- William Howard Taft IV
William Howard Taft IV (born on
September 13 1945in Washington, D.C., USA) is the son of William Howard Taft IIIand the great-grandson of U.S. President William Howard Taftseealso|Taft family. Taft is an attorneywho has served in the United States government under several Republican administrations.
Taft attended St. Paul's School, graduating with classmate
John Kerryin 1962. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in English from Yale Universityin 1966 and his law degree from Harvard Law Schoolin 1969.
He and his late wife, Julia Vadala Taft, had three children—Maria Consetta Taft, Julia Harris Taft, and William Howard Taft V. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/18/AR2008031803341.html Julia Taft Obituary] ] He resides in Lorton, Va.
Government service and legal career
Taft served briefly as attorney adviser to the chairman of the
Federal Trade Commissionin 1970.
From 1970 to 1973, he was the principal assistant to
Caspar W. Weinberger, who was deputy director, then director, of the Office of Management and Budgetin the Executive Office of the Presidentunder President Richard Nixon. Taft assisted him in the management of the budgetary process, policy review, and program oversight for the entire federal government.
Taft served from 1973 to 1976 as the
executive assistantto the United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. In April 1976 Taft was appointed by President Gerald Fordto serve as general counselof the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In that post, as the chief lawyer for the department and the principal administrator of the Office of the General Counsel, he supervised over 350 lawyers in Washington and 10 regional offices.
During the Carter administration, he was an attorney with the Washington, D.C.
law firmof Leva, Hawes, Symington, Martin and Oppenheimer.
1981, as one of his first appointments, President Ronald Reaganappointed Taft as general counsel of the United States Department of Defense. Taft was then appointed Deputy Secretary of Defenseand served from January 1984 to April 1989. He served as acting Secretary of Defensefrom January to March 1989 after George H. W. Bushbecame president. Bush's initial nominee, John Tower, was not confirmed by the United States Senateafter much contentious debate and testimony. The eventual appointee confirmed in March was Richard B. Cheney (later Vice President of the United States, 2001-2009). Although he was only acting Secretary of Defense, and never confirmed as the permanent Secretary, he became the third member of his family to hold a position as civilian head of a military department, following his great-great-grandfather Alphonso Taft(under President Ulysses S. Grant) and his great-grandfather William Howard Taft(under President Theodore Roosevelt).
Taft served as U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, which has the rank of ambassador, from 1989 to 1992, during the
During the Clinton administration, Taft entered private practice with the
Washington, D.C., law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.
ervice in George W. Bush administration
After the election of
2000, George W. Bushappointed Taft to serve as chief legal advisor to the United States Department of Stateunder Secretary of State Colin Powell, with whom he was reportedly friends. This appointment was technically a significantly lower appointment than he had held in other administrations, but it permitted him to work with his wife, Julia Taft, a top State Department official in charge of refugeeswho also served during the Clinton administration.
In 2004, Taft's name surfaced as a dissenter concerning the policy of interrogation techniques for military detainees. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A759-2004Jun23.html Lawyer for State Dept. Disputed Detainee Memo ] ] In a
January 11, 2002, memo, Taft opposed Department of Justice lawyers to argue that the president could not "suspend" U.S. obligations to respect the Geneva Conventionsand that a legal argument to do so was "legally flawed and procedurally impossible." This was also the position of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who attempted to persuade Bush to reconsider. Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, subsequently advised Bush in a memo that Taft and Powell were wrong and the Justice Department's analysis was "definitive." Gonzales said terrorist attacks "require a new approach in our actions toward captured terrorists," and noted that terrorists had never respected the Geneva Conventions' human rights protections.
Leaving government service
After the re-election of President Bush, resignation of Colin Powell and appointment of
Condoleezza Riceas secretary of state, Taft resigned to return to private practice, again at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Currently he is a visiting professor in international law and diplomacy at Stanford Law School. [http://www.law.stanford.edu/news/pr/57/William%20Taft%20IV%20to%20Join%20Stanford%20Law%20School%20as%20the%20Warren%20Christopher%20Professor%20of%20the%20Practice%20of%20International%20Law%20and%20Diplomacy/ "William Taft IV to Join Stanford Law School as the Warren Christopher Professor of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy"] Stanford Law School, April 4, 2007]
On September 12, 2006, Taft co-signed (along with 28 other retired military or defense department officials) a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee in which he stated his belief that the Bush Administration's attempt to redefine Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention "poses a grave threat" to U.S. service members.
Taft is said to be one of the sources who told journalists
David Cornand Michael Isikoffthat former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitagewas the source syndicated columnist Robert Novakhad when he made public the fact that Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA. In a review of Corn's and Isikoff's book, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War", Novak wrote: "I don't know precisely how Isikoff flushed out Armitage [as Novak's original source] , but "Hubris" clearly points to two sources: Washington lobbyist Kenneth Duberstein, Armitage's political adviser, and William Taft IV, who was the State Department legal adviser when Armitage was deputy secretary." [http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=12785&R=EE501DF13 Novak, Robert, "Who Said What When: The rise and fall of the Valerie Plame 'scandal'] ", The Weekly Standard, October 16, 2006, book review of "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War", by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, accessed October 8, 2008]
* [http://www.ffhsj.com/index.cfm?pageID=42&itemID=620 Bio at Fried, Frank, Harris, Schriver & Jacobson LLP]
* [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/12312.htm United States Department of State: US Ambassadors to NATO]
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