State Department Lawyer Charles Maechling Jr., 87

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Charles Maechling Jr., 87, an international lawyer and State Department official in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, died of pneumonia June 23 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He had lived in Washington since 1951.

Mr. Maechling was a founding partner in 1956 of the law firm then known as Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Maechling. He left the firm in 1961 when he was appointed to a post in the State Department. Two years later, he became staff director of the Cabinet-level Special Group on Counterinsurgency.

Set up by President John F. Kennedy, its job was to coordinate military and economic aid to less-developed countries threatened with subversion and violence. According to a 1999 article Mr. Maechling wrote in the Virginia Quarterly Review, then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and then-Undersecretary of State Averill Harriman never missed a meeting. Mr. Maechling was also special assistant to Harriman at the time.

In 1966, Mr. Maechling joined the National Science Foundation as deputy general counsel and later was special assistant to the director. He left in 1974 to teach at the University of Virginia's law school for two years and later was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a visiting fellow at Cambridge University's Wolfson College and a guest scholar in international law at the Brookings Institution.

He was born in New York and graduated from Yale University. During World War II, he served in the Navy at sea and as an aide to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. After the war, he was an assistant naval attache in South America. He graduated in 1949 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was editor of the law review.

Mr. Maechling worked for the Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York and then returned to the Washington area in 1951 to work as an attorney in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. He was counsel to the Electronics Industries Association until 1956 and outside counsel to the CIA in the late 1950s.

He was a prolific writer of op-ed articles for numerous major U.S. newspapers and a longtime delegate to International Law of the Sea conferences. He advised the National Academy of Sciences and was its representative to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

He was a member of the American Society of International Law, the Yale Club and the Cosmos Club. He enjoyed studying languages.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Janet Leighton Maechling of Washington; two children, Philip Leighton Maechling of Missoula, Mont., and Eugenie Elisabeth Buchan of London; and three grandchildren.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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