Dumb Luck

The Honorable James Woolsey is the Chairman of Paladin's Strategic Advisory Group. He is a partner at Booz Allen Hamilton and from 1993 to 1995 was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  He endorsed Senator John McCain for president and served as one of McCain's foreign policy advisors.  In his government service, his law practice, and his service on corporate boards, Mr. Woolsey has focused on the practical application of innovative technology and on the legal and managerial requirements that are necessary to accomplish this. During the last two decades, he has served on the boards of fourteen companies; almost all have been significantly involved in using high technology to improve security as well as provide other benefits to private and public sector consumers. He was an early member of the board of directors of Yurie Systems, Inc., a provider of ATM access technology and equipment and access concentrators, which, in 1997, was named by Business Week as the fastest-growing corporation in the U.S. As Under Secretary of the Navy, as a member of the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management (Packard Commission), the Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the U.S. (Rumsfeld Commission, 1998) and as Director of Central Intelligence, Mr. Woolsey has been identified with promoting technological innovation in the interest of improving security.

Mr. Woolsey received his B.A. Degree from Stanford University (With Great Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa), and a M.A. Degree from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and an L.L.B. Degree from Yale Law School, where he was Managing Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: When did you first understand your life's purpose?

Jim Woolsey: My mother always wanted me to go to law school and to come back and practice law at my father’s firm.  And being an only child and somewhat independent, of course that was the last thing I was going to do.  I was always very interested in history.  Still I am.  I spent most of my years of junior high school, high school, and college thinking I was going to be a professor of history, mainly modern Europe focusing on Germany. I learned to speak German when I was a freshman at Stanford and was passably good at it, not great.  Studied at Stanford’s branch campus in Germany.  Worked in a German refugee camp – a Red Cross refugee camp in West Berlin in the summer of 1960 when I was 18.  That was a year before the wall went up, so we were helping refugees who were trying to get across before something happened.  We didn’t know what it was going to be, but it was going to be something.  And I finally decided about halfway through my first year at Oxford that I really wasn’t the sort of person who was going to be happy spending most of my life in a library writing books.  I might want to write one sometime, but I haven’t yet.  So I almost, by default, turned back to law.  I went to Yale Law School, loved it, did reasonably well and was headed for full time law practice – probably with a very fine Los Angeles firm where I’d interned during the summer, … & Meyers – when I had to go on active duty because I held an ROTC commission.  I was assigned to the Pentagon working on intelligence matters, and I’d been there about six months. 

Recorded on: 7/2/07


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