CEO, Lexington InstituteHaving transitioned from Washington’s most plugged-in and quoted defense industry analyst to American national security’s most prolific commentator, Thompson’s views are read more widely than ever before. Leading defense contractors still pay him to give advice and to shape the public debate on systems, strategies and policies, but his independent streak has prompted some of his biggest sponsors to fire him. Yet Thompson’s unique franchise, breadth of experience and insights keep him in hot demand as adviser, columnist and media source. And as the former deputy director of Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program, Thompson has taught many of the men and women who are now leaders in uniform, industry, government or the Hill.
In the course of a few November days, three people plummeted from the top ranks of the powerful, falling down, and in one case off, the list.
Top editors had just finalized the top 10 for this project when retired Army Gen. David Petraeus abruptly resigned from his job as director of the CIA after admitting to an extramarital affair. The esteemed Petraeus, seen by many as destined for higher office and perhaps even the presidency, had been a fixture in the top 10 from the start.