Nicholas Rasmussen, senior director of the McCain Institute’s Counterterrorism Program, is a national security expert with over twenty-seven years in U.S. government service. Since 2001, Rasmussen served in the U.S. Intelligence Community, most recently serving as director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Rasmussen held senior posts across three White House administrations, serving in senior positions on the National Security Council (NSC) staff 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 became Director of NCTC. In his role, he 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. 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 NCTC’s Deputy Director from 2012 to 2014 and in senior policy and planning positions at NCTC from 2004 to 2007.
Rasmussen joined the counterterrorism community six days after 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. He 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 lead the development of U.S. counterterrorism policy and strategy, including supporting policy deliberations leading up to the U.S. military raid against Osama bin Laden.
Rasmussen began his career at the Department of State in 1991 as a Presidential Management Intern and served at State for more than a decade in a variety of key positions. Rasmussen served as Special Assistant to Ambassador-at-Large Robert Gallucci supporting the negotiation and implementation of the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework as well as Special Assistant to the State Department’s Middle East Coordinator, Ambassador Dennis Ross, working on the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Rasmussen received his bachelor’s with High Honors from Wesleyan University and a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He is the recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the Director of National Intelligence’s Distinguished Service Award and the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award.
Rasmussen has frequently provided expert analysis on terrorism and national security issues for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time Magazine, CNN, Fox News, PBS and National Public Radio. He’s currently an intelligence and national security analyst and contributor for NBC and MSNBC. Rasmussen was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he taught a course on U.S. counterterrorism policy. He and his wife Maria reside in Alexandria, Virginia.