Skip to main content

Matthew Olsen tapped to head National Counterrorism Center

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: Outgoing NCTC Director Michael Leiter calls Olsen "eminently qualified"
  • Matthew Olsen will be nominated to head the National Counterterrorism Center
  • Olsen will replace Bush-era holdover Michael Leiter if confirmed
  • The NCTC was created in 2004 to help coordinate U.S. counter-terrorism efforts

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama intends to nominate Matthew Olsen as the next director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the White House announced Friday.

Olsen currently serves as general counsel at the National Security Agency.

If confirmed, Olsen will replace Michael Leiter, a holdover from former President George W. Bush's administration.

"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,"

Obama said in a written statement.

"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."

Leiter called Olsen a "proven leader" who is "eminently qualified" to serve as the center's next director.

Among other things, Olsen previously served as an associate deputy attorney general in the Justice Department. He was also a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

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

The Olsen announcement came two days after White House adviser John Brennan unveiled a new counterterrorism strategy focused more tightly on al Qaeda's ability to inspire people within the United States to launch attacks. The strategy also stresses the importance of drone strikes and targeted raids against terrorists while avoiding prolonged wars.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report