Privacy SOS

John Poindexter is a former admiral in the US Navy who served as national security adviser in the Reagan administration. A devotee of emerging computer technology, he undertook to bring the White House into the digital age.

He was an architect of the 1985 Iran-Contra affair, under which the administration illegally and secretly sold weapons to Iran in hopes of getting the release of hostages being held in Lebanon. The payment for the weapons was used to arm the right-wing Contras, who were trying to overthrow the Sandinista-run government of Nicaragua.

Poindexter was convicted in April 1990 of charges of deceiving Congress and defrauding the government, and sentenced to six months in prison. His conviction was later overturned on the grounds that immunized testimony he gave to Congress was wrongly used against him in his trial.

Early in the 21st century, he began working for the government again, this time in the Pentagon. From December 2002 to August 2003 he was director of the Information Awareness Office of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Among the projects he was supervising at DARPA was Total Information Awareness (TIA)

He resigned from DARPA in response to the public outcry that followed the exposure given his Policy Analysis Market Project, a terrorism futures market which was to have been launched in October 2003. It would have enabled anonymous traders to bet on the probability of terrorist attacks, assassinations of heads of state, and future political developments in the Middle East.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.