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David E. McGiffert

David E. McGiffert

David E. McGiffert (1926–2005) was a United States lawyer and Pentagon official who dealt with domestic security during the social upheavals of the late 1960s.


David E. McGiffert was born in Boston on June 27, 1926. After high school, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, but left without taking a degree in 1944. He then enlisted in the United States Navy and served as a radio technician during World War II. Upon leaving the Navy in 1946, he attended Harvard University; he graduated with a B.A. in 1949. He spent the 1949-50 school year at Cambridge University and then attended Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B. in 1953.

After graduating from law school, McGiffert took a job as an associate attorney at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. He spent 1956 as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and then returned to Covington & Burling from 1957 to 1961.

In 1962, President of the United States John F. Kennedy named McGiffert Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, serving under United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He held this position until 1965, at which time President Lyndon B. Johnson named him United States Under Secretary of the Army.

He served as Under Secretary of the Army from November 1965 until February 1969. During his time as Under Secretary of the Army, protests against the Vietnam War broke out in force, and there were calls on the army to support desegregation and equal rights.

During the 1967 Newark riots (July 12–17, 1967) and the 1967 Detroit riot (July 23, 1967), ill-prepared Army National Guard troops were despatched to suppress the riots.

On October 21, 1967, some 35,000 anti-war protesters organized by the

At Secretary McNamara's direction, McGiffert then headed a civil disturbance steering committee to examine the domestic use of the United States Armed Forces. United States Deputy Attorney General Warren Christopher also served on this committee. In the tense atmosphere, further heightened by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968, this committee undertook detailed intelligence and tactical planning based on "worst case" domestic scenarios.

Regular Army troops were also used to provide security at the 1968 Republican National Convention (August 5–8, 1968) and the disastrous 1968 Democratic National Convention (August 26–29, 1968).

Upon leaving the United States Department of the Army

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