Posted: 1:35 am EDT
The Bureau of Counterterrorism leads the Department of State in the whole-of-government effort to counter terrorism abroad and to secure the United States against foreign terrorist threats.
In 1994, Congress officially mandated the Bureau of Counterterrorism in Public Law 103-236 [H.R. 2333]. In 1998, Congress further defined the role of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in Public Law 105-277 [H.R. 4328]:
“There is within the office of the Secretary of State a Coordinator for Counterterrorism…who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate…. The principal duty of the coordinator shall be the overall supervision (including policy oversight of resources) of international counterterrorism activities. The Coordinator shall be the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters. The coordinator shall be the principal counterterrorism official within the senior management of the Department of State and shall report directly to the Secretary of State…The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of Ambassador at Large.”
Ambassador Tina Kaidanow who served as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism (State/CT) since February 2014 has officially moved to the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs where she was designated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State on February 22, 2016. It looks like she is dual-hatted and is also the Acting Assistant Secretary for the PM bureau.
We’re not exactly sure when but Justin H. Siberell has also been designated as the Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Mr. Siberell entered the Foreign Service in March 1993, and joined the CT Bureau in July 2012. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and was recently confirmed by the Senate to the rank of Minister-Counselor. Below is a brief bio via state.gov:
Before joining the CT Bureau, Mr. Siberell was Principal Officer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Other overseas assignments include service at U.S. Embassies and Consulates in Baghdad, Iraq; Amman, Jordan; Alexandria, Egypt; and Panama City, Panama.
In Washington, Mr. Siberell completed tours in the State Department Operations Center and Executive Secretariat; as Desk Officer for Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and as Executive Assistant to the National Security Advisor at the White House.
Mr. Siberell was raised in California, and attended the University of California at Berkeley where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History.
Mr. Siberell is a 2002 graduate of the State Department’s Arabic Language Field School in Tunis, Tunisia. Mr. Siberell speaks Arabic and Spanish.
With some ten months left in this administration, we don’t know if there will actually be a new nominee for the counterterrorism bureau. The CT coordinator is ambassador rank and requires a Senate confirmation. Is there a nominee waiting in the wings? Even if there is one, it’s hard to say if that individual could even get confirmation, which seems to be worse than pulling an elephant’s teeth these days. The leadership of the Bureau of Counterterrorism currently includes the following officials:
- Justin Siberell, Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism
- Marie Richards, Ph.D., Deputy Coordinator for Regional Affairs and Multilateral Affairs
- Karen Lynn Williams, Deputy Coordinator for Operations
- Hillary Batjer Johnson, Deputy Coordinator for Homeland Security, Screening, and Designations
- Jacob Walles, Senior Adviser on Foreign Fighters