Matthew G. Olsen - Department of Justice

Department of Justice

Olsen joined the United States Department of Justice in 1992, working as a trial attorney for the Department's Civil Rights Division.

He joined the United States Attorney's office for the District of Columbia in 1994, working as a federal prosecutor. In 2003, he was appointed Deputy Chief for the Organized Crime and Narcotics Trafficking Section within the U.S. Attorney's Office and worked as a Special Counsel to FBI Director Robert Mueller from 2004 to 2005. In 2005, the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Kenneth L. Wainstein, appointed Olsen as the Chief of the newly created of the National Security Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office, where he headed an eleven member division that prosecuted suspected terrorists, and those who are suspected of illegal arms and human trafficking.

Olsen was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's National Security Division, where he served from 2006 to 2009, and was the acting director of the division from January to March of 2009. Olsen was in charge of the Justice Department's management of intelligence operations and oversight, and helped oversee the expansion of the National Security Division's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. During his tenure, Olsen helped coordinate the expansion between the intelligence community and federal prosecutors in using intelligence from clandestine operations and warrantless surveillance in criminal cases. The actions were criticized by civil liberties advocates for threatening privacy rights, with Olsen saying that "We want to make sure that everyone knows what each other's doing," and that the Department of Justice "wants to make sure that we're taking full advantage of this very valuable information." He voiced his support and helped craft legislation for the 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and was in charge of coordinating other FISA-related litigation.

In the aftermath of President Barack Obama signing Executive Order 13492, creating the Guantanamo Review Task Force to issue the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, United States Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Olsen as the Executive Director of the Task Force. After the task force released their final report in 2010, regarding the recommendations and evaluation of which captives to hold indefinitely and which prisoners should be transferred to their home country's, the Obama administration ultimately decided to continue the incarceration of all of the detainees at Guantanamo.

Olsen briefly served as Associate Deputy Attorney General from March 2011 to July 2011, before leaving the Justice Department and joining the National Security Agency as the General Counsel, the NSA's chief legal adviser.

Before his nomination as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Olsen also was an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center from 2001 to 2011.

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