Cambone, Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld's right-hand man, was for the first time caught in the glare
of media attention as part of the congressional inquiry into Iraq prison
abuses. Under sharp questioning by a few senators on May 11, 2004, Cambone
vigorously defended both Rumsfeld and Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense
for policy. Cambone's attempt to split hairs on whether the Geneva Conventions
were applicable to intelligence gathering in Iraq and his awkward defense
of the role of military intelligence in interrogations put him at odds with
the U.S. Army general who first investigated abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.
As the first-ever undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Cambone will
likely come under increased fire as the prison scandal unfolds. Some of
the most intense questioning of Cambone centered on whether the Geneva Conventions
were "precisely" respected. What "precisely" Cambone knew and when he knew
it, and what precisely was the role of military intelligence will be questions
that Cambone will be required to answer.
Cambone, who as director of strategic defense policy during
the Bush I administration under Defense Secretary Cheney had been a prominent
promoter of missile defense systems, served as the staff director of the
two congressional commissions – one on missile defense and another on
space weapons – chaired by Donald Rumsfeld in the late 1990s.
The two Rumsfeld commissions focused on the issues at
the top of the list for the national security militarists and the large
military contractors: the ballistic missile threat to the United States
and U.S. space-based defense capabilities. In the tradition of Team B,
the unstated agenda of these commissions was to turn up pressure on the
administration to support new weapons programs and substantially increase
major military spending. Both commissions received funding from defense
spending bills – in effect using taxpayer revenues to subsidize them.
But perusing the backgrounds and connections of the individuals charged
with overseeing the commissions, Rumsfeld and his right-hand man Stephen
Cambone, most observers at the time believed that the conclusions were
After Rumsfeld was named defense secretary, he made Cambone
his special assistant in January 2001. Then, in March 2003 Cambone was
appointed the first-ever undersecretary for intelligence – a position
that "will allow the Defense Department to consolidate its intelligence
programs in a way that could undermine CIA head George Tenet's role,"
one defense analyst noted. Well-known and much-despised by both military
and civilian officials in the Pentagon prior to joining the Bush II administration,
Cambone, serving as Rumsfeld's henchman and intelligence chief, soon began
creating a new enemies list in the CIA and State Department.
While Cambone was directing the two Rumsfeld commissions,
he also participated in two national security strategy and military transformation
commissions sponsored by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC)
and the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP). The institute's 2001
report, Rationale and Requirements for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control,
and PNAC's Rebuilding America's Defenses were blueprints for
Rumsfeld's promised "revolution in military affairs." Several other PNAC
associates, in addition to Rumsfeld himself, also served on the Rumsfeld
commissions, including Paul Wolfowitz, Malcolm Wallop, William Schneider,
and James Woolsey. Both the NIPP and PNAC studies seem to have served
as blueprints for the defense policies initiated by the administration
W. Bush with respect to nuclear policy, national
security strategy, and military transformation.
Despite – and perhaps because of – his close relationship
to the defense secretary, Cambone is apparently widely disliked in the
Donnelly, PNAC military analyst and lead author of Rebuilding America's
Defenses, wrote in the Weekly
Standard that "fairly
or not, Cambone has long been viewed as Rumsfeld's henchman, almost universally
loathed – but more important, feared – by the services." The Washington
Monthly reported in late 2001, "It would be hard to exaggerate how
much Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top aide Stephen Cambone
were hated within the Pentagon prior to September 11. Among other mistakes,
Rumsfeld and Cambone foolishly excluded top civilian and military leaders
when planning an overhaul of the military to meet new threats, thereby
ensuring even greater bureaucratic resistance. According to the Washington
Post, an Army general joked to a Hill staffer that "if he had
one round left in his revolver, he would take out Steve Cambone."
Cambone's reputation in the building hasn't improved much since Sept.11,
but Rumsfeld's has been transformed.
When asked by the New York Times (April 11, 2003)
if he thought hard-liners in the Pentagon had politicized intelligence
to support arguments for the war in Iraq, Cambone responded: "Any policy
maker has certain views. Policy makers are where they are and doing what
they do because they have a view." Further, he said, "The politicization
of intelligence, I think, happens when intelligence is thought to be more
than it is. And what it can be at best is a summary judgment at a given
moment in time based on the information that one has been able to glean."
Cambone's work on missile defense issues extends well
beyond his participation on the influential Rumsfeld missile threat commission.
According to the Carnegie
Non-Proliferation Project, "As Director of Strategic Defense Policy,
[Cambone] was a major contributor to President [George H.W.] Bush's decision
to refocus the SDI [Strategic Defense Initiative] program in 1991 and
developed the concept for a global protection system. He was a member
of the high-level group appointed by the president to discuss the global
protection system with Russia, U.S. allies, and other states. In addition,
he was responsible for addressing and resolving policy issues that arose
in the compliance review group (DOD [Department of Defense] organization
to oversee compliance with the ABM [antiballistic missile] treaty) and
the strategic systems committee of the Defense Acquisition Board, which
is responsible for approving DOD weapon system acquisition."
Before he joined the Bush Sr. administration, Cambone
worked for SRS
Technologies, a defense contractor. SRS recently received
a $6 million contract to provide administrative and management support
for the Missile Defense Agency.
SRS has also received a lot of attention recently for
its work on the controversial military effort to mine the passenger records
Torch Concepts, the SRS subcontractor that worked on the project, "worked
directly with the Army and had a specific mandate to ferret information
out of data stream [to find the] abnormal behavior of secretive people,"
said SRS's Bart Edsall in an interview with Wired News. Privacy
advocates immediately cried foul when the story broke. Lee Tien of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation said, "We should put the brakes on all
these data-mining programs, and have a serious national conversation,
because travel data is just one example of the many kinds of data every
data-mining operation wants to suck in from private business."
"Stephen Cambone," Right
Web Profiles (Silver City, NM: Interhemispheric Resource Center, May
Defense University, Institute for National Strategic Studies:
Director of Research
for Strategic and International Studies: Senior Fellow for
Political-Military Studies, 1993-1998
Institute for Public Policy (NIPP): Member of team that produced
a January 2001 NIPP study entitled Rationale and Requirements
for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control, which served as
a blueprint for George W. Bush’s Nuclear Posture Review.
for the New American Century: Project Participant on PNAC’s
2001 “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” report
of Defense: Special Assistant to the Secretary and Director
for Program Analysis & Evaluation, March 2003-Present
of Defense: Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for
to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and Organization:
to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States: Staff
of Defense: Director of the Strategic Defense Policy Office,
Bush Sr. adminstration
- Los Alamos
National Laboratory: Served on the staff of the director and
specialized in theater nuclear weapons issues
Connections/ Business Interests
Deputy Director of Strategic Analysis, 1986-1990
University Graduate School:
M.A. and Ph.D.