Matthew Olsen
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Matthew Olsen

Director, National Counterterrorism Center (2011- 2014); National Security Analyst for ABC News; and Harvard Law School Lecturer

For more than a decade, Matt Olsen has been at the forefront of our nation’s national security efforts and has played a pivotal role in shaping our response to terrorism, cybersecurity and surveillance. He now helps lead a cybersecurity technology firm. With his unique experience and insightful analysis, Olsen provides an engaging and candid look at some of the most important and far-reaching challenges facing the country.

 
Cyber Attacks and Our Nation's Security

Cyber attacks have emerged as a leading threat to our national security, endangering both government and private computer systems and networks. In the coming years, our adversaries will hone their skills, and the scope and scale of the threat will escalate. Companies will need to develop a sophisticated understanding of the nature of the threat, the government’s role in defending cyberspace, and the steps companies can take to secure their networks and information. As a leading government official at the NSA and the Justice Department, Matt Olsen has worked on the inside on these challenges, and he now helps lead a cybersecurity technology firm. Olsen brings an astute understanding of the myriad threats to companies in cyberspace and the government’s capabilities and limitations in this domain, as well as ways companies can enhance their cybersecurity.

Responding to the Dynamic Threat of Terrorism

With the rapid rise of new terrorist groups like the Islamic State, the ongoing threat from al-Qaida, and the impact of homegrown terrorist cells, terrorism remains an urgent concern for the nation. The terrorism landscape is more complex than ever as terrorist groups have multiplied and expanded. Networks of terrorist operatives pursue a range of lethal objectives both inside and outside of national borders and reach across continents from South Asia to the Middle East and from North Africa to Europe. Over the past few years, terrorists have attacked a natural gas installation in Algeria, killed U.S. government personnel in Libya, and bombed the Boston Marathon—all underscoring the dynamic and persistent threats to U.S. citizens and to our interests around the world. With his deep experience, Matt Olsen shares his keen understanding of terrorism and the ways the government and the private sector can work together to counter these threats and enhance our security.

The Demands of Crisis Leadership

Over the course of his career in government, Matt Olsen has served in leadership roles in tackling some of the most urgent and challenging security issues facing the nation. His work has included responding to cyber attacks on critical infrastructure networks, combating terrorist threats inside the United States, addressing the ongoing controversy over government surveillance, and reviewing the status of detainees at Guantanamo. Olsen has provided thoughtful and principled leadership on these issues, helping to forge effective responses and solutions that emphasize collaboration across organizations and overcoming bureaucratic silos, while balancing competing values and interests. Olsen conveys his discerning views on leadership in demanding, high-performing organizations and his hard-earned lessons and insights on leadership in the midst of a crisis.

Meet Matthew Olsen

For more than a decade, Matt Olsen has been at the forefront of our nation’s national security efforts and has played a pivotal role in shaping our response to terrorism, cybersecurity and surveillance. He now helps lead a cybersecurity technology firm. With his unique experience and insightful analysis, Olsen provides an engaging and candid look at some of the most important and far-reaching challenges facing the country.

When Matt Olsen recently left government, President Obama observed that "every American is safer because of his service." As the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) for the past three years, Olsen has been at the center of the nation’s efforts to defend the country against a complex and expansive terrorism threat. In this role, Olsen has been responsible for keeping senior leaders, including the President and the National Security Council, apprised of threats facing the country and for coordinating our efforts to identify and disrupt terrorist plots. He helped lead the counterterrorism community through several terror attacks, including the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2012 assault in Benghazi, Libya.

Prior to his service at NCTC, Olsen was the general counsel at the National Security Agency and an official at the Department of Justice. In these positions, Olsen played a leading role in shaping the government’s efforts to enhance cybersecurity and to conduct intelligence operations against foreign terrorist targets, while maintaining our adherence to the rule of law and the protection of civil liberties. He also led the government’s review of detainees at Guantanamo. Based on his unique experiences, Olsen provides a discerning perspective on the security challenges facing the country and shares his insights on navigating crises and the role of leadership.

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U.S. Secretary of Defense (2013–2015); U.S. Senator (1997–2009); Former Chairman, Atlantic Council; President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (2009–2012); Former Member, The Systemic Risk Council; Distinguished Professor, Georgetown University; and Co-founder, Vanguard Cellular Systems, Inc.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007-2011)

U.S. Secretary of Defense (2011-2013), Director, Central Intelligence Agency (2009-2011), Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton (1994-1997), Director, U.S. Office of Management and Budget (1993-1994) and Co-founder, Panetta Institute for Public Policy