Ronald Reagan

In the category of “now it can be told” is the tale of President Ronald Reagan’s attack on me in 1988. I was at the time on special assignment from the National Security Agency (NSA) to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to work on the national intelligence budget. President Reagan submitted for funding a highly classified clandestine operation. Because the proposed venture violated U.S. law and treaties we held with other countries, I refused to fund it. Reagan was furious. He stripped me of my clearances and assigned me to an abandoned warehouse in the Anacostia slums with no work to do. His purpose was to get me to resign—if he fired me outright, I could sue since he had no legal cause.

But I refused to resign. Instead, I brought in a space heater (after the managers turned off the heat) and a typewriter and worked on my stories and novels.

Reagan’s term in office ended in January, 1989 when George H. W. Bush replaced him. The new administration immediately ended my banishment, restored my clearances, and returned me to my parent agency, the NSA. Once there, I resumed my career and, as reported in recent blog posts, went on to be promoted to the highest levels of the Senior Executive Service. Though nothing was ever said, I got the distinct impression that both the Bush administration and NSA were embarrassed by Reagan’s actions.

More next time.

6 thoughts on “Ronald Reagan”

  1. Tom, This is fascinating and appalling. Was it intel-related that you could not speak of it until now, and did the statute of limitation run out?


    1. Neither, Rose. I’ve told this story any number of times but never named which president did the deed, because the project involved was so highly classified. But over time, I’ve become disgusted with all the credit given Regan, who was, in my estimate, a mediocre president at best. He is the only president other than Donald Trump who saw himself as above the law. I’ll have more to say tomorrow.


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