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Barack Obama: US counter-terrorism official to leave post

Thursday, 10 July 2014 - 8:59am IST | Place: Washington | Agency: Reuters

The US government's top counter-terrorism official will leave his post later this year, President  announced on Wednesday. 

Matthew Olsen, a former U.S. prosecutor, Justice Department official and chief lawyer for the National Security Agency, has headed the National Counter terrorism Center for the last three
years. The administration did not say who might replace Olsen.

The center is an interagency unit set up by Congress after the September 11, 2001 al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington to improve intelligence sharing between sometimes fractious
agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is part of the office of the Director of National Intelligence, created after the September 11 attacks.

U.S. officials said that Olsen had been planning for some time to depart by the end of 2014, and his departure is unconnected to any recent events.

In a statement, Obama praised Olsen. "As director of the National Counterterrorism Cente (NCTC) for the past three years, Matt and the dedicated professionals he has led at the NCTC have been
absolutely critical to our success in disrupting terrorist cells, thwarting attacks and protecting the American people from evolving threats at home and abroad," he said.

At a ceremony earlier this week to mark the NCTC's 10th birthday, two politicians responsible for its creation, Maine Senator Susan Collins and former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, said that they had to overcome strong objections from then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to win eventual congressional approval to create the center.

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