Saturday, June 18, 2011

Head of National Counterterrorism Center Resigns

Michael Leiter will step down in July as head of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) after nearly four years in the position. He will leave the post after the White House releases its national counterterrorism strategy, which Leiter was instrumental in writing.

Leiter is well-known in the intelligence community and by members of Congress. In a statement, President Barack Obama said, "Mike led the National Counterterrorism Center with dedication and unwavering determination during challenging and demanding times, and our nation is grateful for his many contributions to our safety and security."

Obama also called Leiter a "trusted adviser to me and to the entire national security team, providing us with an in-depth understanding of terrorist activities that affect our nation's security."

Leiter was named to the position by former President George W. Bush in 2007. By statue, the NCTC director reports directly to the president and is responsible for creating detailed counterterrorism plans. Leiter has managed a staff of 500 analysts, many detailed to the country's 16 intelligence agencies. The analysts collect and distribute information on threats in America and abroad. Leiter has served as a key conduit to Congress, while advocating for expanded surveillance and investigative authorities.

Leiter is a Navy veteran and a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He was a clerk at the Supreme Court for Justice Stephen Breyer. After clerking, Leiter was a lawyer for the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague, where he worked on cases involving Bosnian war criminals. He also worked on the Robb-Silberman Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction and in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
An NCTC official said that Leiter has not accepted another position and is resigning because he thought he had spent enough time as director.

A successor to Leiter has not been named; therefore, Deputy Director of NCTC Andrew Liepman will serve as acting director until Obama nominates a replacement.

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