Jim Houseman is the Secretary of Defense under President George Sears during the events of Metal Gear Solid. He organized the mission to stop the FOXHOUND insurrection at Shadow Moses as a means to prevent the existence of the genome soldiers and Metal Gear REX from going public. To that end, he orders that Solid Snake be injected with the FOXDIE virus and sent to the facility. He hates disco. His end goal is to see REX and the genome soldiers secured and his friend, the DARPA chief Donald Anderson, rescued.
After Snake destroys REX, in effect putting Houseman's efforts to waste, Houseman responds by ordering that Shadow Moses be destroyed in a nuclear strike in order to hide the evidence. However, the strike is aborted after Colonel Campbell manages to get word to President Sears, who in turn orders that Houseman be placed under arrest. All blame for the Shadow Moses incident was subsequently placed on Houseman's shoulders. In between the events of Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2, he reportedly suffers a nervous breakdown and commits suicide via self-inflicted gunshot, but in truth he may have been assassinated for refusing to accept responsibility.