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

Thomas White

  • Former Secretary of the Army
  • Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs: Participant/award recipient
  • Enron: Former vice chairman/senior executive

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Thomas White is a former Enron executive and Secretary of the Army. His brief yet tumultuous tenure in the Bush Pentagon, where he served from 2001 to 2003, was marked by public scrutiny into his business dealings and by conflicts with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over Iraq planning and force modernization issues.

White left the U.S. army in 1990 after a 23-year career that saw him reach the rank of brigadier general, becoming a vice chairman of energy services at an eponymous subsidiary of the Enron Corporation. White actively leveraged his military connections to secure government contracts for Enron during his 11-year tenure there.[1]

White apparently preserved his connections at Enron after his Department of the Army appointment in 2001, promising to escalate the use of such contracts even as he retained millions of dollars worth of holdings in his former employer.[2] His dealings attracted widespread scrutiny and created the impression of a conflict of interest, leading to congressional hearings into his Enron connections.[3]

Although Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who apparently required his appointees to have corporate experience, publicly backed White over his Enron connections, the two butted heads over other issues. In one instance, White circulated a list of talking points among members of Congress supporting the implementation of a weapons system that Rumsfeld wanted to cut. In another, White refused to rebuke a subordinate—General Eric Shinseki—for publicly warning that a U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq would require “several hundred thousand” troops, a politically unappetizing estimate opposed by war planners like Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz. The cumulative effect of these tensions, amid ongoing revelations about White’s ties to Enron, led Rumsfeld to demand White’s resignation in April 2003.[4]

After leaving the administration, White openly criticized the Defense Department’s decision-making in Iraq, arguing in a 2003 book entitled Reconstructing Eden (which White coauthored with three economists), "It is quite clear in the immediate aftermath of hostilities that the plan for winning the peace is totally inadequate. Clearly the view that the war to 'liberate' Iraq would instantly produce a pro-United States citizenry ready for economic and political rebirth ignored harsh realities on the ground."[5]

In 2001, prior to his falling out with Rumsfeld, White was courted by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a neoconservative-linked group that promotes ties between U.S. and Israeli military officials. In 1997, White and his wife attended one of the group’s junkets to Israel, and in 2001 it awarded him its Scoop Jackson Distinguished Service Award. Accepting the award, White praised JINSA’s “interest in keeping America strong” and warned that “our enemies will attack if they perceive our weakness, physical or moral.”


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[1] Jayson Blair, “Ft. Hamilton Utility Deal With Enron Is Questioned,” New York Times, March 10, 2002, http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/10/business/10BID.html.

[2] Laurence McQuillan, "Ex-Enron official speeds Army's energy deals White's push to privatize isn't a conflict, Pentagon says," USA Today, January 21, 2002.

[3] See, for example, CBS News, “Army Chief Faces Enron Questions,” July 18, 2002, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/07/22/politics/main515789.shtml.

[4] CNN.com, “Source: Army secretary resigns on Rumsfeld's demand,” April 25, 2003, http://articles.cnn.com/2003-04-25/us/white.fired_1_crusader-artillery-system-secretary-white-army-secretary?_s=PM:US.

[5] Quoted in Robert Burns, “Ex-Army official blasts US plan,” Boston.com, September 3, 2003, http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/09/03/ex_army_official_blasts_us_plan/

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Thomas White Résumé


  • Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs(JINSA): Recipient of JINSA's 2001 Henry "Scoop" Jackson Distinguished Service Award (along with the other service secretaries, Gordon England and James Roche); Member of JINSA-sponsored junket to Israel, 1997


  • Former Secretary of the Army, 2001-2003
  • U.S. Army: Highest rank was Brigadier General, 1967-1990


  • Enron: Former vice chairman/senior executive, 1990-2001


  • West Point
  • United States Army War College
  • Naval Postgraduate School: Degree in operations, 1974


Thomas White News Feed

Tauntons Thomas White graduates from basic training - Taunton Daily GazetteThomas White, 89 - Ripley BeeFather Thomas White: 'We Need to Renew the Priesthood' - National Catholic RegisterWhite, Lenice | Obituaries - Post RegisterGlobal Automotive Reed Switches Market 2019 – TE Connectivity, Thomas White, Bimba Manufacturing, Aleph, SMC Corporation - Accent PlanetWhat if Western Illinois' Jack Thomas Were White or Asian? - Diverse: Issues in Higher EducationGun sting and traffic stop gets Asheville, Barnardsville men 2-6 year federal sentences - Asheville Citizen-TimesJustice Thomas just handed down an opinion that would make it legal to kick black people off juries - ThinkProgressOrange parade rerouted to avoid Glasgow St Alphonsus church - BBC NewsMaintaining Market Access [White Paper] | Thomas Fox - JD SupraThomas White International LTD Has Upped Its Holding in Microsoft (MSFT) by $305370 as Valuation Rose; Walmart Com (WMT) Market Valuation Rose While Parsec Financial Management Has Upped Its Position - Stocks BeatWills Financial Group Has Cut Its Position in Exxon Mobil (XOM) by $356320; As Baidu Adr Rep A (BIDU) Market Value Declined, Thomas White International LTD Has Lifted by $562028 Its Holding - Stocks BeatYy Ads Cla (YY) Share Price Declined While Thomas White International LTD Has Lifted Holding; Kratos Defense & Sec Solutio (KTOS) Shareholder Managed Asset Portfolios Has Lowered Position by $1.73 Million - Stocks BeatAlley Company Has Raised Danaher (DHR) Position by $323268 as Market Valuation Rose; Thomas White International LTD Raised Stake in Baidu Adr Rep A (BIDU) by $562028 as Shares Declined - Stocks BeatDanny B. White | Obituaries - Bowling Green Daily News7,985 Shares in Medtronic PLC (NYSE:MDT) Purchased by Thomas White International Ltd. - Rockland RegisterUnitedhealth Group (UNH) Shareholder Thomas White International LTD Has Trimmed Position as Share Value Declined; Towercrest Capital Management Has Increased Its American Intl Group Com New (AIG) Position by $484868 as Valuation Rose - Stocks BeatListen to Sonia Sotomayor Shut Down Clarence Thomas Question in Supreme Court Case on Racist Jury Selection - MediaiteFormer ICE chief Thomas Homan returning to administration as border czar, Trump says - Fox NewsAs Amphenol (APH) Stock Value Rose, Trust Co Of Oklahoma Raised Holding; Open Text Adr (OTEX) Valuation Rose While Thomas White International LTD Trimmed Position - Stocks Beat

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