CAPT William B. Bader, USNR-Ret

15 March 2016. CAPT William B. Bader, USNR-Ret, at Sykesville, MD. He had Alzheimer’s disease. He was born Sept. 8, 1931, in Atlantic City, where his grandfather had been mayor in the 1920s.

After Dr. Bader’s father was killed in an automobile accident in 1934, the family moved to Los Angeles. Dr. Bader graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., in 1953. He then studied in Europe on a Fulbright fellowship, an international academic program sponsored by the senator for whom he would later work.

He served in the Navy from 1955 to 1958, then left active duty to pursue a doctorate in history from Princeton University, which was conferred in 1964. He then worked for the CIA and the State Department while retaining his naval reserve commission. 

Dr. Bader held high-ranking foreign-policy positions with several federal agencies and as a Senate staff member, helped investigate CIA abuses and events surrounding the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. 

According to the obituary in the Washington Post: "While working for Sen. J. William Fulbright (D-Ark.) in the late 1960s, Dr. Bader was among the first people to cast doubt on the official reasons given by the Defense Department and the White House for escalating U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.

On Aug. 4, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television to announce that the U.S. military was taking action against “repeated acts of violence” by North Vietnamese forces. According to the Defense Department, Navy ships had come under fire on two occasions in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of Vietnam.

The first attack, on Aug. 2, was on the destroyer USS Maddox. Two days later, defense officials said the Maddox and a second destroyer, the USS Turner Joy, had come under automatic weapons fire and torpedo attacks. The Maddox fired hundreds of shells during the nighttime incident, and U.S. jets were dispatched from a nearby aircraft carrier."

Johnson used the episodes as justification for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which was passed by Congress on Aug. 7, 1964. The resolution authorized the president to “take all necessary measures” to protect U.S. interests and led to a decade-long military engagement in Vietnam that claimed about 58,000 American lives. The matter remains controversial.

He published a book, “Austria Between East and West,” in 1966.

In the mid-1970s, Dr. Bader was on the staff of a Senate investigative committee led by Frank Church (D-Idaho). In that role, Dr. Bader helped expose a variety of covert activities by the CIA, including attempts to topple governments and assassinate foreign leaders.

Dr. Bader later worked at the Defense Department before returning to the Senate as chief of staff of the Foreign Relations Committee from 1979 to 1981. He then spent 10 years with SRI International, a research firm and government contractor. He was president of the Eurasia Foundation in Washington from 1992 to 1995 and, over the years, lectured at many universities.

He was an assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs from 1999 to 2001.

Dr. Bader lived for many years in Alexandria, Va., and was a member of the Cosmos Club and Western Presbyterian Church in the District.

His wife of 60 years, sculptor Gretta Lange Bader, died in 2014. Survivors include four children, a brother and six grandchildren. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

 Editor’s note: Much of this account is contained in the copyrighted obituary by Matt Schudel, published on 19 March 2016 in The Washington Post.