Michael Leiter | Director, National Counterterrorism Center (2008 - 2011) and Counterterrorism, Cybersecurity and National Security Analyst for NBC News

Michael Leiter

Director, National Counterterrorism Center (2008 - 2011) and Counterterrorism, Cybersecurity and National Security Analyst for NBC News

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Michael Leiter

Michael Leiter serves as the Executive Vice President for Business Development and Strategy for Leidos Holdings (LDOS), a Fortune 500 national security, health, and energy technology company based in Reston, Virginia. In this position Mike reports to the Leidos Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for all Leidos business development, strategy development and execution, mergers and acquisitions, government affairs, and communications.

Prior to joining Leidos, Mike served as Head of Global Government & Commercial Cyber Operations, and Senior Counselor to the Chief Executive Officer, of Palantir Technologies, which specializes in big data analytics for governments and private enterprise and is one of the largest private technology companies in the United States.

Before entering the private sector, Mike served as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) from 2007 until 2011, having been nominated to the position by President George W. Bush and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. Mike was one of the few senior national security officials asked to continue in his position by President Barack Obama. As the Director of NCTC, Mike led the primary organization in the U.S. government for analysis and integration of all terrorism intelligence, both domestically and overseas. In addition, Mike reported directly to the President for strategic operational planning of all U.S. counterterrorism activities, to include the integration of military, intelligence, cyber, diplomatic, financial, and homeland security programs and operations.

As NCTC's Director, Mike led more than 1,200 personnel, managed an annual budget of more than $400 million, and represented the U.S. counterterrorism community before the U.S. Congress and with numerous foreign governments; in addition, he advised the Office of Management and Budget on the allocation of more than $100 billion annually for government-wide counterterrorism activities.

Before NCTC, Mike served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the nation's first Cabinet-level intelligence coordinator, and as the Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Director of the President's Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. From 2002 until 2005, Mike served with the Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Immediately prior he served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States and Chief Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. From 1991 until 1997, Mike served as a Naval Flight Officer flying EA-6B Prowler carrier-based jets in the U.S. Navy, and participated in combat and peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Mike also previously served as a Senior Advisor to Monument Capital Group, NBC News' principal National Security, Counterterrorism, and Cyber Analyst, the Board of Directors of GardaWorld Government Services, and as a member of the RAND Corporation's Board of Trustees. In addition, he serves on several National Security Agency (NSA) advisory panels, the American Law Institute's Board of Advisers on Information Privacy, the NCTC Director's Advisory Board, the Bipartisan Policy Center Homeland Security Project, the Aspen Institute's Homeland Security Advisory Group, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He previously served as the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at New York University Law School's Center on Law and Security.

Mike received his J.D. from Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude and was President of the Harvard Law Review, and his B.A. from Columbia.

Michael Leiter
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Michael Leiter
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Leading in a Crisis
Before, During, and After

For more than four years Leiter served at the heart of terrorism crisis management in the U.S. Government as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center—the post-9/11 organization created to serve as the hub of intelligence and policy planning for the U.S. counterterrorism community. Over the course of two administrations, Leiter helped lead the U.S. Government’s efforts to respond to repeated crises and high-stakes events, such as al-Qaida’s failed attempt to bring a U.S. airliner down over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, a failed car bomb attack in Times Square, the tragic shooting at Ft. Hood, and the successful mission that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Through examples from these and other events, Leiter shows how principled, thoughtful, visionary, and energetic leadership can carry an organization through crises and—more importantly—can lead to improvements in mission effectiveness that might otherwise be impossible. Leiter’s lessons of motivating and focusing a workforce, working with critical partners and customers, and effecting change apply to a wide range of businesses and organizations well-beyond those involved in combating terrorism or involved in the national security enterprise.

Are We Keeping Up in a Rapidly Changing World?

Reflecting on more than two decades in public service and having been deeply involved in the U.S. Government’s national security and intelligence transformation of the past decade, Leiter discusses the ways in which the U.S. Government and the U.S. private sector is—and is not—keeping up with enormous global changes. In particular, Leiter talks about how the rapidly changing dynamics across the Middle East and North Africa, the increasingly dangerous aspects of cyberspace, and the worrisome availability of weapons of mass destruction are often outpacing our ability to address critical national security needs. In addition, Leiter describes how the private sector can help partner with the U.S. Government and foreign nations to address many of these challenges, as well as the ways in which many of our traditional policy, legal, and process solutions are falling short.

The Changing Face of Global Terrorism and Our Response

Having served as the nation’s chief counterterrorism analyst, strategist, and coordinator for two Presidents, Leiter describes all aspects of the terrorist threat the U.S. and global businesses face worldwide. Ranging from personal reflections on being in the Situation Room during the mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden to advising Presidents Obama and Bush on how to confront al-Qaida’s ideology, Leiter offers deep insight into how the global threat of terror has evolved, where it poses the greatest threats, and what strategies—both government and private sector—are best suited for reducing vulnerabilities. Leiter provides carefully tailored discussions related to terrorists’ use of attacks like those seen in Mumbai, India in 2008, the risks of terrorists’ use of weapons of mass destruction, how to combat homegrown terrorism, and cyber terror and ways to defend against it. In addition, Leiter uses his years of advising the Office of Management and Budget and the Congress on U.S. Government-wide counterterrorism programs to describe areas of opportunity for private industry to contribute to making U.S. and international counterterrorism efforts more effective.

Michael Leiter
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