they had restored the bipartisan collaboration. Burr from North Carolina is chairman. Mark Warner is the vice chair. Senate control changes: Mark Warner becomes chairman. Senior senator from Florida becomes the ranking—bipartisanship continued. So you could in fact get legislative approval for anything that popped up that you needed to do domestically.

I remain persuaded if you're willing to work with those committees, and you have a very clear need, that you can get legislation that would authorize it. In this current polarized mode we're in, the one little glimmer of light there is that day-to-day working on the Senate Select Committee, which continues to be superb. Whether you can bring the whole Senate along? Probably. If you were to get recommendations of the committee to authorize some specific collection activities inside the United States, I think the odds are high that you'd get approval. Both majority and minority leaders would go along. Would the House then ratify it? I think likely, because Nancy Pelosi was number two on the House Select Committee for years, got very upset with Dick Gephardt when he told Jane Harman if she would run to be reelected to the House, he'd restore her to the number two position, did, then the Democrats came into power, Pelosi became the speaker the first time, and she refused to let Jane Harman become chairman of the House Select Committee. So personal feelings can get involved in all of these.

ZIERLER: Yet another scandal to discuss from the Bush administration—did you see the Valerie Plame scandal, what Scooter Libby did, was this unprecedented in intelligence history?

INMAN: I don't know of another one like it, but I think it got pushed beyond [the norm]. When the station chief elects to marry the ambassador with whom she had been carrying on an affair, it is exceedingly unlikely that she could ever go to another post, covered, as station chief. Essentially, the affair and the marriage, in my view, eliminated any possibility that she could remain [in this line of work]. Did the leak damage her career? The answer is no. She already had made the decision. She could continue to operate, but not in clandestine stations.

Now, let's deal with the leak. The actual leak to the journalist was not done by Scooter Libby. It was done by Rich Armitage, the deputy secretary of State, who identified that Plame had orchestrated her husband going back out to confirm that it wasn't valid, that they were buying "yellowcake" for the Iraqi program. The vice president became aware of it, told Scooter Libby. Libby confirmed to Judith Miller what Rich Armitage had already given away. When Libby is interrogated by the FBI pursuing the leak to Miller—who leaked to Judith Miller—he lied, and that's when he went to end up being prosecuted. Of course, he never went to jail. He got his sentence commuted. That's what he got. But Cheney never forgave Bush for not pardoning Scooter.

ZIERLER: To return to the axis of evil, do you think that, ironically, the Bush administration's designation of North Korea as a member of the so-called axis of evil actually compelled the North Koreans to accelerate their nuclear program?

INMAN: I don't think it had any bearing on it at all. What led to the accelerating of the program was the young leader trying to solidify his position. The hereditary passing of the leadership was not widely recognized, but it got strong support on the political side by his aunt and her husband. Turns out he was China's principal asset inside the North Korean government. When in a dialogue between the leadership, it became apparent to Kim Jong-un that things had been leaked to China, that he had only had in a very close dialogue. He turned and he put his aunt in an insane asylum and executed her husband.

That gave him unquestionable control of the party but not of the military. How did he nail down complete control of the military? Accelerate funding. Pushing development of the nuclear capability, the missile capability, and all the rest of it. It appealed to him, and it solidified the military behind him. Well, he has now been in office ten years, and he continues to play that publicizing how strong the military is, what they do for North Korea et al, even as two million people in the country starve, poor economic conditions. The relationship between China and North Korea continues to be interesting. China does just enough support to keep him in power, but they don't embrace him.

Mr. Putin has observed all that, and he thought there could be a window here to enhance Russian influence, so he has reached out on several occasions. There was one train trip by Kim Jong-un into Russia and back. It's interesting; he's reluctant to fly places for fear that he will be intercepted by the West. There are questions of the state of his health, and the parallel activity to bring his younger sister into leadership positions, send her to the Olympics, Winter Olympics four years ago. A lot of publicity came with it, a little too much, so she was sort of put back on the back seat, when she came back. Then as his health came into question—he had gotten really pretty fat. Lost a lot of weight. Maybe that was planned—dieting, et al. Maybe it was an illness. She resurfaced, has been given a broader portfolio. From my view, that's backstop in case something should happen to him, that the hereditary position of the family from Kim Il-sung to now Kim Jong-un.

He made sure that there was no other potential rival. Half-brother got killed. There's another brother who got dropped a long time ago; they thought he was gay. The older brother, who he eventually had killed, fell out of favor with the father because he took his family to Disneyland in China. It's not a stable situation, but what keeps him really in control is the military very pleased with what has flowed in the way of resources and public approbation inside North Korea.

ZIERLER: To go back to an earlier concern that you conveyed, fast forwarding to today, do you see Iran's influence in Iraq as a total net positive for Iran's security stability? Has the overthrow of Saddam Hussein been a complete win for Iran?

INMAN: In the first election, the leader was a pretty solid guy, conservative Shia, and Iran—Soleimani—worked very hard to undercut his government. Another election, Soleimani pulled all of the strings and we moved to a new leader who was far more amenable to Iran and what Iran wanted. That had been the outcome for all the subsequent elections. Soleimani is killed. There's another election, and in fact, the pro-Iranian elements do not do nearly as well. We're in the situation where there's an effort now to put together a new government. It has led to a good deal of fighting on the sidelines. But there has been no successor for Soleimani who had his skills—political skills—to put together. When Muqtada-al Sadr who began after living in Iran, hostile to the U.S., he's now equally hostile to Iran. He wants an Iraqi government where neither the U.S. nor the Iranians have any significant influence. I don't know whether he can put something like that together or not.

What we have out of those multiple changes is a land bridge from Iran, across northern Iraq, across Syria, to Lebanon. Hezbollah, they were the principal force in sustaining Assad on the throne until the Russians came in to provide the real sustaining power, but they are the militant wing of Hezbollah, the best fighters. The other comparably good fighters are the Kurds. Neither the Sunni nor Shia have proved as adept on the battlefield. That's where air power in the U.S. side supporting Syrian Kurds on the other side of the Russian-supporting Hezbollah troops et al—we've got a standoff now, up in northeastern Syria around—and there's where there are a million Syrian refugees who left the Golan area, all the rest, and went there. It has got a mix of people who had earlier been ISIS or Al-Qaeda, et cetera. Turks support them. Every now and again, Russians will do a bombing campaign, but they have not provided air support for a Syrian military assault. It remains one of the unresolved trouble spots.

ZIERLER: Turning back to Caltech and the earlier idea for what brought you to Caltech originally, I wonder if by the 2000s and the string of successes at JPL under the leadership of Charles Elachi, if you saw some of those successes as what was bearing fruit from you coming on to Caltech and improving those relations between Caltech and NASA.

INMAN: Candidly, I think by bringing on some new trustees who knew Washington and had a—first was Gayle Wilson. Had trouble getting her through because of the political side, but I knew she was a biology major at Stanford, had good depth, and she knew Washington like the back of her hand. We had collaborated on an effort called the Center for Excellence in Education, which began by Admiral Rickover. I had chaired it and then handed it off to Gayle. That's where I had really gotten to watch her. She came on.

Then I reached out—Kent Kresa was willing to be considered. He got elected. Of course at this point he's the CEO of Northrup Grumman. Kent chaired a committee looking at relationships between NASA and JPL. But inside, he listened to all the complaints from JPL that they weren't being given their share of missions by NASA, and his response was, "Stop complaining. Go compete! Go bid on all of the efforts you think you could do well at." They were incredibly successful. Suddenly the pendulum had gone the other direction. All of the other centers were increasingly bitter that JPL was taking programs that they had expected to be given to them to run. In executing all those, the manpower started growing again. We had gone through a reduction in force, leading up to this, "Go bid." Now we were beginning to grow again. We had gone from 9,000 employees down to five, but we no longer needed to lease space elsewhere, because five would fully do—the real key here is what do you build in-house, what do you go to contractors to build, and where do you go to other centers to build and collaborate.

Charles comes in, does a superb job of getting new business, and of executing. He became focused on trying to deliver his former PhD student to be his successor, kept giving him bigger assignments inside JPL, which caused an awful lot of grumbling, because the general view of people was that he simply didn't have that breadth. But Charles was absolutely committed to delivering. I had chaired the search committee that hired Charles and persuaded Dan Goldin to go along with it. Fast forward three presidents later, I was asked to co-chair the search for Charles's successor, with Diana [Jergovic]. We came up with the three candidates, one of which was Mike Watkins.

What's put in focus here—the change that led to Ed Stone stepping down was a worry about risk in executing programs, and the fact that he had been unwilling to push back against NASA when they were dictating the launch vehicle, which meant you ended up reducing redundancy and you got failures. Charles dealt with those issues but then began following Kent's guidance on dramatically expanding the business base. By the end of this time, concern inside NASA that JPL had too much on their plate and that they were potentially taking risks that could lead to failures. In hiring Watkins, the prime focus was not on how do you go get new business; it was on how do you manage what you've got, and how do you ensure that you are dealing with risk across the board. Also that you rebuild relationships with the other centers, and offer some business to them, where you can effectively do it.

He did a good job. But then we had to do another search, with Larry James as acting [director]. This time, I wasn't asked to chair or co-chair a third time but to serve on the committee, and we're waiting to see who Tom chooses and how it lands. The new element, the different element—you look at what's already on the plate to do through 2028; tough technical problems, plus decision from NASA to share the recovery, return of the samples with the Europeans and the other NASA centers, it says you're going to be managing multiple different centers in executing, multiple contractors. But the real issue is, what after Mars? Once you've returned the samples, how much more do you want to do in Mars? Do you really want to have a habitat? If you do, that's not JPL's area; that's going to go to the Johnson and Marshall et al.

ZIERLER: Not to mention SpaceX and Elon Musk.

INMAN: Exactly. My view for JPL is, what's after Mars? Jupiter, Titan, that part is courtesy of Congressman Culberson before he was defeated, pretty much ingrained as one addition. But I think it's looking at interstellar, and what does the James Webb Telescope tell us about things that we ought to go and explore? I am hopeful that the new leader will have the technical depth to deal with risk management, will have the ability to work better with NASA and the other centers to collaborate, and will have the vision to help lead to what's next and the savvy to sell that to NASA, to the Congress, the point where is JPL going to be in the decade of the 2030s.

ZIERLER: Returning to Washington, as witness to so much history in civil rights and particularly with the military's leading role in integration, what do you think it meant when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008?

INMAN: Hugely exciting that we were prepared, the country at large—not a close election. It was a good, solid number. The challenge, candidly, was the same thing we saw with Kennedy. Four years in the Senate does not prepare you to effectively manage a vast government from the beginning, so you have two years of learning, you get some major legislative accomplishments—the Affordable Care Act, et al—then the focus then was on reelection. The outside world intruded with a variety of different problems. You had the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. I see particularly the second Obama term as missed opportunity.

ZIERLER: His choice of Bob Gates as secretary of Defense, what did that signal to you from the beginning?

INMAN: When Bush was elected, Bob Gates was approached to go back as director of Central Intelligence, and he declined. He sort of offhanded said, "The only thing I'd even consider would be secretary." He had secretary of State in mind. Fast forward, George W. is increasingly dissatisfied with Rumsfeld and elects not to consult Cheney. They reach out in August to Gates and said, "You said you weren't interested in the rest of it, but would you consider being secretary of Defense?" That led to a flutter of conversations. What would it entail? What would he have to do? He eventually said he would consider it. The president interacted in October but didn't want to do anything until after the election, because he didn't want to make it appear he was acceding to the complaints about Rumsfeld. Once the midterm elections were over, he moved the next day, told Rumsfeld he was out. That's when Cheney found out that Gates was coming in to be the secretary of Defense.

Gates did a very effective job. When Obama came in, a number of people leaned on Obama to say, "You should ask Gates to stay. You have no background yourself. He is broadly respected by both sides of the aisle on the Hill, doing an effective job. You should ask him to stay." He did. Gates accepted. The first year went pretty well. The second year didn't, because Obama was looking for a military dividend again, as we get after drawing down forces anywhere. There's a parallel activity here: words matter. And when the candidate says, "The war in Iraq was a war of choice"—it was—"but the war in Afghanistan is a war of necessity"—all the military leaders hear that. Prospective commander-in-chief says, "This is a war of necessity," so they begin jimmying the plans, if he's elected, of what do they need to implement to win this war of necessity. So he's barely in office when up comes, "Here's the proposal." It's like the surge in Iraq. He says, "Go forward with it," then he sees the size of it. And there are others who want to go the other way and slash defense spending, not add to commitments, so he agrees to go with the surge of about 30,000 or so, and parallel to that, to announce that they will be pulled out in two years. That tells the Taliban, "Bide your time. Keep it at a level that doesn't encourage him to change his mind, and then slowly step up your activity as the withdrawal is executed." Gates makes the decision to go back to the private sector, joins Condi Rice and Steve Hadley, in Rice, Hadley, Gates. Much lower profile than Kissinger Associates, but at least as influential and lucrative as Kissinger Associates has been now for a very long while.

ZIERLER: When President Obama announced the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, what impressed you about the operation both in its intelligence and military dimensions?

INMAN: One of the things I loved as an intelligence analyst was it was like doing a jigsaw puzzle, fitting the pieces together to come up with conclusions. Your own assumptions, intuitions, play a factor. But it was intellectually stimulating. That's what a couple of analysts did in trying to find where the hell is Osama bin Laden. How can you find him? It took a while until they realized, he's not in electronic communications. He recognized from all the publicity, December the 9th or 10th in 1992—"We're going to nail Osama bin Laden tonight." "How do you know where he is?" "He's in Tora Bora." "How do you know he's there?" "Listening to the cell phone." Turns out he had already gone, but his cell phone had been left. Somebody else was using it at that point. But he didn't need to be persuaded any further—no electronic communication. But he's still running an organization. How? Couriers. Can you identify who the prospective couriers are? And can you begin to follow their movements to see if that will lead you to where he is?

One of those couriers tracked would occasionally go to a place called Abbottabad, and to a compound that, when you began to look at it, looked like it could contain him. They tried various gambits to get access. None were successful. It came down to deciding to act on a substantial number of assumptions. Bill McRaven was given the job of putting together the team, training them, executing. Gates is still sec def. Panetta is the director of Central Intelligence, already in line to be the next secretary of Defense when Gates goes. Hillary Clinton is secretary of State. You've seen the image of the people gathered in Washington sweating it out.

First big concern was getting in undetected. Unclear what the Pakistanis would do if they detected the operation. Then you get the malfunctioning helicopter, which is crashed into the compound, paralleling the one that got in successfully. The SEALS scatter and undertake the operation to find him, ultimately killed when he resisted. Identifying the body. They want to make sure, "Are you sure you got the right guy?" What to do with the other—the wives, the children, et al. But there had been planning—if he really was running stuff, as much as they thought, there would be a lot of material in that compound of huge intelligence value, so part of the team wasn't aimed at capturing Bin Laden; it was scooping up everything else.

Well, they had to load it all into one helicopter that was big enough, heavy enough, that it could in fact do that, go out, fly out to the carrier, different route from the route you came in, and examine the body, confirm identity. Not wanting to have martyrs—burial at sea. There were many potential points of failure that could have occurred. This one came together. Remembering Desert One, to try to go get the hostages out of Iran, too many points of failure that failed. In this one, they worked and the redundancy was sufficient for successful completion when they had the helicopter failure. In the wake of that, one of the disappointments to me has been the loss of discipline among the SEALs. Too many who were tempted to make money out of telling their stories. I think we saw a lot of that.

ZIERLER: How did you get involved in the so-called image makeover of Blackwater Security?

INMAN: The wonderful character here was Red McCombs. He had played football at Southwestern University in Georgetown, a Level III team, then get an option senior year to come play at UT in sort of the backup squad. Met Charline at Southwestern. They married. He's clearly not material to play professional ball, but he's a real salesman. He decided to get in the car business, and in San Antonio, got a Jeep distributorship and that began. As he began to have hard cash, he invested in some oil businesses. All that is successful, producing a lot more business. He gets back in football by buying the Minnesota Vikings. He then doubles back to focus on building his empire in Texas. Had some low points but then also recovered, and began being very philanthropic.

I had been serving on the Board of Trustees of Southwestern, same time I was pro bono teaching at UT Austin and doing Caltech. I knew how an absolute top-flight, private university focused on science and technology was doing. I had a pretty good internal vision of what a very large state university was doing. But I was fascinated with a small liberal arts school like Southwestern. Well, they had very successful alums, namely McCombs. Was approached, came on the Board of Trustees at Southwestern, and also very substantial donor. I completed my three four-year terms, had gone off the board, but at Red's insistence, I joined the Board of Advisors to offer some advice. I was I guess by this point appointed tenured full professor, flagship chair, but I had been chairman of the development board at UT in the intervening period.

Red makes his large gift to what became the McCombs Business School, calls me one day and asks how important are the security firms that protect State Department assets. You go back to my 1984/1985 commission for Secretary Shultz; I said the original desire had been to have a security force large enough to fill the job, but when the budgets went south, and they cut the prospective size, they solved that problem by hiring contractors. They had a couple of contractors. The largest one was Blackwater, which also performed functions for lots of other government activities. We watched first the four Blackwater employees who got hung and martyred. They increasingly recognized that Erik Prince was a cowboy, that he didn't think rules applied to him. A trust fund kid, with lots of money to spend, to build what he wanted to build and do what he wanted to do.

As Blackwater collapsed under the weight of the attack, the circle in Baghdad, it was for sale, and that was behind Red's call about the importance of the functions. My response was, "Potentially it's a very valuable asset, but you should only do it if you're prepared to clean it up, which means from the very beginning, you've got to go after how do you change the culture, how do you focus on satisfying your primary customers—State, Defense—that you have changed the culture." First CEO hired a woman lawyer to be general counsel, and she set out to totally remake the culture, to put in place all the protections that you needed. It was about that time that Red asked me if I'd go on the board, to help oversee that process. He's probably a year into it at that stage. The CEO has been hired. The name has been changed. But it's a huge effort to change the culture, and you needed somebody on the board who would strongly support the general counsel in what she was doing.

ZIERLER: What do you see as the diplomatic achievement of the JCPOA, the nuclear deal with Iran? Today, are there any hopes of reviving it?

INMAN: My problem with the JCPOA from the beginning was its verifiability. I had substantial confidence in the IAEA to oversee the enrichment process as long as they were given the access they needed. But my problem with the agreement—first, it did not prohibit nuclear weapons; it managed the acquisition of nuclear weapons. You couldn't do it for this period of time, didn't say you could never do it. And, for any activity other than enrichment that you wanted to visit, you had to get 25 days' notice. Well, what's the real key here? It's the ability to build a warhead that can fit on a ballistic missile. There were a lot of reports that the Iranians had gotten Russian scientists who had done that, inside Russia. Where would that take place? Not where the enrichment was. Most likely in military installations. The fact that you had to get 25 days' notice before you could go visit them—my Iraq experience told me that was highly questionable.

I did not support the agreement for two reasons. That it didn't prohibit weapons; it simply managed. But more importantly, that you couldn't verify, I believe, the most dangerous part of the process. But the way Trump went about doing it was about the worst possible way you can get. He didn't work with any of the other members. Didn't look to see, can you go and start revising, tighten the rules on verifiability. He just withdrew. That left the Iranians free to run. What was my other problem? That along with the JCPOA, you were releasing billions of frozen funds without trying to achieve any constraint on how they could be used. We now know that much of those funds flowed into building up the activities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and we're living with the consequences. Would the Iranians have agreed to limitations? I don't know. But we didn't really try.

ZIERLER: When Donald Trump was elected president, were you more in the school that he would rise to the office and shed some of his more disconcerting behaviors and statements from the campaign trail, or did you think that he would become exactly who he said he was going to be?

INMAN: It fulfilled my worst imagination of what it would be like. I thought he would be a disaster. If anything, he proved to be worse than I had anticipated. I had watched him rise to—I had seen him in the casinos in New Jersey and the rest of it, and real estate, and knew what a sleaze he was. Didn't feel bound by contracts or laws; he'd find a way around them. But where he really came to fame was as a reality TV star, and that's where he built a big constituency. That's how he learned what he could do through social media, to develop and maintain. He remained a reality TV star throughout the four years, and successfully maintained a very large reality TV audience, a large number of whom believe whatever he says or does. So, Stop the Steal, stolen election—first time that a presidential candidate who lost has refused to concede. Huge action. I've known Al Gore for a great many years. His father had asked me to coach him on arms control when he was first elected to the House. I worked with Gore much less when he got to the Senate. But, he conceded, after the Supreme Court decision, and you had a peaceful transfer. With Trump's unwillingness to concede, he set in motion the terrible events we saw on January the 6th, and it's not behind us yet at this point.

ZIERLER: Of all the indiscretions of the former president, in the world of intelligence and national security, what do you think history will remember as the most damaging policies and behavior of Donald Trump?

INMAN: His congenital inability to tell the truth, from the very beginning. Through the campaign, he would lie without any compunction at all, and you see it over and over and over again. You have a very large part of the population who come to see that he lies and gets away with it; maybe they can do the same thing. Sort of adds to their admiration of it. The damage he did to our international relationships is lasting. The America First—practiced in the 1930s—what's Putin going to do with Ukraine? If that's ongoing and we're all distracted, what's Xi going to do with Taiwan? Are we headed into another period where wars are acceptable as a way to gain real estate control? We'll see how the administration deals with these. Biden is not Franklin Roosevelt. He's trying to emulate him on the social programs, welfare programs, Go back and look at the history—even with America First out there, Roosevelt saw the threat, set about trying to strengthen lend-lease, all those other things. Didn't keep us from a surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, but he marshaled forces pretty swiftly after that. I hope we don't find Biden having to face the same kind of situation. I'm afraid it's more likely to be accepting Hitler swallowing Austria and then Czechoslovakia, the Japanese deciding they can move from just the Korean Peninsula to take Manchuria.

ZIERLER: Just a few more questions to bring the story up to the present, then we'll end with some retrospective questions. For you, pandemic preparedness has long been on your radar. Even so, what surprised you about COVID-19 and the global catastrophe that ensued?

INMAN: The inability to test. I could understand why we had not maintained the level of supplies that George W. Bush started after SARS and the rest of it, and that those stockpiles had not been maintained and refreshed, but the fact that we did not have large-scale ability to broadly test for a pandemic was quite a shock to me. We can track in phases—what could have been done in January wasn't, all the way forward to March before you finally begin to try to tackle. There's some good decisions here—the huge amount of money thrown into developing vaccine, but not a parallel effort on upgrading testing. Vaccines were going to take care of it. What I think hopefully omicron is going to force us to recognize—that this is going to be continuing, and how do we deal with these viruses. How do we get prepared to curtail them, to contain them, early, as they are mutating.

ZIERLER: Virologists and experts on Chinese culture will have their own answer, but for you and your experience in intelligence and even international subterfuge, what does it tell you that the Chinese government has been less than forthcoming regarding the origins of COVID-19?

INMAN: Party control, and the way it surfaced—the young doctor who pieced together patients in multiple hospitals—"This must be new"—that hadn't been cleared with the Party before he made his statements. At both Wuhan and the national level, slow to react, without making sure this was what the Party wanted them to do. Once they recognized it and the Party moved in—absolute control. Shut down whole population centers. We're seeing it now in Xi'an and Tianjin, as they worry about the impact on the February Olympics. How does that not become another super-spreader operation?

This is where the debate is going to come, ultimately: can we control and deal with pandemics through advances in vaccination, in ultimately persuading the bulk of the population to get vaccinated, so that they're close to herd immunity, as opposed to an authoritarian total seizure and crackdown? I looked at the crowds Monday night during the Alabama and Georgia championship games, and I'm waiting to see two weeks from now and the rise. If there isn't a surge, then maybe we're getting close to where we need to be, for this variation. What are we already doing looking for upgrading vaccines against potential future variants?

I don't want to be gloomy here. What does mRNA tell us about where we may be able to go attacking other diseases? Can you go after cancerous cells in a way that the current approaches don't let you deal with? Lost a young friend this past week who died from cancer around the outside of his lungs. Had gone on for ten years. Various efforts to try but ultimately unsuccessful. Is this going to offer a new way to in fact be successful in the fight? Can it go after pancreatic cancer? I want to see us push and pursue. I'm distressed by emails I get from people I know around the university who are not vaccinated, because they don't trust the way these vaccines were developed. They were done too fast, too manipulatively, not in the traditional way that vaccines have been developed, therefore they just don't trust them and unwilling to be vaccinated.

ZIERLER: Finally, to wrap up, some overall retrospective questions about your career and service, and then we'll end looking to the future. Let's return to Caltech, beyond JPL. In your 30 years of dedication to the California Institute of Technology, what are you most excited about for Caltech's future, and where do you see some major strategic challenges for the Institute?

INMAN: Its ability to attract and retain talent. Its ability to attract the brightest students to learn from that talent, and to help that talent push the frontiers of research. And overall management of the Institute. It has gone through some ups and downs. I'm a big Rosenbaum fan, and I think we're in a particularly good era right now. The role of philanthropy. What the Moores, and others have done with the large gifts that offer the potential of accelerating breakthroughs on a whole variety of fields. I'm very optimistic about the role of Caltech that I think will play in pushing a lot of frontiers going forward.

ZIERLER: One of the major narratives looking into the 21st century is that the United States as a global power is entering a period of decline. In all that you've seen and all that you've been a part of, do you think that's the correct narrative?

INMAN: It could be self-fulfilling, but I heard a lot of that same narrative in the 1980s—the Japanese were taking over, the Japanese were going to swamp us. The real answer was for the U.S. to run faster, pursue cutting-edge technology. But the ultimate success was not in hiding it, but was in implementing it faster. I look at some of these activities that I think, "You're crazy" from Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, et. Al., but are they going to take us in a whole new direction, taking advantage of what opportunities are out there in space. On the other hand, are they going to put so many small satellites out there that suddenly it's like going through a minefield to get done what you need to get done?

I'm more concerned about coherent political leadership, as I've watched both parties move toward their fringes, and leave the center underpopulated. In the years of my active service, in dealing with Israel, I dealt with Labor or Likud, went back and forth, depending on climate and country. Now, Labor disintegrated, and multiple parties broke off from Likud. Now you've got to pull together five or six different parties to be able to govern. Now look at Germany, where it was Social Democrats or CDU/CSU. Now we've got the far right, we've got the Greens, and we've got a split-up on the conservative side. You've got to gather coalitions of multiple parties to govern. Can you govern effectively? The next big test we're going to see is the French elections. Does Macron make it through to a second term? Does he have a legislative base that will let him govern effectively in that timeframe?

ZIERLER: Throughout your career, you have met a remarkable number of innovators. In every imaginable industry—military, finance, government—who have been some of your real heroes, who exhibited true leadership and vision?

INMAN: In the Navy, Arleigh Burke. The intelligence world, Rufus Taylor. Then Bob Gates. In the private sector, Ed Whitacre, who put back together AT&T. He was the single most effective CEO at career development, building a deep bench of talent to manage. Unfortunately, much of that has been squandered in the years since he stepped down. Michael Dell in his own way. The people who created Amgen, Gordon Binder and others—has gone on to different levels of leadership. I think we'll go back and identify some key decisionmakers in the pharmaceutical area. We also have some on the opposite side, the Sackler family in opioids and all the rest of that. We've had that through history in various industries.

What troubles me as I look to this next decade—migration, social media, global warming, climate change. There I'm still struggling with how much is accelerated by human activity, and how much of it is millennial cycles. I don't want our cures to make the problems worse. How do we feed, clothe, maintain health, significantly improve education for a burgeoning world population?

The last little tale—living on a farm in East Texas, studying by kerosene lamp, then suddenly electricity arrived. Rural Electric. Vast, huge difference that made. When I look at the huge populations in Africa, Asia, India, some parts of Latin America, how do you break out of poverty? Education. And how do you get that education level? Electricity. You're not going to get that on the scale needed in the near years from renewables. Renewables can reduce impact, but if you think about you're going to deprive the potential of bringing up the education level of poverty-stricken nations across the globe simply in the name of global warming and climate change, what's that tradeoff look like for what you could accomplish, as opposed to we may or may not have an impact.

ZIERLER: I have one more question and then we'll look to the future. If I may, a hallmark of your approach, no matter what you've been involved in, is challenging the conventional wisdom. What stands out in your memory as being most satisfactory that you were proven right, and what might you think about where you would say in retrospect maybe the conventional wisdom was right on that one?

INMAN: As I came to the private sector, the question was, could we arrest the decline of the U.S.? Taking new approaches, collaborative research, accelerating the speed with which U.S. companies applied new technology, new companies, new industries, growing up around it. And saw a substantial recovery. There's a lot of things that worry me now, but the top of the list is the loss of a consensus about the role the U.S. should play in the world. How do we rebuild that? Because if you don't have that, then we aren't going to play a significant role at the time when the world needs us to do so. Who else is going to lead if we aren't going to rise to that? This is where you get away from the selfishness—"Me first., how do I take care of what I want as opposed to what I need?" when you look at the much broader constraints. But we could go on with this for a very long separate discussion.

ZIERLER: Finally, looking to the future, amazingly you're so active. There's still so much that's important to you. What do you want to accomplish for as long as you want to remain active?

INMAN: High on that list is the topic we just discussed—how can you help rebuild a consensus across the country of the role we should play in the world? Why it's important for us to play that role in the world. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to education in the 30 years I spent looking at the outside world. In these 39 years subsequent to that, coming to understand both looking back, how important education was for me in breaking out of poverty to move on to prosperity, how can we deal with the ease and speed with which conspiracy theories and ideas are disseminated. You don't shout "Fire!" in a theatre, but you can on the internet start fires with no consequence. This again is where our previous president made lying totally acceptable. In my earlier years, what was not acceptable was stealing public money. That was the one thing that would get a politician in trouble. He could have affairs. He could do all kinds of other things. The public didn't know, didn't care. We're in a totally different world, and we haven't yet sorted through clear ideas, rules, how do you deal with it. Is no labels an adventure that might have some success? We'll see.

ZIERLER: Bob, I'd like to thank you so much for spending this time with me. I can't overstate what a historical treasure this will be, both for Caltech, and for the United States. It has been a great honor spending this time with you. I'd like to thank you so much.

INMAN: Thank you, David.

[END]