Skip to main content

Sources: Obama administration finalizing counter-terrorism strategy

From Fran Townsend, CNN National Security Contributor
  • The new strategy could be made public within weeks
  • Sources also say Michael Leiter, a top counter-terrorism official, is leaving
  • The new strategy, Leiter's departure come amid changes in the security apparatus

Washington (CNN) -- The Obama administration is in the final stages of completing its first national counter-terrorism strategy, and public release could come within weeks, perhaps in a presidential speech, according to two sources.

The sources, one of whom has firsthand knowledge, said the administration has completed interagency coordination of what will be President Barack Obama's opportunity to define his counter-terrorism vision and distinguish it from Bush administration policy in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Officials are in the final stages of planning for the printing of the strategy and its public release, the sources said.

In addition, the sources said that Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center and a holdover from the Bush administration, will be stepping down soon.

Leiter notified the White House of his intention to leave, which is expected to happen sometime in the next six weeks, according to the sources.

Leiter's departure comes as no surprise, especially as the nation's security and counter-terrorism apparatus undergoes change with Leon Panetta moving from CIA director to defense secretary, and Gen. David Petraeus succeeding Panetta at the nation's spy agency.

Leiter came under criticism in December 2009 for being on a skiing vacation at the time of the Christmas Day bombing attempt aboard a U.S. airplane about to land in Detroit, Michigan.

According to the sources, possible successors to Leiter at the NCTC include former Treasury official Stuart Levy and Juan Zarate, who was deputy national security advisor in the Bush administration.

Candidates will be considered by the Department of National Intelligence and the White House, especially John Brennan, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism, the sources said.

The NCTC was created in 2004 to better coordinate the 16 intelligence and security agencies and organizations involved in counter-terrorism efforts.