Michael Leiter
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Michael Leiter

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

Having served at the heart of the U.S. Government's terrorism crisis management team and charged with leading the analysis and integration of all terrorism intelligence, Michael Leiter provides an in-depth understanding of activities that affect our nation's security and shares his lessons on instilling leadership and organization while managing a crisis.

  
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.

Meet Michael Leiter

Having served at the heart of the U.S. Government's terrorism crisis management team and charged with leading the analysis and integration of all terrorism intelligence, Michael Leiter provides an in-depth understanding of activities that affect our nation's security and shares his lessons on instilling leadership and organization while managing a crisis.

Michael Leiter serves as the executive vice president of integration for Leidos Holdings, a Fortune 500 science and technology company specializing in national security, health, and engineering. In this position Mike is responsible for all business development, strategy, mergers and acquisitions, government affairs, and communications. Before joining Leidos, Mike oversaw government and commercial cyber operations for Palantir Technologies, a privately-held data analytics company based in Silicon Valley.

Prior to entering the private sector Mike was the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) from 2007 until 2011, having been nominated by President George W. Bush and asked to remain by President Barack Obama. In this role Mike oversaw all U.S. counterterrorism intelligence and government-wide counterterrorism strategic planning, and was intimately involved in the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. Previously he helped establish and served in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and with the Robb-Silberman WMD Commission, as an Assistant United States Attorney, as a law clerk to Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court, and in the U.S. Navy flying EA-6B Prowlers in combat in both Iraq and the former Yugoslavia.

Mike continues to serve as an advisor to the NCTC and to the National Security Agency on cyber issues and commercial technologies. In addition he serves on advisory groups for the American Law Institute on information privacy, the Aspen Institute on homeland security, and the National Academies on intelligence and bulk data collection. He previously served as NBC News’ principal National Security, Counterterrorism, and Cyber Analyst, as a member of the RAND Corporation’s Board of Trustees, and as the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at New York University Law School’s Center on Law and Security.

Mike received his Juris Doctor degree from Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude and was President of the Harvard Law Review, and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia.

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