Sam Lane is the father of Lois Lane and Lucy Lane and husband of Ella Lane.
He was made Secretary of Defense when Lex Luthor became President. This led to some conflict between Lois and her father. She was trying to prove that Lex was wicked, especially during the build up to the Imperiex War. While the war was going on, Sam was apparently killed by an Imperiex probe.
In Action Comics #832 (December 2005) Sam Lane's ghost appeared to Lois while she was trapped in a car. They began to talk through their unsetttled problems. The last scene of the issue showed the "ghost" leaning against a wall and watching the sunrise. This implies that General Lane might still be alive.
In Superman: New Krypton, General Sam Lane is, in fact, alive and well. He has 'drafted' Lex Luthor in what he believes will be a battle against a Kryptonian invasion (now that the city of Kandor was been liberated from Brainiac). He has also re-invented Metallo as one of his agents, recruited Reactron, and developed an anti-Kryptonian team called The Human Defense Corps.
Using Reactron as a living bomb, Lane destroys the entire planet of New Krypton effectively commits genocide against the Kryptonian race, leaving only the Kryptonian military already on its flight towards Earth.
Near the end of the 100 Minute War, after having his team defeated and being captured by Supergirl, Lane decides to take his own life rather than face the world for the crimes that he committed. He was deemed a hero by the media for protecting humanity against the Kryptonian invasion but his daughter, Lois Lane, promised to reveal General Lane's wrong deeds.
General Sam Lane is working for the military and was working with civilian Lex Luthor to capture the newly named Superman.
In other media:
Smallville: Michael Ironside plays the role of Sam Lane