National Journal Profiles White House Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco '97

From National Journal:

After two explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, a relative newcomer sat beside President Obama in the Oval Office. Homeland-security and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco held a capped pen to her face as if deep in thought. The streets of her hometown had burst into chaos, a grim reminder that Monaco’s job is a big one: advising the president on how to best protect his country. 

Monaco, who replaced John Brennan after he was confirmed as CIA director, began counseling the president on counterterrorism policy and coordinating the executive branch’s homeland-security activities just one month ago. She’s now charged with keeping the president updated about the bombings that killed at least three people and injured more than 170 others at the finish line of the world's oldest annual marathon, a Boston institution since 1897. As Obama received updates this week on the unfolding investigation, Monaco was in his inner circle, huddled with senior officials including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The explosions, which the Obama administration calls an act of terror, hit close to home for Monaco, who was raised in Newton, Mass., and attended the Winsor School, an all-girls prep school, before attending Harvard University. With Americans clamoring for answers, Obama insisted Tuesday that “we still do not know who did this or why” and pledged to hold those responsible.

Obama’s response, partly, is Monaco’s responsibility. And both components—investigating the incident and eventually prosecuting the culprit—speak to her history at the Justice Department and FBI. While she’s a relative newcomer to this particular role, Monaco is no stranger to stressful, high-profile jobs: As assistant attorney general for national security, she oversaw Justice’s national security division since 2011 after moving up the ranks there. She and Mueller have worked closely together before: The University of Chicago Law School graduate was his former counsel and chief of staff. She initially joined the FBI on detail from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

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