William Luti

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William Luti was a close adviser of Douglas Feith, eventually rising to Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. In 2005, he became Director of Defense Policy for the National Security Council, working for Stephen Hadley.

Retired from the Navy, he had "a PhD in international relations and an irreverent attitude. He could quote extensively from Monty Python movies, and his taste for sarcastic humor" appealed to Donald Rumsfeld. On a more serious note, Luti observed that civilians often used the word "war" as a metaphor for fighting drugs or poverty. He believed President George W. Bush meant it much differently in a war on terror. "Short of invasion, Luti asked, what role should the U.S. military be expected to play in this war?"[1]


He has a doctorate in international relations and a master’s degree from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He also holds a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College and a bachelor’s degree in history from The Citadel.[2]

Naval service

His staff assignments included Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Executive Panel and the CNO Strategic Studies Group. He commanded an aviation squadron, an amphibious assault ship and an amphibious ready group. He is also a veteran of Operation DESERT STORM operations.

"In the early 1990s, while deputy director of the chief of naval operations' executive panel, a civilian advisory group, Luti became interested in the views of one member, strategy guru Albert Wohlstetter. A mentor to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, Defense Policy Board member Richard N. Perle, and several other prominent conservative defense thinkers, Wohlstetter became Luti's entree into their world. From there, while still in the Navy, Luti became a congressional fellow in the office of then-Speaker Gingrich. His time there, in part spent working on legislation related to arming and training Bosnian Muslims, again brought him into contact with interventionist conservatives.” [3]

George W. Bush Administration

In his role as deputy undersecretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, he supervised Abram Shulsky in the Office of Special Plans. When Feith resigned, he moved to the White House, becoming special assistant to the president for defense policy and strategy on the National Security Council staff. At the NSC, he reported to Stephen Hadley. [4]

He lectured on the preemption doctrine in 2002.[5] The new doctrine rested on three pillars, and "Now built into this first pillar, defending the peace, is the not-so-new doctrine of anticipatory self-defense. (i.e., preventive war, not preemptive attack) was implicit in the first:"

  1. "defend the peace by opposing and preventing violence by terrorist and outlaw regimes
  2. "preserve the peace by fostering an era of good relations among the world’s great powers
  3. extend the peace by seeking to extend the benefits of freedom and prosperity across the globe.

According to Seymour Hersh, "Luti was an early advocate of military action against Iraq, and, as the Administration moved toward war and policymaking power shifted toward the civilians in the Pentagon, he took on increasingly important responsibilities."[6]

George Packer described him as a man of "occasionally manic temperament," who once, in office conversation, described GEN (ret.) Anthony Zinni, USMC, as a "traitor" for opposing war in Iraq. According to Packer, Luti was very much a supporter of military solutions against Iraq. [7]

After the Bush Administration

He now works for Northrop Grumman as a vice president; the corporation states he “is responsible for leading the development of the [Information Systems] sector’s long-range strategic plan and annual operating plan working closely with the divisions, government relations and business development groups. He also represents the IS sector on the Northrop Grumman Corporation Strategic Development Council.”[2]


  1. Douglas J. Feith (2008), War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism, Harper, ISBN 9780060899738, pp. 6-7
  2. 2.0 2.1 William J. Luti, Vice President, Strategy, Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Northrop Grumman
  3. Thomas E. Ricks (October 22, 2003), "Iraq War Planner Downplays Role", Washington Post
  4. "Inside the Ring: Luti moves", Washington Times, July 14, 2005
  5. William Luti (October 2002), An Emerging Bush Doctrine: Preemption to the Forefront, The 33rd IFPA-Fletcher Conference on National Security Strategy and Policy (16-17 October, 2002). The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C.
  6. Seymour Hersh (May 12, 2003), "Annals of National Security, Selective Intelligence: Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable?", New Yorker
  7. George Packer (2006), The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0374530556, p. 105