Former senator Richard Lugar, a Republican who worked to alert Americans about the threat of terrorism years before 9/11, died Sunday at age 87 at a hospital in Virginia. He was being treated for a rare neurological disorder called chronic inflammatory demylinating polyneuropathy, the AP reports. Indiana's longest-serving senator helped start a program that destroyed thousands of former Soviet nuclear and chemical weapons after the Cold War ended—then warned during a short-lived 1996 run for president about the danger of such devices falling into the hands of terrorists. "Every stockpile represents a theft opportunity for terrorists and a temptation for security personnel who might seek to profit by selling weapons on the black market," Lugar said in 2005. "We do not want the question posed the day after an attack on an American military base."
The soft-spoken and thoughtful former Rhodes Scholar was a leading Republican voice on foreign policy matters during his 36 years in the Senate, but whose reputation of working with Democrats ultimately cost him the office in 2012. He served for decades on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, twice as chairman, where he helped steer arms reduction pacts for the presidential administrations of George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, supported an expansion of NATO and favored aid to Nicaragua's Contra rebels. Gov. Eric Holcomb directed flags across the state to be flown at half-staff to honor Lugar until his funeral, which had not yet been announced. He called Lugar "an always faithful servant to the highest ideals in every walk of his incredible life."
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