Open main menu

William H. Webster

For other people named William Webster, see William Webster.

William Hedgcock Webster (born March 6, 1924) is an American attorney and jurist serving as Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council since 2005.[1][2] He was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit before becoming Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1978 to 1987 and Director of Central Intelligence (CIA) from 1987 to 1991[3]—the only person to have held both of these positions.

William Webster
Chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council
Assumed office
August 10, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Barack Obama
Donald Trump
DeputyJames R. Schlesinger
Gary Hart
William Bratton
Preceded byJoseph J. Grano Jr.
12th Director of Central Intelligence
In office
May 26, 1987 – August 31, 1991
PresidentRonald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
DeputyRobert Gates
Richard James Kerr
Preceded byWilliam J. Casey
Succeeded byRobert Gates
3rd Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
In office
February 23, 1978 – May 25, 1987
PresidentJimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
DeputyJames B. Adams
Preceded byClarence M. Kelley
Succeeded byWilliam S. Sessions
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
In office
July 18, 1973 – February 22, 1978
Appointed byRichard Nixon
Preceded byMarion Charles Matthes
Succeeded byTheodore McMillian
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
In office
December 21, 1970 – August 10, 1973
Appointed byRichard Nixon
Preceded bySeat established
Succeeded byJohn Francis Nangle
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri
In office
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
Preceded byHarry Richards
Succeeded byJeff Lance
Personal details
William Hedgcock Webster

(1924-03-06) March 6, 1924 (age 94)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationAmherst College (AB)
Washington University (JD)


Education and careerEdit

Webster was born in St. Louis, Missouri and received his early education in Webster Groves, Missouri;[4] he received his Artium Baccalaureus degree from Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts where he was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, in 1947 and his Juris Doctor from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis in 1949. After serving as a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II, he joined a St. Louis firm, but left private practice soon after to begin a career in public service. He was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri from 1960 to 1961, then a member of the Missouri Board of Law Examiners from 1964 to 1969.[5]

Federal judicial serviceEdit

Webster was nominated by President Richard Nixon on December 8, 1970, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, to a new seat created by 84 Stat. 294. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 17, 1970, and received his commission on December 21, 1970. His service was terminated on August 10, 1973, due to elevation to the Eighth Circuit.[5]

Webster was nominated by President Nixon on June 13, 1973, to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit vacated by Judge Marion Charles Matthes. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 13, 1973, and received his commission on July 18, 1973. His service was terminated on February 22, 1978, due to his resignation.[5]

Director of the FBI and CIAEdit

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed him as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[6] This was despite Webster being a registered Republican.[7][8] In 1987, President Ronald Reagan chose him to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He led the CIA until his retirement from public office in 1991. Since then, Webster has practiced law at the Washington D.C. office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy where he specializes in arbitration, mediation and internal investigation.


William Webster (right) with Dick Cheney (left) and Brent Scowcroft (center)

In 2002, he was the first chairman of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). However, his appointment was controversial, and another controversy erupted when newspapers reported that Webster had served on the board audit committee of U.S. Technologies, a high-tech company being investigated for accounting irregularities. Webster resigned less than three weeks after the PCAOB was set up.[9]

Honors and awardsEdit

Webster received numerous honors and awards for his service. Washington University granted him the Alumni Citation for contributions to the field of law in 1972 and in 1981 he received the William Greenleaf Eliot Award. In 1984, he received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[10] In 1999 the School of Law created the Webster Society, an outstanding scholars program. Furthermore, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the university's law school in 1977. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat named him "Man of the Year."

He also received honorary degrees from several colleges and universities. In 1991, he was presented the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Security Medal. In June 2008 Webster received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree as well as honorary doctorates from The Institute of World Politics and National Intelligence University.[11] He received the William J. Donovan Award from The OSS Society in 2005 and serves as an honorary chairman of this organization.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, the Council of the American Law Institute, the Order of the Coif, The Missouri Bar, the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. Additionally, he served as chairman of the Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He served as Co-chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council. In 2009, he was named to head an independent investigation of the FBI's actions surrounding the Fort Hood shooting.[12]

Personal lifeEdit

Webster in June 2016

He was married for 34 years to Drusilla Lane Webster, and the couple had three children: Drusilla, William H. Webster, Jr. and Katherine. Following Drusilla Webster's death in 1984, he was remarried in 1990 to the former Lynda Clugston. They reside in Washington, D.C.


On March 3, 2002, the University of California, Santa Barbara, held a debate titled "National Security vs. Personal Liberty". The guest speakers were Webster and American Civil Liberties Union President Nadine Strossen. During the debate, Webster made the following statement,[citation needed] which has since gained some popularity: "Security is always seen as too much until the day it is not enough". He also stated: "Order protects liberty and liberty protects order."


  1. ^ "Error".
  2. ^ "Homeland Security Advisory Council Members". 14 January 2014.
  3. ^ "Chapter Ten — Central Intelligence Agency".
  4. ^ "Interview of Judge William H. Webster ", March 2006, Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, Inc
  5. ^ a b c William Hedgcock Webster at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  6. ^ "Interview with William H. Webster" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine., 2005, The Miller Center
  7. ^ Babcock, Charles R. (19 January 1978). "Carter Chooses St. Louis Judge As FBI Director" – via
  8. ^ Shenon, Philip. "WANTED BY F.B.I. -- A NEW DIRECTOR".
  9. ^ David Stout, "Webster Ends His Brief Stint on S.E.C. Oversight Board", November 12, 2002, The New York Times.
  10. ^ "National - Jefferson Awards Foundation".
  11. ^ "Iconic Leader Honored for a Lifetime of Service, Along with NIU's Class of 2015 Graduates. Judge William Webster Receives Honorary Degree in Intelligence – National Intelligence University".
  12. ^ "Former FBI chief picked to lead review". 2009-12-08. Retrieved 2012-07-20.

External linksEdit