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Melvin Laird
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Politician
    (September 1, 1922-November 16, 2016)
    Born in Omaha, Nebraska
    US Congressman from Wisconsin (1953-69)
    US Secretary of Defense (1969-73)
    Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1974)
    He urged Congress to create a second Deputy Secretary of Defense, then never got around to naming anyone to the position.
    He privately opposed Richard Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia, but supported it publicly (1970).
    Shortly before his tenure as Secretary of Defense ended, he declared, ‘The South Vietnamese people today, in my view, are fully capable of providing their own in-country security against the North Vietnamese.’ Instead, South Vietnam would collapse just two years after the US ended its direct military support.
    Henry Kissinger said, ‘When [Laird] calls to complain about a newspaper story, you know he has put it out himself.’
    He was president of his class at Carleton College.
    He earned a Purple Heart serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
    President Dwight David Eisenhower so admired his work in Congress for national defense and medical research that he named Laird ‘one of the ten men best qualified to become President of the United States.’
    He ended the micromanaging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff practiced by his predecessor as Defense Secretary, Robert S. McNamara.
    In a sort of one-man anti-war protest, poet Allen Ginsberg pissed on his house.
    After meeting with the families of POWs, he held a press conference to accuse North Vietnam of abusing American prisoners of war (1972).
    John McCain said, ‘There are many of us who believe that perhaps we wouldn’t have returned from the war if it had not been for Secretary Laird publicizing the plight of the POWs. Conditions changed dramatically afterwards.’
    He ended the draft, beginning the transition to an all-volunteer military (1973).
    He kept the Defense Department out of the Watergate scandal, having successfully rebuffed an attempt by Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman to enlist the National Security Agency in spying on political opponents of the administration.

Credit: C. Fishel


    For 2018, as of last week, Out of 2 Votes: 0% Annoying
    In 2017, Out of 5 Votes: 40.0% Annoying
    In 2016, Out of 76 Votes: 65.79% Annoying
 
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