Retired Gen. Wayne Downing Dies at 67

July 19, 2007
Downing served as former Bush counterterror adviser after Sept. 11

PEORIA, Ill._Retired Gen. Wayne Downing, one of President Bush's key counterterrorism advisers after the Sept. 11 attacks, died Wednesday, a coroner said. He was 67.

The four-star general was admitted to the hospital Monday, suffering from bacterial meningitis and multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll said.

The West Point graduate retired in 1996 after 34 years in the military, ending his career as head of all U.S. special operations forces. He commanded more than 47,000 soldiers, including the Army's Green Berets and Navy's SEALs.

He was pulled from retirement after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001 and appointed by President Bush as national director and deputy national security adviser for combatting terrorism.

He had also been tapped in his retirement to lead a 40-person presidential task force that investigated a 1996 attack that killed 19 Americans at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, making recommendations on how to better protect Americans abroad.

Downing "served this country well for many years in the military and at the White House, and even after government service continued to provide important advice and counsel," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Downing commanded a joint task force of 1,200 U.S. special forces that halted Iraq's SCUD missile attacks on Israel and eased overall missile threats in the war zone.

Downing, a military analyst for MSNBC, received the U.S. Military Academy's distinguished graduate award in 2006.

"His reputation was that of a smart, decisive, forceful and caring leader, known in particular for his unwavering determination to accomplish any mission assigned and provide his soldiers the best possible support," the academy wrote in bestowing the honor.