CDI at POGO
In 1971, the Center for Defense Information was founded by a truly independent group of retired military officers to analyze military matters, inform decision-makers and the public, and influence policy. CDI became an alternative voice to what founders Admiral Gene LaRocque and Admiral Eugene Carroll believed was a Pentagon that was pushing self-serving data and analysis at decision-makers.
CDI took no money from defense contractors or the government, and they published fact-based research and policy advice that put basic national security needs front and center. What set the organization apart from typical DC think tanks was that it was led by conscientious military officers—retired generals, admirals, colonels, majors, captains—who were challenging ill-informed conventional wisdom and self-interested defense contractor disinformation rather than promoting it.
For over four decades, CDI has evolved, as all healthy organizations do. Although the original admirals and generals are no longer at the helm, their maverick spirit of loyal dissent lives on. Former CDI people are scattered throughout journalism and defense analysis. From challenging the need to exceed Cold War spending levels to challenging ill-advised military interventions to questioning unaffordable, under-performing weapon systems, CDI has been at the forefront of independent research on the central issues in defense policy. Previously, veteran Capitol Hill staffer and GAO assistant director Winslow Wheeler directed CDI’s Straus Military Reform Project, conducting research and providing analysis that speaks, even if occasionally disrespectfully, truth to power.
In May 2012, the Project On Government Oversight was proud to welcome Winslow and the CDI legacy into our family. Today, Mandy Smithberger leads CDI as its current director.
CDI and POGO have always shared a passion for exposing hypocrisy and challenging nonsense in the Pentagon, White House, and Congress. Now we will be doing it together, and we couldn’t be more pleased! Look for CDI’s work on a new section of POGO.org in the near future as we continue that important legacy.