Obama nominates antiterror center chief
WASHINGTON - President Obama nominated Matthew Olsen, a former prosecutor with extensive experience in intelligence matters, as the nation’s next counterterrorism chief, the White House said yesterday.
Olsen, if confirmed by the Senate, would direct the National Counterterrorism Center, an agency created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. That agency is charged with analyzing information gathered across the intelligence community and then providing assessments to the president and policy makers.
“Matt will be a critical part of my national security team as we work to tirelessly thwart attacks against our nation and do everything in our power to protect the American people,’’ Obama said.
Olsen, 49, is the general counsel for the National Security Agency. He has also held high-level roles in overseeing intelligence matters at the Justice Department and the FBI. From 2009 to 2010, Olsen directed the task force that, on Obama’s orders, reviewed the intelligence on detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
Olsen would replace Michael Leiter, the former Navy pilot who served in the director’s job under Obama and President George W. Bush. Leiter is leaving on a high note after the intelligence success and covert operation by US commandos in Pakistan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Leiter, who has worked with Olsen closely, called him a proven leader and good friend.
Olsen’s job would also require him to oversee operational planning for counterterrorism activities across the federal government. He would report directly to the president and the director of national intelligence.
In another nomination, the president picked Wendy Sherman, a former top aide to former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, for the number-three post at the State Department.