WASHINGTON — Michael Leiter, the head of the US National Counterterrorism Center across two administrations, is resigning, officials said Thursday as President Barack Obama paid a warm tribute.
Leiter heads the prime government clearing house and analytical point for terrorism threat information set up after intelligence failures contributed to the September 11 attacks in 2001.
“Mike Leiter’s entire career has been one of service to our nation and I know his decision to leave the National Counterterrorism Center was undoubtedly a difficult one for him,” said Obama in a statement.
“Serving in two administrations since 2007, Mike led the National Counterterrorism Center with dedication and unwavering determination during challenging and demanding times.
“Mike has been a trusted advisor to me and to the entire national security team, providing us with an in-depth understanding of terrorist activities that affect our nation’s security.”
Leiter, who rarely played a public role in the US fight against terrorism, was highly regarded inside the administration, as one of the officials faced with a 24-hour a day responsibility to prevent attacks on US soil.
Key administration officials came to his defense after he took a vacation with his son after an alleged bid by a Nigerian man armed with an underwear bomb to down a Northwest Airlines jet headed for Detroit on Christmas Day, 2009.