William H. Webster was sworn in as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) on May 26, 1987. In this position he headed the Intelligence Community (all foreign intelligence agencies of the United States) and directed the Central Intelligence Agency until September 1, 1991.
In September 1991, he joined the law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in its Washington, D.C. office and still maintains an office there since retiring in 2006.
William H. Webster was born March 6, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri and received his early education in Webster Groves near St. Louis. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree from Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts in 1947 where, in 1975, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Judge Webster received his Juris Doctor degree from Washington University Law School, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1949. He served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy in World War II and again in the Korean War.
A practicing attorney with a St. Louis law firm from 1949 to 1959, Judge Webster served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri from 1960 to 1961. He returned to private practice in 1961. From 1964 to 1969, he was a member of the Missouri Board of Law Examiners.
In 1970, Judge Webster was appointed a Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and in 1973 was elevated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. He resigned on February 23, 1978 to become Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During his service on the bench, Judge Webster was Chairman of the Judiciary Conference Advisory Committee on the Criminal Rules and was a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Habeas Corpus and the Committee of Court Administration.
A member of the American Bar Association, the Council of the American Law Institute, the Order of the Coif, the Missouri Bar Integrated, and the Metropolitan St. Louis Bar Association, Judge Webster served as Chairman of the Corporation, Banking and Business Law Section of the American Bar Association, and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Judge Webster was the recipient of the 2002 ABA Medal — the highest honor the ABA can bestow. Judge Webster is an Honorary Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is the recipient of the 2001 Justice Award of the American Judicature Society.
Judge Webster was named Man of the Year 1980 by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and in May 1981 received the William Greenleaf Elliot Award from Washington University and the Riot Relief Fund Award in New York City. In October 1982, he was presented the Fordham Law School Louis Stein Award and in August 1983, the International Platform Association Theodore Roosevelt Award for excellence in public service. In June 1984, he received the Jefferson Award for the Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official. In May 1985, he was presented the Freedoms Foundation National Service Medal in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and the First Annual Patrick V. Murphy Award from the Police Foundation, Washington, D.C., for distinguished service in law enforcement. He was named Father of the Year for Public Service in May 1986 by the National Father’s Day Committee and received the 1986 Thomas Jefferson Award in Law from the University of Virginia. In June 1988, he received the Bracebridge Young Award from the American Society of Corporate Secretaries and in May 1989 he was presented the Federal City Club’s Distinguished Public Service Award. He received the Salees Seddon Criminal Justice Leadership Award in April 1990. On October 30, 1990, Judge Webster was presented the Boy Scouts of America Silver Buffalo Award.
On July 1, 1991 Judge Webster was presented the Distinguished Intelligence Medal and on July 25, 1991 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Security Medal. Judge Webster currently serves as Chairman of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
Judge Webster was elected to active membership in the National Academy of Public Administration in October 1981 and served as President of the Institute of Judicial Administration from May 1985 until September 1988. He is the recipient of the following awards: 2000 International Academy of Mediators Recognition of Excellence Award; The American Lawyer 2009 Lifetime Achiever Award; The American Arbitration Association 2009 Peacemaker Award; and the 2010 Business Executives for National Security Stanley A. Weiss National Security Award. Judge Webster currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution.
In 1972, Judge Webster received a Washington University Alumni Citation for contributions to the field of law and, in 1977, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington University Law School. A former member of the University of Colorado Law School Board of Visitors and the National Advisory Board of the American University, Judge Webster holds honorary degrees from Amherst College, DePauw University, William Woods College, Drury College, Washington University, Columbia College, University of Dayton School of Law, University of Notre Dame, Centre College, Dickinson School of Law, University of Miami, DePaul University, the American University, The John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Westminster College, Georgetown University, Rockhurst College and Pepperdine University.
Judge Webster was married to the late Drusilla Lane Webster. He is the father of three children: Drusilla L. Busch, William H., Jr., and Katherine H. Roessle, and has seven grandchildren. On October 20, 1990 Judge Webster married Lynda Clugston.