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The McCain Institute National Security & Counterterrorism Program

“[We] must unite against hatred & bigotry.”
Senator John McCain, After the White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville, Va. 2017

Few Americans in recent decades have been more out in front in working for a safer and more peaceful world than Senator John McCain. A leading national security thinker and strategist of his generation, Senator McCain championed effective and humane policies to fight terrorism both at home and across the globe—work that the McCain Institute’s National Security & Counterterrorism program continues today.

Efforts at the Institute are centered on educating the next generation of character-driven leaders in national security and partnering with local governments, law enforcement and non-government community organizations to help them identify at-risk individuals before they turn to violence.

McCain Institute Next Generation Leader Major Travis Trammell, U.S. Army, greets Senator John McCain as he reviews the security situation in Afghanistan in 2015.


Core Programmatic Areas

McCain Institute National Security & Counterterrorism Fellowship

• Investing in the personal and professional development of the best and brightest emerging leaders in national security from across theFive Eyes partner nations

• Building an enduring global community of young national securityprofessionals poised to become decisionmakers and thought leaders in the field

Peer-to-Peer: Protective Project

• Empowering university students to counter extremism and hatethrough the creation and deployment of dynamic campaigns

• Launching in spring 2020 at 10 universities around the United Stateswith plans to expand to an additional 10 universities

• Learn more about the Peer-to-Peer: Protective Project here.

Practitioners Network

• Creating a coalition of experts to share best practices, draw on cutting-edge research and deploy innovative strategies to prevent hate and targeted violence throughout the United States

The McCain Institute National Security & Counterterrorism Fellowship

Senior Director of National Security & Counterterrorism Program Part of BBC Radio’s ‘Witness to History’ Series

Nick Rasmussen, the McCain Institute’s senior director of National Security & Counterterrorism program, was part of one of the most critical moments in modern history. As special assistant to President Barack Obama as a member of the White House national security staff and senior director for counterterrorism issues, he was one of the people present in the White House situation room during the top secret raid to capture al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in May 2011. Listen to his account as part of BBC Radio’s “Witness to History” Series.

(left) Nick Rasmussen, senior director of the National Security & Counterterrorism program at the McCain Institute and former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, comments on the New Zealand Christchurch terrorist attack. (middle) Brette Steele, director of prevention and national security, gives expert testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties during the hearing, “Confronting White Supremacy: Adequacy of the Federal Response.” (right) McCain Institute Chair of the Board Cindy McCain, along with Acting Executive Director Nick Rasmussen meets with two members of the inaugural National Security & Counterterrorism fellowship class: Chris Selim, Head of Operational Policy and Secretariat, Home Office, London and Catherine Bray, Head of Wider World Team, U.K. Permanent Representation to the European Union, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Brussels.