Friday, July 8, 2011

Obama Nominates Olsen as New Head for Counterterrorism Center

  Obama Nominates Olsen as New Head for Counterterrorism Center

On July 1, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Matthew Olsen as director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). The current director of NCTC, Michael E. Leiter, plans to step down this week. Leiter has served in the director's job under Obama and former President George W. Bush. "I am pleased to nominate Matthew Olsen to be the next Director of the National Counterterrorism Center," said Obama in a statement. "Matt has a distinguished record of service in our intelligence community and I'm confident he will continue to build on our strong counterterrorism efforts. Matt will be a critical part of my national security team as we work tirelessly to thwart attacks against our nation and do everything in our power to protect the American people."

Olsen is currently the general counsel for the National Security Agency and principal legal adviser to the NSA director.
Prior to joining NSA a year ago, Olsen was a longtime Department of Justice (DOJ) official. During his 18 year career at DOJ, he served as an associate deputy attorney general, special counselor to the attorney general, a deputy assistant attorney general in the National Security Division and as the acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
While at DOJ, Olsen also served as Executive Director of the Guantanamo Bay Review Task Force. During this time, he managed the interagency process mandated by the President's executive order that called for a comprehensive review of all individuals currently detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

From 1994 to 2006, Olsen was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. He also served as special counsel to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2004 to 2005.

Olsen is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Harvard Law School. He is also an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University.

If confirmed, Olsen will play an essential role in the new Counterterrorism framework announced this week by John Brennan, senior advisor to President Obama on terrorism. The newest strategy focuses on Al Qaeda's ability to inspire people within the United States to launch attacks against the homeland. The new counterterrorism framework also emphasizes targeted drone attacks aimed at eliminating terrorist leadership throughout the world.

Olsen will continue to work on NCTC's mission to integrate intelligence and to share that information with agencies and departments across the federal government. He will also conduct strategic operational planning for counterterrorism activities across the federal government.

Leiter, who has worked closely with Olsen, called him a proven leader. "His background and experience in working some of our country's toughest national security issues make him eminently qualified to serve as the center's next director," said Leiter.

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