Freedom House Welcomes William H. Taft IV as New Chairman
Freedom House is pleased to announce the appointment of William H. Taft IV as chairman of the organization's board of trustees. Taft, an attorney with a distinguished career in several U.S. administrations, replaces Peter Ackerman who has served as chairman since 2005.
"William Taft is a person of keen legal insight and tremendous personal integrity," said Anthony Lake, Freedom House board member. "He follows his conscience, even when his views may be unpopular. This, with his capacity for leadership, will serve Freedom House well as it advances its mission to expand freedom in the world."
Taft is the Warren Christopher Visiting Professor of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy at Stanford Law School and a retired partner in the Washington office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. President George W. Bush appointed Taft to serve as chief legal advisor to the State Department under Secretary Colin Powell. In this position, Taft became known for his opposition to the Justice Department’s position on interrogations arguing that interrogation techniques for all military detainees should be consistent with the Geneva Conventions.
Previously, Taft served briefly as attorney adviser to the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, was the principal assistant to Caspar Weinberger then director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Richard Nixon, executive assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and was appointed by President Gerald Ford to serve as the department’s general counsel.
President Ronald Reagan appointed Taft as general counsel of the Department of Defense and he was later appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense. He briefly served as acting Secretary of Defense after George H. W. Bush became president. Taft served as U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO during the years after the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ended.
"The appointment of William Taft as Freedom House chairman comes at a critical juncture in the struggle for freedom," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director. "2009 is poised to be a momentous year as we mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. As we reflect on the state of freedom today and the challenges that remain, Freedom House is honored to have a man of Mr. Taft's extraordinary character and experience leading our charge forward."
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