Nicholas Rasmussen

Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center

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At the Podium

When Nick Rasmussen stepped down from his role as director of the National Counterterrorism Center he was one of a handful of individuals who had been serving continuously in counterterrorism jobs since Sept. 11th. As Director, he often found himself at the table when many of the most challenging national security issues were debated and decided upon from myriad bad choices. At the podium, Rasmussen shares vivid examples of his time in government, illustrating how to take imperfect information and use it to understand and minimize risk. He also puts terrorism into both historical and modern perspective, providing audiences with a clear-eyed look at the global state of affairs. Whether seeking better understanding of national security, counterterrorism and global trouble spots—such as Iran, Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan—or looking to better understand risk management, audiences will appreciate his down-to-earth approach and comprehensive understanding of the challenges we face.

About Nicholas Rasmussen

Nicholas “Nick” Rasmussen is a senior national security professional with twenty-seven years in U.S. government service, including in senior counterterrorism posts at the White House and in the U.S. Intelligence Community from 2001 to 2017. With a unique blend of experience as a senior policy executive and intelligence official, Rasmussen capped his federal government career as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), where he led more than 1,000 personnel from across the Intelligence Community, federal government, and federal contractor workforce. Rasmussen served in senior posts across three White House administrations, serving on the National Security Council (NSC) under Presidents Bush and Obama before being appointed Director of NCTC by President Obama and continuing his tenure at the request of President Trump’s administration in 2017.

In 2014, Rasmussen was nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the fifth Director of NCTC, which was created by Congress in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks as the primary organization in the U.S. government for analysis and integration of all terrorism intelligence. In this position, Rasmussen provided independent assessments on counterterrorism issues to the President and National Security Council, led and integrated the counterterrorism community on behalf of the Director of National Intelligence, and conducted strategic operational planning of U.S. counterterrorism activities in support of the President.

During his tenure, Rasmussen prioritized deepening the Center’s intelligence analysis to support the U.S. government’s campaign against ISIS and expanding NCTC’s reach with federal, state, and local partners as well as the private sector and foreign allies. Prior to becoming Director, Rasmussen served as Deputy Director from 2012 to 2014 and in senior policy and planning positions at NCTC from 2004-2007.

Rasmussen joined the counterterrorism community six days before the 9/11 attacks, serving as the Director of Regional Affairs in the Office of Combating Terrorism on President George W. Bush’s NSC staff from 2001 to 2004. Rasmussen rejoined the Bush Administration NSC in 2007 and continued his NSC service into President Obama’s administration to serve as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism. In this role, Rasmussen was charged with leading the development of U.S. counterterrorism policy and strategy, including policy deliberations leading up to the U.S. military raid against Usama bin Laden.

Rasmussen began his career at the Department of State in 1991 as a Presidential Management Intern and served for more than a decade in a variety of key positions. As Special Assistant to the State Department’s Middle East Coordinator, Ambassador Dennis Ross, from 1996-2001, Rasmussen was intimately involved in the Department’s work on the Arab-Israeli peace process. Prior to that, he served as Special Assistant to Ambassador-at-Large Robert Gallucci supporting the negotiation and implementation of the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework.

A recipient of a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, Rasmussen is also the recipient of the highest honors the U.S. Government awards to intelligence professionals and career civil servants, including the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal in 2017 and the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award in 2016.

Rasmussen is a National Security and Intelligence Contributor for NBC News and MSNBC and has regularly provided expert analysis on terrorism and national security issues for major media outlets, including The New York Times, Time Magazine, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio. Rasmussen has served as a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and as a visiting faculty member at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he taught a course on U.S. counterterrorism policy.

Speech Topics

  • Terrorism and National Security, In Perspective
  • Risk Management in a World in Flux

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