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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Christopher Williams

  • Lobbyist 
  • Horizon Strategies Group: Principal
  • Defense Department: Former special assistant to Donald Rumsfeld 

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Chris Williams is a veteran defense lobbyist and former Pentagon official who was once described as Donald Rumsfeld's "right-hand man."[1] He is currently a principal at the Horizon Strategies Group consulting firm,[2] which hosts a bevy of former government officials and purports to "help corporations match emerging technologies and services to the Nation’s most perplexing security challenges."[3]

Williams joined the Pentagon in 2001 and served in a handful of posts as an aide to Donald Rumsfeld. However, he left soon after a controversy arose regarding Rumsfeld's decision to suspend joint U.S.-Chinese military exercises, a move that reportedly infuriated then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.[4] According to Williams' supporters, namely the neoconservative Weekly Standard stalwarts William Kristol and Robert Kagan, Rumsfeld allowed Williams to be blamed for a memo ordering the suspension despite his own responsibility for the decision.[5] After he Rumsfeld's staff, Williams began working as a lobbyist at Johnston & Associates.[6]

Williams continued to participate in militarist defense initiatives throughout the George W. Bush presidency, including as an adviser to the Department of Defense. Among his roles, he was a member of the Pentagon's controversial Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel, which recommended maintaining and expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

During the lead-up to the Iraq War, Williams also served on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board (DPB), a civilian-led advisory panel to the Department of Defense. Like DPB chairman Richard Perle, who was the driving force behind the board's activities at the time, Williams was criticized for having a financial stake in the defense industry at the same time that he was serving on a board that urged hawkish policies like the invasion of Iraq. In Williams' case, he was serving as a lobbyist for a number of defense contractors.[7]

In March 2003, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) reported extensively on the links between DPB members and defense contractors. "Chris Williams is one of four registered lobbyists to serve on the board, and the only one to lobby for defense companies," CPI reported. "Although the firm had represented Lockheed Martin prior to Williams' arrival," the report added, "the firm picked up three large defense contractors as clients once Williams was on board: Boeing, TRW, and Northrop Grumman, for which the firm earned a total of more than $220,000. The firm lobbied exclusively on defense appropriations and related authorization bills for its new clients." Perle ultimately resigned his chairmanship of the DPB in response to press reports documenting his own financial ties.[8]

During his time on the DPB, Williams became vice president for federal programs at Oakley Networks, a cyber-security firm that lauded itself as "the insider threat protection standard" for the Pentagon. The firm was later bought out by Raytheon, another military contracting giant.[9] In the intervening years, he served on the advisory boards of defense contractors like the O'Gara Group[10] and Arxan Technologies.

Williams has also supported various non-governmental advocacy and policy campaigns over the years. He signed a 2003 Project for the New American Centuryletter calling for increased defense spending. He was also a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a neoconservative-led non-governmental advocacy group that was reportedly tasked by the Bush administration with drumming up Beltway support for the Iraq War. In 2004, he was one of the principal authors of a study on "Defense Reform for a New Strategic Era" organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A New York Times report on the study said many of its recommendations "parallel efforts by Mr. Rumsfeld to make the military leaner and more agile."[11] In 2009, he was a member—along with notable foreign policy hawks like Robert Zoellick, Michele Flournoy, and Dennis Ross—of the Aspen Institute's Aspen Strategy Group.[12]  

Williams appears to have gained his entre into national politics as a congressional staffer in the 1990s. He served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee from 1991 until 1997, and then served as deputy staff director of the Senate Intelligence Committee from 1997 to 1999. He began his lobbying career during this period.[13] After working with then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) as a foreign policy adviser beginning in 1999, Williams joined the staff of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2001 as a special assistant for policy matters.[14]

During the 1990s, Williams served on the Board of Advisers of Henry Sokolski's Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC). In 1996, he contributed a chapter entitled "DOD's Counterproliferation Initiative: A Critical Assessment" to Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties, a volume edited by Sokolski and featuring contributions from neoconservatives Paul Wolfowitz and Kenneth Timmerman.[15]

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[1] Robert Kagan and William Kristol, "The 'Adults' Make a Mess," Weekly Standard, May 14, 2001, http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/Content/Protected/Articles/000/000/000/583oglxj.asp.

[2] Horizon Strategies Group, "Key Personnel: Christopher A. Williams," http://thehorizonstrategiesgroup.com/category/key-personnel/christopher-a-williams.

[3] Horizon Strategies Group, http://thehorizonstrategiesgroup.com.

[4] Robert Kagan and William Kristol, "The 'Adults' Make a Mess," Weekly Standard, May 14, 2001, http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/Content/Protected/Articles/000/000/000/583oglxj.asp.

[5] Robert Kagan and William Kristol, "The 'Adults' Make a Mess," Weekly Standard, May 14, 2001, http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/Content/Protected/Articles/000/000/000/583oglxj.asp.

[6] OpenSecrets, “Christopher Williams,” http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=21945.

[7] Andrew Verloy and Daniel Politi, "Advisers of Influence: Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors," Center for Public Integrity, March 28, 2003, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/after/2003/0328advisors.htm.

[8] Andrew Verloy and Daniel Politi, "Advisers of Influence: Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors," Center for Public Integrity, March 28, 2003, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/after/2003/0328advisors.htm.

[9] Raytheon press release, " Raytheon Announces Agreement to Purchase Oakley Networks," September 20, 2007, http://investor.raytheon.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=84193&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1053751&highlight.

[10] Business Wire, "The O'Gara Group Forms Board of Advisors," August 13, 2004, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20040813005431/en/OGara-Group-Forms-Board-Advisors.

[11] Clark A. Murdock et al., "Beyond Goldwater-Nichols: Defense Reform for a New Strategic Era," Center for Strategic and International Studies, March 2004, http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/bgn_ph1_report.pdf.

[12] The Aspen Institute, “Aspen Strategy Group,” Internet Archive website, http://web.archive.org/web/20090220185801/http://www.aspeninstitute.org/site/c.huLWJeMRKpH/b.612047/k.1222/Aspen_Strategy_Group.htm.

[13] OpenSecrets, “Christopher Williams,” http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=21945.

[14] OpenSecrets, “Christopher Williams,” http://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=21945.

[15] Chris Williams, "DOD's Counterproliferation Initiative: A Critical Assessment," in Henry Sokolski, ed., Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties (Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1996), http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/fp/b19ch14.htm.

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Christopher Williams Résumé


  • Aspen Institute: Former Member, Aspen Strategy Group
  • Nonproliferation Policy Education Center: Former Member, Board of Advisers
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies: Non-resident Senior Associate, Report Author
  • Committee for the Liberation of Iraq: Former Member
  • Project for the New American Century: Letter Signatory (2003)


  • Department of Defense: Former member, Task Force on DOD Nuclear Weapons Management; Former member, Defense Policy Board; Former member, Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel; Former acting under secretary of defense for policy; Member of George W. Bush transition team; Former special assistant to Donald Rumsfeld
  • Department of Energy: Former member, National Nuclear Security Administration Advisory Board
  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency: Former advisory committee member
  • U.S. Senate: Adviser to Trent Lott, (1999-2001); Former legislative assistant for national security affairs to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Former legislative assistant for foreign affairs to Rep. Robert Lagomarsino (R-CA)
  • Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: Deputy staff director and budget director (1997-1999)
  • House Armed Services Committee: Professional staff member (1991-1997)


  • Horizon Strategies Group: Principal
  • Arxan Technologies, Inc: Former member, business advisory board
  • O'Gara Group: Former member, board of advisers
  • Oakley Networks: Former vice president of federal programs
  • Johnston & Associates: Former partner


  • University of California, Los Angeles: B.A., Political Science
  • Georgetown University: M.A., Government


Christopher Williams News Feed

Man killed inside Lawndale apartment - Chicago Sun-TimesFather charged after 2-year-old dies from self-inflicted gunshot wound - KTRK-TVNewton A. Williams | Obituaries - The Star DemocratCampus News | Education - MDJOnline.comWilliams notches hole-in-one at Wine Valley on Saturday - Walla Walla Union-BulletinSTEM for all: Innovation lab added at Timmonsville school in Florence County School District Four - SCNowQuartet of R&B acts to serve as feast for mothers at Boardwalk Hall - Press of Atlantic CityAd Astra Theatre Ensembe to present Vietnam War-era musical, Dogfight - Leavenworth TimesBoardwalk Hall to celebrate Mom at the Mother's Day Music Fest - Atlantic City WeeklyRobin Williams and Christopher Reeve's Devoted Friendship Began as Juilliard Roommates - BiographyMarianna man arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer - My PanhandleChristopher Howard-Williams - Distinguished Achievement Award winner - Bluegrass TodayInmate is accused of threatening the cop who busted him. The conversation was recorded. - Miami HeraldMarianna man charged with battery on law enforcement officer - Dothan FirstGunfire erupts at DeKalb apartments after resident confronts alleged car thieves - Atlanta Journal ConstitutionBishop O'Connell class of 2019 - Arlington Catholic HeraldMan facing charges for sexual assault of a minor - WPMT FOX 43U.S. Government Purchases Citadel Defense Technology to Prevent Drone Attacks in Highly Sensitive Areas - Yahoo FinanceFlorida Keys cops arrest one man in January home invasion and are looking for another - Miami HeraldWhy Was the Night King Immune to Fire During the ‘Game of Thrones’ Battle of Winterfell? - PureWow

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