Michael J. Morell
Former Acting Director and Deputy Director
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Michael Morell, the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is one of our nation’s leading national security professionals, with extensive experience in intelligence and foreign policy. He has been at the center of our nation’s fight against terrorism, its work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape—including the Arab Spring, the rise of China, and the cyber threat. Politico has called Michael the “Bob Gates of his generation.”
During his 33-year career at CIA, Michael served as Deputy Director for over three years, a job in which he managed the Agency’s day-to-day operations, represented the Agency at the White House and Congress, and maintained the Agency’s relationships with intelligence services and foreign leaders around the world. Michael also served twice as Acting Director, leading CIA when Leon Panetta was named Secretary of Defense and again after David Petraeus left government.
Michael’s senior assignments at CIA also included serving for two years as the Director of Intelligence, the Agency’s top analyst, and for two years as Executive Director, the CIA’s top administrator—managing human resources, the budget, security, and information technology for an agency the size of a Fortune 200 firm.
Michael has been a witness to history on multiple occasions. He is the only person who was both with President Bush on September 11th, when al-Qaida burst into the American consciousness, and with President Obama on May 1st, when Bin Laden was brought to justice. Michael played a major role in the Bin Laden operation.
Michael is known inside CIA for his leadership. He inspired individuals and work units to perform beyond expectations. He mentored most of the Agency’s current senior leadership team, including a significant number of women and minorities. When he departed CIA, thousands of officers wrote Michael notes of thanks.
Michael is the recipient of many awards. He received the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional performance – the nation’s highest honor for civilian service. He also received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, CIA’s highest award, for his role in the Bin Ladin operation. Michael is also the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Medal.
Today, Michael is involved in a wide range of activities. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company; Senior Counselor to Washington’s fastest growing consulting firm, Beacon Global Strategies; and a consultant to a number of private sector entities. He is the Chairman of the Board of one of those entities – Culpeper National Security Solutions, a subsidiary of DynCorp International.
Much of what Michael does today is tied to national security. Until recently, he was a senior national security contributor for CBS News. He is a frequent guest on the Charlie Rose Show discussing national security issues. He is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; a Senior Fellow at West Point’s Center on Combatting Terrorism; a resident fellow this fall at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Group, which advises the Secretary of Homeland Security on national security issues; a member of the Board of Director’s of the Atlantic Council, a member of the Advisory Board to the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, and a member of the Atlantic Council’s advisory group to its study on the future of the Middle East. He served as a Member of President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology.
Michael is the author of the New York Times bestseller on CIA’s nearly 20-year fight against al Qa`ida. The title of the book is “The Great War of Our Time: An Insider’s Account of the CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From al Qaida to ISIS.” It was published in May 2015.
Michael is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and he maintains close ties to northeast Ohio. His father and mother—who taught him hard work, the pursuit of excellence, and humility—were an autoworker and a homemaker. Michael is a first-generation college student, earning a B.A. summa cum laude in economics from the University of Akron. He also earned an M.A. in economics from Georgetown University.
Michael is involved with charities associated with supporting the families of fallen soldiers and intelligence officers.