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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

William Thomas White - Glens Falls Post-StarState Supreme Court recognizes Judge Rick | Local News - The Morning SunThomas Glenn White Obituary - WKBN.comThomas White International LTD Has Lowered Home Depot (HD) Holding; Avis Budget Group (CAR)'s Sentiment Is 0.74 - The Moveefy3 Republicans, 2 Dems seek party nods next week to run for open Bangor House seat - Bangor Daily NewsEvergreen Capital Management Trimmed Intel (INTC) Holding By $1.53 Million; Thomas White International LTD Has Raised Its Infosys LTD Adr (INFY) Position - The MoveefyHis fraud took $2 million from senior citizens. He’ll be one when he gets out of prison - Miami HeraldJoe Perry, a former state senator, wins Democratic nod to run for Bangor, Orono House seat - Bangor Daily NewsThomas White International LTD Has Upped Its Cognizant Tech Solution (CTSH) Position by $378,994 as Market Valuation Declined; Dorsey Wright & Associates Has Upped Its Nrg Energy New (NRG) Position by $2.89 Million; Shares Rose - The Yomi BlogLSU linebacker Devin White announces he will leave for NFL draft: 'I'm beyond grateful' - Daily Local NewsThomas White International LTD Boosted Its Apple (AAPL) Holding; Abbott Laboratories (ABT) Stock Rose While Longer Investments Has Cut Stake - The Moveefy‘Miscarriage of justice’: Florida finally pardons four black men accused of rape in 1949 - The Washington PostParker Hannifin (PH) Stock Declined While Thomas White International LTD Has Upped Its Holding; Cf Inds Hldgs (CF) Holder Columbus Hill Capital Management LP Has Lowered Position by $23.97 Million - The MoveefyBack from Singapore: Camden cadets reflect on trip - The Daily AdvanceSpecial election to be held for open house seat - NewsCenterMaine.com WCSH-WLBZFibria Celulose Sa Adr (FBR) Shareholder Thomas White International LTD Has Lowered Its Holding as Stock Declined; Bollard Group Maintains Stake in Wal (WMT) - The Yomi BlogRoss Stores (ROST) Holder Thomas White International LTD Cut Its Holding by $553,509; Plains All Amer Pipeline LP Partnership Shares (PAA) Valuation Declined While Trust Asset Management Has Increased Position by $549,825 - The MoveefyAs Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) Share Value Declined, Holder Thomas White International LTD Has Decreased Holding by $673,200; As Facebook (FB) Market Value Declined, Family Management Has Increased Stake by $2.15 Million - The Yomi BlogKentucky Rep. Massie: Steve King never said anything racist around me - Courier JournalMills' vow not to raise taxes puts her at odds with some Maine Democrats and their allies - Bangor Daily News

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