The Iraq Study Group
About the Author
James A. Baker, III — Co-Chair
James A. Baker, III has served in senior government positions under three United States presidents. He served as the nation’s 61st Secretary of State from January 1989 through August 1992 under President George H. W. Bush. During his tenure at the State Department, Mr. Baker traveled to 90 foreign countries as the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post–Cold War era. Mr. Baker’s reflections on those years of revolution, war, and peace—The Politics of Diplomacy—was published in 1995.
Mr. Baker served as the 67th Secretary of the Treasury from 1985 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. As Treasury Secretary, he was also Chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Council. From 1981 to 1985, he served as White House Chief of Staff to President Reagan. Mr. Baker’s record of public service began in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford. It concluded with his service as White House Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to President Bush from August 1992 to January 1993.
Long active in American presidential politics, Mr. Baker led presidential campaigns for Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush over the course of five consecutive presidential elections from 1976 to 1992.
A native Houstonian, Mr. Baker graduated from Princeton University in 1952. After two years of active duty as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, he entered the University of Texas School of Law at Austin. He received his J.D. with honors in 1957 and practiced law with the Houston firm of Andrews and Kurth from 1957 to 1975.
Mr. Baker’s memoir—Work Hard, Study . . . and Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life—was published in October 2006.
Mr. Baker received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 and has been the recipient of many other awards for distinguished public service, including Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award, the American Institute for Public Service’s Jefferson Award, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government Award, the Hans J. Morgenthau Award, the George F. Kennan Award, the Department of the Treasury’s Alexander Hamilton Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Service Award, and numerous honorary academic degrees.
Mr. Baker is presently a senior partner in the law firm of Baker Botts. He is Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and serves on the board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 1997 to 2004, Mr. Baker served as the Personal Envoy of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to seek a political solution to the conflict over Western Sahara. In 2003, Mr. Baker was appointed Special Presidential Envoy for President George W. Bush on the issue of Iraqi debt. In 2005, he was co-chair, with former President Jimmy Carter, of the Commission on Federal Election Reform. Since March 2006, Mr. Baker and former U.S. Congressman Lee H. Hamilton have served as the co-chairs of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan blue-ribbon panel on Iraq.
Mr. Baker was born in Houston, Texas, in 1930. He and his wife, the former Susan Garrett, currently reside in Houston, and have eight children and seventeen grandchildren.
Lee H. Hamilton — Co-Chair
Lee H. Hamilton became Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in January 1999. Previously, Mr. Hamilton served for thirty-four years as a United States Congressman from Indiana. During his tenure, he served as Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (now the Committee on International Relations) and chaired the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East from the early 1970s until 1993. He was Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran.
Also a leading figure on economic policy and congressional organization, he served as Chair of the Joint Economic Committee as well as the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress, and was a member of the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee. In his home state of Indiana, Mr. Hamilton worked hard to improve education, job training, and infrastructure. Currently, Mr. Hamilton serves as Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, which seeks to educate citizens on the importance of Congress and on how Congress operates within our government.
Mr. Hamilton remains an important and active voice on matters of international relations and American national security. He served as a Commissioner on the United States Commission on National Security in the 21st Century (better known as the Hart-Rudman Commission), was Co-Chair with former Senator Howard Baker of the Baker-Hamilton Commission to Investigate Certain Security Issues at Los Alamos, and was Vice-Chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), which issued its report in July 2004. He is currently a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, as well as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Advisory Board.
Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, Mr. Hamilton relocated with his family to Tennessee and then to Evansville, Indiana. Mr. Hamilton is a graduate of DePauw University and the Indiana University School of Law, and studied for a year at Goethe University in Germany. Before his election to Congress, he practiced law in Chicago and in Columbus, Indiana. A former high school and college basketball star, he has been inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Mr. Hamilton’s distinguished service in government has been honored through numerous awards in public service and human rights as well as honorary degrees. He is the author of A Creative Tension—The Foreign Policy Roles of the President and Congress (2002) and How Congress Works and Why You Should Care (2004), and the coauthor of Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (2006).
Lee and his wife, the former Nancy Ann Nelson, have three children—Tracy Lynn Souza, Deborah Hamilton Kremer, and Douglas Nelson Hamilton—and five grandchildren: Christina, Maria, McLouis and Patricia Souza and Lina Ying Kremer.
Lawrence S. Eagleburger — Member
Lawrence S. Eagleburger was sworn in as the 62nd U.S. Secretary of State by President George H. W. Bush on December 8, 1992, and as Deputy Secretary of State on March 20, 1989.
After his entry into the Foreign Service in 1957, Mr. Eagleburger served in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, in the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, and the U.S. Mission to NATO in Belgium. In 1963, after a severe earthquake in Macedonia, he led the U.S. government effort to provide medical and other assistance. He was then assigned to Washington, D.C., where he served on the Secretariat staff and as special assistant to Dean Acheson, advisor to the President on Franco-NATO issues. In August 1966, he became acting director of the Secretariat staff.
In October 1966, Mr. Eagleburger joined the National Security Council staff. In October 1967, he was assigned as special assistant to Under Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach. In November 1968, he was appointed Dr. Henry Kissinger’s assistant, and in January 1969, he became executive assistant to Dr. Kissinger at the White House. In September 1969, he was assigned as political advisor and chief of the political section of the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels.
Mr. Eagleburger became Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in August 1971. Two years later, he became Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. The same year he returned to the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Operations. He subsequently followed Dr. Kissinger to the State Department, becoming Executive Assistant to the Secretary of State. In 1975, he was made Deputy Under Secretary of State for Management.
In June 1977, Mr. Eagleburger was appointed Ambassador to Yugoslavia, and in 1981 he was nominated as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. In February 1982, he was appointed Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Mr. Eagleburger has received numerous awards, including an honorary knighthood from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (1994); the Distinguished Service Award (1992), the Wilbur J. Carr Award (1984), and the Distinguished Honor Award (1984) from the Department of State; the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal from the Department of Defense (1978); and the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service (1976).
After retiring from the Department of State in May 1984, Mr. Eagleburger was named president of Kissinger Associates, Inc. Following his resignation as Secretary of State on January 19, 1993, he joined the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor. He joined the boards of Halliburton Company, Phillips Petroleum Company, and Universal Corporation. Mr. Eagleburger currently serves as Chairman of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims.
He received his B.S. degree in 1952 and his M.S. degree in 1957, both from the University of Wisconsin, and served as first lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954. Mr. Eagleburger is married to the former Marlene Ann Heinemann. He is the father of three sons, Lawrence Scott, Lawrence Andrew, and Lawrence Jason.
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. — Member
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., is a Senior Managing Director of Lazard Freres & Co. llc in New York. He works with a diverse group of clients across a broad range of industries.
Prior to joining Lazard, Mr. Jordan was a Senior Executive Partner with the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, where he remains Senior Counsel. While there Mr. Jordan practiced general, corporate, legislative, and international law in Washington, D.C.
Before Akin Gump, Mr. Jordan held the following positions: President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League, Inc.; Executive Director of the United Negro College Fund, Inc.; Director of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council; Attorney-Consultant, U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity; Assistant to the Executive Director of the Southern Regional Council; Georgia Field Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and an attorney in private practice in Arkansas and Georgia.
Mr. Jordan’s presidential appointments include the President’s Advisory Committee for the Points of Light Initiative Foundation, the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on South Africa, the Advisory Council on Social Security, the Presidential Clemency Board, the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, the National Advisory Committee on Selective Service, and the Council of the White House Conference “To Fulfill These Rights.” In 1992, Mr. Jordan served as the Chairman of the Clinton Presidential Transition Team.
Mr. Jordan’s corporate and other directorships include American Express Company; Asbury Automotive Group, Inc.; Howard University (Trustee); J. C. Penney Company, Inc.; Lazard Ltd.; Xerox Corporation; and the International Advisory Board of Barrick Gold.
Mr. Jordan is a graduate of DePauw University and the Howard University Law School. He holds honorary degrees from more than 60 colleges and universities in America. He is a member of the bars of Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Georgia, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Bilderberg Meetings and he is President of the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. Mr. Jordan is the author of Vernon Can Read! A Memoir (Public Affairs, 2001).
Edwin Meese III — Member
Edwin Meese III holds the Ronald Reagan Chair in Public Policy at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.—based public policy research and education institution. He is also the Chairman of Heritage’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In addition, Meese lectures, writes, and consults throughout the United States on a variety of subjects.
Meese is the author of With Reagan: The Inside Story, which was published by Regnery Gateway in June 1992; co-editor of Making America Safer, published in 1997 by the Heritage Foundation; and coauthor of Leadership, Ethics and Policing, published by Prentice Hall in 2004.
Meese served as the 75th Attorney General of the United States from February 1985 to August 1988. As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, he directed the Department of Justice and led international efforts to combat terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime. In 1985 he received Government Executive magazine’s annual award for excellence in management.
From January 1981 to February 1985, Meese held the position of Counsellor to the President, the senior position on the White House staff, where he functioned as the President’s chief policy advisor. As Attorney General and as Counsellor, Meese was a member of the President’s cabinet and the National Security Council. He served as Chairman of the Domestic Policy Council and of the National Drug Policy Board. Meese headed the President-elect’s transition effort following the November 1980 election. During the presidential campaign, he served as chief of staff and senior issues advisor for the Reagan-Bush Committee.
Formerly, Meese served as Governor Reagan’s executive assistant and chief of staff in California from 1969 through 1974 and as legal affairs secretary from 1967 through 1968. Before joining Governor Reagan’s staff in 1967, Meese served as deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California. From 1977 to 1981, Meese was a professor of law at the University of San Diego, where he also was Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Policy and Management.
In addition to his background as a lawyer, educator, and public official, Meese has been a business executive in the aerospace and transportation industry, serving as vice president for administration of Rohr Industries, Inc., in Chula Vista, California. He left Rohr to return to the practice of law, engaging in corporate and general legal work in San Diego County.
Meese is a graduate of Yale University, Class of 1953, and holds a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a retired colonel in the United States Army Reserve. He is active in numerous civic and educational organizations. Meese is married, has two grown children, and resides in McLean, Virginia.
Sandra Day O’Connor — Member
Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated by President Reagan as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on July 7, 1981, and took the oath of office on September 25. O’Connor previously served on the Arizona Court of Appeals (1979–81) and as judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona (1975–79). She was appointed as Arizona state senator in 1969 and was subsequently elected to two two-year terms from 1969 to 1975. During her tenure, she was Arizona Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the State, County, and Municipal Affairs Committee, and she served on the Legislative Council, on the Probate Code Commission, and on the Arizona Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations.
From 1965 to 1969, O’Connor was assistant attorney general in Arizona. She practiced law at a private firm in Maryvale, Arizona, from 1958 to 1960 and prior to that was civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center in Frankfurt, Germany (1954–57), and deputy county attorney in San Mateo County, California (1952–53).
She was previously Chairman of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee to Reorganize Lower Courts (1974–75), Vice Chairman of the Arizona Select Law Enforcement Review Commission (1979–80), and, in Maricopa County, Chairman of the Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (1960–62), the Juvenile Detention Home Visiting Board (1963–64), and the Superior Court Judges’ Training and Education Committee (1977–79) and a member of the Board of Adjustments and Appeals (1963–64).
O’Connor currently serves as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary and on the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Executive Board of the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Advisory Committee of the American Society of International Law, Judicial. She is an honorary member of the Advisory Committee for the Judiciary Leadership Development Council, an honorary chair of America’s 400th Anniversary: Jamestown 2007, a co-chair of the National Advisory Council of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, a member of the Selection Committee of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Stanford Center on Ethics. She also serves on several bodies of the American Bar Association, including the Museum of Law Executive Committee, the Commission on Civic Education and Separation of Powers, and the Advisory Commission of the Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.
O’Connor previously served as a member of the Anglo-American Exchange (1980); the State Bar of Arizona Committees on Legal Aid, Public Relations, Lower Court Reorganization, and Continuing Legal Education; the National Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (1974–76); the Arizona State Personnel Commission (1968–69); the Arizona Criminal Code Commission (1974–76); and the Cathedral Chapter of the Washington National Cathedral (1991–99).
O’Connor is a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Arizona, the State Bar of California, the Maricopa County Bar Association, the Arizona Judges’ Association, the National Association of Women Judges, and the Arizona Women Lawyers’ Association. She holds a B.A. (with Great Distinction) and an LL.B. (Order of the Coif) from Stanford University, where she was also a member of the board of editors of the Stanford Law Review.
Leon E. Panetta — Member
Leon E. Panetta currently co-directs the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, a nonpartisan study center for the advancement of public policy based at California State University, Monterey Bay. He serves as distinguished scholar to the chancellor of the California State University system, teaches a Master’s in Public Policy course at the Panetta Institute, is a presidential professor at Santa Clara University, and created the Leon Panetta Lecture Series.
Panetta first went to Washington in 1966, when he served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Senator Thomas H. Kuchel of California. In 1969, he became Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and then Director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. His book Bring Us Together (published in 1971) is an account of that experience. In 1970, he went to New York City, where he served as Executive Assistant to Mayor John Lindsay. Then, in 1971, Panetta returned to California, where he practiced law in the Monterey firm of Panetta, Thompson & Panetta until he was elected to Congress in 1976.
Panetta was a U.S. Representative from California’s 16th (now 17th) district from 1977 to 1993. He authored the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988, the Fair Employment Practices Resolution, legislation that established Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for hospice care for the terminally ill, and other legislation on a variety of education, health, agriculture, and defense issues.
From 1989 to 1993, Panetta was Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget. He also served on that committee from 1979 to 1985. He chaired the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing, Consumer Relations and Nutrition; the House Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Personnel and Police; and the Select Committee on Hunger’s Task Force on Domestic Hunger. He also served as Vice Chairman of the Caucus of Vietnam Era Veterans in Congress and as a member of the President’s Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies.
Panetta left Congress in 1993 to become Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the incoming Clinton administration. Panetta was appointed Chief of Staff to the President of the United States on July 17, 1994, and served in that position until January 20, 1997.
In addition, Panetta served a six-year term on the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange beginning in 1997. He currently serves on many public policy and organizational boards, including as Chair of the Pew Oceans Commission and Co-Chair of the California Council on Base Support and Retention.
Panetta has received many awards and honors, including the Smithsonian Paul Peck Award for Service to the Presidency, the John H. Chafee Coastal Stewardship Award, the Julius A. Stratton Award for Coastal Leadership, and the Distinguished Public Service Medal from the Center for the Study of the Presidency.
He earned a B.A. magna cum laude from Santa Clara University in 1960, and in 1963 received his J.D. from Santa Clara University Law School, where he was an editor of the Santa Clara Law Review. He served as a first lieutenant in the Army from 1964 to 1966 and received the Army Commendation Medal. Panetta is married to the former Sylvia Marie Varni. They have three grown sons and five grandchildren.
William J. Perry — Member
William Perry is the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor at Stanford University, with a joint appointment at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the School of Engineering. He is a senior fellow at FSI and serves as co-director of the Preventive Defense Project, a research collaboration of Stanford and Harvard universities.
Perry was the 19th Secretary of Defense of the United States, serving from February 1994 to January 1997. He previously served as Deputy Secretary of Defense (1993–94) and as Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (1977–81). He is on the board of directors of several emerging high-tech companies and is Chairman of Global Technology Partners.
His previous business experience includes serving as a laboratory director for General Telephone and Electronics (1954–64) and as founder and president of ESL Inc. (1964–77), executive vice president of Hambrecht & Quist Inc. (1981–85), and founder and chairman of Technology Strategies & Alliances (1985–93). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
From 1946 to 1947, Perry was an enlisted man in the Army Corps of Engineers, and served in the Army of Occupation in Japan. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1948 and was a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves from 1950 to 1955. He has received a number of awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1997), the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1980 and 1981), and Outstanding Civilian Service Medals from the Army (1962 and 1997), the Air Force (1997), the Navy (1997), the Defense Intelligence Agency (1977 and 1997), NASA (1981), and the Coast Guard (1997). He received the American Electronic Association’s Medal of Achievement (1980), the Eisenhower Award (1996), the Marshall Award (1997), the Forrestal Medal (1994), and the Henry Stimson Medal (1994). The National Academy of Engineering selected him for the Arthur Bueche Medal in 1996. He has received awards from the enlisted personnel of the Army, Navy, and the Air Force.
He has received decorations from the governments of Albania, Bahrain, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Poland, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. He received a B.S. and M.S. from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from Penn State, all in mathematics.
Charles S. Robb — Member
Charles S. Robb joined the faculty of George Mason University as a Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy in 2001. Previously he served as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, from 1978 to 1982; as Virginia’s 64th Governor, from 1982 to 1986; and as a United States Senator, from 1989 to 2001.
While in the Senate he became the only member ever to serve simultaneously on all three national security committees (Intelligence, Armed Services, and Foreign Relations). He also served on the Finance, Commerce, and Budget committees.
Before becoming a member of Congress he chaired the Southern Governors’ Association, the Democratic Governors’ Association, the Education Commission of the States, the Democratic Leadership Council, Jobs for America’s Graduates, the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, and the Virginia Forum on Education, and was President of the Council of State Governments.
During the 1960s he served on active duty with the United States Marine Corps, retiring from the Marine Corps Reserve in 1991. He began as the Class Honor Graduate from Marine Officers Basic School in 1961 and ended up as head of the principal recruiting program for Marine officers in 1970. In between, he served in both the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions and his assignments included duty as a Military Social Aide at the White House and command of an infantry company in combat in Vietnam.
He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1973, clerked for Judge John D. Butzner, Jr., on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and practiced law with Williams and Connolly prior to his election to state office. Between his state and federal service he was a partner at Hunton and Williams.
Since leaving the Senate in 2001 he has served as Chairman of the Board of Visitors at the United States Naval Academy, Co-Chairman (with Senior Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit) of the President’s Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Co-Chairman (with former Governor Linwood Holton) of a major landowner’s alliance that created a special tax district to finance the extension of Metrorail to Tyson’s Corner, Reston, and Dulles Airport. He has also been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard and at the Marshall Wythe School of Law at William and Mary.
He is currently on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board (Chairman of the WMD-Terrorism Task Force), the FBI Director’s Advisory Board, the National Intelligence Council’s Strategic Analysis Advisory Board, the Iraq Study Group, and the MITRE Corp. Board of Trustees (Vice Chairman). He also serves on the boards of the Space Foundation, the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, the Concord Coalition, the National Museum of Americans at War, Strategic Partnerships LLC, and the Center for the Study of the Presidency–and he works on occasional projects with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is married to Lynda Johnson Robb and they have three grown daughters and one granddaughter.
Alan K. Simpson — Member
Alan K. Simpson served from 1979 to 1997 as a United States Senator from Wyoming. Following his first term in the Senate, Al was elected by his peers to the position of the Assistant Majority Leader in 1984—and served in that capacity until 1994. He completed his final term on January 3, 1997.
Simpson is currently a partner in the Cody firm of Simpson, Kepler and Edwards, the Cody division of the Denver firm of Burg Simpson Eldredge, Hersh and Jardine, and also a consultant in the Washington, D.C., government relations firm The Tongour, Simpson, Holsclaw Group. He continues to serve on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards and travels the country giving speeches. His book published by William Morrow Company, Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press (1997), chronicles his personal experiences and views of the Fourth Estate.
From January of 1997 until June of 2000, Simpson was a Visiting Lecturer and for two years the Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. During the fall of 2000 he returned to his alma mater, the University of Wyoming, as a Visiting Lecturer in the Political Science Department and he continues to team teach a class part-time with his brother, Peter, titled “Wyoming’s Political Identity: Its History and Its Politics,” which is proving to be one of the most popular classes offered at UW.
A member of a political family—his father served both as Governor of Wyoming from 1954 to 1958 and as United States Senator from Wyoming from 1962 to 1966—Al chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and began his own political career in 1964 when he was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature as a state representative of his native Park County. He served for the next thirteen years in the Wyoming House of Representatives, holding the offices of Majority Whip, Majority Floor Leader, and Speaker Pro-Tem. His only brother, Peter, also served as a member of the Wyoming State Legislature.
Prior to entering politics, Simpson was admitted to the Wyoming bar and the United States District Court in 1958 and served for a short time as a Wyoming assistant attorney general. Simpson then joined his father, Milward L. Simpson, and later Charles G. Kepler in the law firm of Simpson, Kepler and Simpson in his hometown of Cody. He would practice law there for the next eighteen years. During that time, Simpson was very active in all civic, community, and state activities. He also served ten years as City Attorney.
Simpson earned a B.S. in law from the University of Wyoming in 1954. Upon graduation from college, he joined the Army, serving overseas in the 5th Infantry Division and in the 2nd Armored Division in the final months of the Army of Occupation in Germany. Following his honorable discharge in 1956, Simpson returned to the University of Wyoming to complete his study of law, earning his J.D. degree in 1958. He and his wife Ann have three children and six grandchildren, who all reside in Cody, Wyoming.