The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
President Obama Announces Intent to Nominate Matthew Olsen as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center
Today, President Obama will announce his intent to nominate Matthew Olsen as the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Mr. Olsen will play a key role on the President’s national security team – bringing a strong voice and critical knowledge to integrate intelligence in order to protect Americans across the nation and around the world.
“I am pleased to nominate Matthew Olsen to be the next Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. 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,” said President Obama. “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.”
If confirmed, Mr. Olsen will build on the important work of the dedicated intelligence professionals at NCTC who work every day to keep our nation safe and secure. Mr. Olsen will continue NCTC’s mission to integrate intelligence relating to counterterrorism and to share that information with agencies and departments across the federal government. Additionally, Mr. Olsen will continue NCTC’s critical effort to conduct strategic operational planning for counterterrorism activities across the federal government, ensuring that we bring the full weight of our diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement authorities and capabilities to bear to thwart terrorist plans. NCTC is organizationally part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
Mr. Olsen currently serves as the General Counsel for the National Security Agency (NSA) and principal legal advisor to the NSA Director.
Olsen previously served in the Department of Justice as an Associate Deputy Attorney General and was responsible for supervising and coordinating national security and criminal matters. From 2009 to 2010, he was Special Counselor to the Attorney General and Executive Director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force. In this role, he managed the interagency effort to conduct a comprehensive review of intelligence information on the Guantanamo detainees. Olsen also served as the acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security during the 2009 presidential transition, supervising the daily operation of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.
From 2006 to 2009, he was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the National Security Division and was responsible for the management of the Department’s intelligence operations and oversight. In this position, Olsen supervised the implementation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, helped craft landmark legislative changes to the surveillance laws, and advised government officials on intelligence activities and national security.
From 1994 to 2006, Olsen was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. From 2005-2006, he was the chief of the office’s National Security Section, where he supervised the investigation and prosecution of terrorism, espionage, and export violation matters. Olsen served as Special Counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2004 to 2005, where he focused on counterterrorism and intelligence investigations. As an Assistant United States Attorney, Olsen successfully prosecuted a violent drug trafficking organization in the longest criminal trial ever in the District of Columbia.
Olsen graduated from Harvard Law School (J.D.) and the University of Virginia (B.A.). He is an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University.