Securing the Homeland: A Conversation with Intelligence and Counterterrorism Leaders of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Kenneth L. Wainstein, Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, Nicholas J. Rasmussen, Counterterrorism Coordinator Taskforce Director, and Steven Cash, Executive Director of the Intelligence Enterprise Program Office
Wednesday, January 31, 2024 | 12:00 - 1:30 pm | 10th Floor Atrium, LBJ Presidential Library
On Wednesday, January 31, the Intelligence Studies Project, Clements Center for National Security, Strauss Center for International Security and Law, LBJ Presidential Library, and LBJ School of Public Affairs hosted “Securing the Homeland: A Conversation with Intelligence and Counterterrorism Leaders of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” with Kenneth L. Wainstein, Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis, Nicholas J. Rasmussen, Counterterrorism Coordinator Taskforce Director, and Steven Cash, Executive Director of the Intelligence Enterprise Program Office. Steve Slick, Director of the Intelligence Studies Project, moderated the discussion.
Kenneth L. Wainstein was confirmed as the Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security by the United States Senate on June 7, 2022. Wainstein is responsible for providing the Secretary, DHS senior leadership, DHS components, and state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners with the homeland security intelligence and information needed to keep the country safe, secure, and resilient. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) is a member of, and the Department’s liaison to, the U.S. Intelligence Community. Wainstein serves as the Chief Intelligence Officer for DHS and reports directly to the DHS Secretary and Director of National Intelligence.
Prior to his confirmation, Wainstein was a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Davis Polk & Wardwell. During his time in private practice, Wainstein also served as a law school adjunct professor teaching national security law for twelve years, as a commissioner on the Bipartisan Commission on Biodefense, as a member of the Public Interest Declassification Board, and in a number of other national security organizations.
Wainstein previously spent over 20 years in law enforcement and national security positions in the federal government. Between 1989 and 2001, Wainstein served as a federal prosecutor in both the Southern District of New York and the District of Columbia, where he handled criminal prosecutions ranging from public corruption to violent gang cases and held a variety of supervisory positions, including Acting United States Attorney. In 2001, he was appointed Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, where he provided oversight and support to the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. Between 2002 and 2004, Wainstein served as General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and then as Chief of Staff to Director Robert S. Mueller, III. Wainstein was then nominated and confirmed as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, where he led the largest U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country, and in 2006 he was again confirmed as the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Department of Justice. In that position, Wainstein established and led the new National Security Division, which consolidated the Justice Department’s law enforcement and intelligence operations on all national security matters. In 2008, Wainstein was named Homeland Security Advisor by President George W. Bush. In that capacity, he advised the President, convened and chaired meetings of the Cabinet Officers on the Homeland Security Council, and oversaw the inter-agency process coordinating the nation’s counterterrorism, homeland security, infrastructure protection, and disaster response and recovery efforts.
Wainstein graduated from the University of Virginia and received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
Nicholas J. Rasmussen is the DHS Counterterrorism (CT) Coordinator Taskforce Director. The DHS CT Coordinator reports to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is the Department’s most senior official charged with coordinating counterterrorism-related activities – including intelligence, planning, operational, and policy matters – across DHS agencies and representing the Department’s relevant equities across the interagency and externally. The CT Coordinator Taskforce Director leads an organization-wide assessment to determine the efficiency of the current structure and internal processes, and develop and deliver recommendations and strategies to immediately improve planning, coordination, and operational execution of the critical CT efforts.
A national security professional with more than 27 years in U.S. government service, Rasmussen held senior counterterrorism posts at the White House and in the U.S. Intelligence Community from 2001 to 2017. He concluded his government career as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), leading more than 1,000 professionals from across the Intelligence Community, federal government, and federal contractor workforce. Rasmussen served in senior posts across three administrations, including as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council 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. From 1991-2001, he served in policy positions at the Department of State, focused on the Middle East.
Most recently, Rasmussen served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), a 501(c)(3) organization charged with preventing terrorists from exploiting the online environment. He has held appointments as Visiting Professor of Practice at the School of Law, The University of Texas at Austin; as Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the National Security College of Australia National University; and as Distinguished Professor of Practice at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He was also a Non-Resident Senior National Security Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership, where he served as Senior Director of National Security and Counterterrorism programs from 2018 to 2020. Rasmussen holds a B.A. degree from Wesleyan University and an M.P.A. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.
Steven A. Cash joined the Office of Intelligence & Analysis as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary in 2022. In addition to serving as Senior Advisor, he is the Acting Executive Director of the Intelligence Enterprise Program Office, which manages the Department-wide intelligence program, and assists the Under Secretary in his role as the Department’s Chief Intelligence Officer.
Cash began his career in local law enforcement, serving in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecuting street crime and industry-wide corruption. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1994 as an assistant general counsel, focusing on the interaction between CIA and law enforcement, particularly in terrorism matters. In 1996, he transferred to CIA’s Directorate of Operations, serving as a headquarters-based operations officer. His work in operations involved counterterrorism, counterproliferation and special operations, as well as counterintelligence responsibilities. He was awarded the CIA’s Medal of Merit for his work on a sensitive project.
In 2001, Cash joined the professional staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where he served as the lead counterterrorism staffer, counsel, and designee staffer for Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. He worked on post-9/11 legislation, such as the establishment of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the USA-Patriot Act, and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, including the provisions which established what is now the Intelligence and Analysis office.
Cash left the Senate committee in 2003 to serve as the first minority staff director for the newly established Select Committee on Homeland Security in the House of Representatives. He then served as chief of staff for the Office of Intelligence at the Department of Energy. He later returned to the Senate, where he was the chief counsel and minority staff director for the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology & Homeland Security. In that position he worked closely with state and local law enforcement on terrorism and gang issues.
Cash entered the private sector in 2006 as a consultant focusing on intelligence issues, particularly those at the intersection of technology, intelligence, national security, and homeland security. Much of his recent work has focused on counterintelligence issues confronting sensitive U.S. domestic assets. He also served as co-vice-chair of the Biological Sciences Experts Group, an outside advisory panel established under the authority of the Director of National Intelligence. Cash is a graduate of Vassar College and Yale Law School.
Stephen B. Slick is the inaugural Director of the Intelligence Studies Project. He retired in 2014 after 28 years as a member of CIA’s clandestine service. Between 2005 and 2009, Slick served as a special assistant to the president and the Senior Director for Intelligence Programs and Reform on the staff of the National Security Council. He was previously the Director for Intelligence Programs at the NSC. While serving at the White House, Slick participated in efforts to restructure and reform the intelligence community informed by recommendations of the commissions charged with investigating the 9/11 attacks and the flawed pre-war analysis of Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs. These efforts included a series of executive orders on U.S. intelligence issued in August 2004, key provisions in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the administration’s responses to recommendations by the “WMD Commission,” as well as significant amendments to Executive Order 12333 that were approved by President George W. Bush in 2008.
Slick completed five overseas tours as a CIA operations officer and manager, including service from 2009 to 2013 as the chief of station and director of national intelligence’s representative in a Middle Eastern capital. His assignments at CIA Headquarters included service as an executive assistant to the deputy director of central intelligence and leading CIA’s operations in the Balkans. Slick received CIA’s Medal of Merit, Commendation Medal and other awards.
Prior to joining CIA, Slick was a litigation associate at the law firm of Rawle and Henderson in Philadelphia. Slick received a B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University, J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, and Master in Public Policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.