A Conversation on National Security Leadership

Former Chief Speechwriter to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld Thursday, Feb 23, 2017   |   12:15-1:30 PM   |  SRH 3.124

The Intelligence Studies Project, Clements Center, and Robert Strauss Center are pleased to host Marc Thiessen on Thursday, February 23rd, at 12:15pm in SRH 3.124. Mr. Theissen is a writer and commentator, who previously served as the Chief Speechwriter to President George W. Bush and Chief Speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. This event is free and open to the public.  

Marc Thiessen is a writer and commentator whose work has appeared dozens of leading publications, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Foreign Policy, Weekly Standard, National Review, New York Post, and Cigar Aficionado.  He is a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and appears regularly on Fox News, CNN, the BBC, C-SPAN, and talk radio.

As Chief Speechwriter to President George W. Bush, and before that Chief Speechwriter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Thiessen spent the past eight years at the center of history. 

He was in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and he collaborated with Secretary Rumsfeld on all of his major speeches during the first three years of the war on terror.  He helped make the case for military action in Afghanistan and Iraq, and traveled more than 250,000 miles with the Secretary across the world – including his first visits to Kabul and Baghdad immediately after liberation. 

Mr. Thiessen saw the war on terror up close – from the planning rooms of the Pentagon to the major battlefronts of the Middle East – and helped explain the challenges of a new and unprecedented war to the American people. 

After moving to the White House, Mr. Thiessen worked closely with President George W. Bush on hundreds of speeches – including televised addresses from the Oval Office, and most of the President’s major speeches on the war on terror during his second term.  Mr. Thiessen helped the President craft his public arguments on issues ranging from defense and national security, to energy, healthcare, taxes, trade, social and economic policy. 

Mr. Thiessen was the lead writer on the President’s 2007 and 2008 State of the Union addresses, his first before a Democratic Congress.  He wrote the President’s September 2006 East Room address revealing the existence of a CIA program to detain and question captured terrorists – a speech whose contents were so highly classified that it had to be written in a secure room at the National Security Council. 

Before joining the Bush Administration, Mr. Thiessen spent more than six years on Capitol Hill as spokesman and senior policy advisor to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms.  He represented the Committee before U.S. and international news organizations, and built a reputation as an effective and highly-quotable spokesman. Mr. Thiessen wrote Senator Helms’ memorable address to the UN Security Council, which was the topic of an episode of ABC News Nightline. 

Mr. Thiessen is a graduate of Vassar College, and completed additional post-graduate studies at the Naval War College.  He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and in 2004 was awarded the Pentagon’s highest civilian honor: The Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. 


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