Lisa Monaco

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Lisa Monaco
Lisa Monaco --DOJ Portrait--.jpg
6th United States Homeland Security Advisor
Assumed office
March 8, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by John Brennan
4th Assistant Attorney General for National Security
In office
July 1, 2011 – March 8, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by David Kris
Succeeded by John Carlin
Personal details
Born Lisa Oudens Monaco
(1968-02-23) February 23, 1968 (age 50)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater Harvard University
University of Chicago

Lisa Oudens Monaco (born February 25, 1968) is an American federal prosecutor who currently serves as the United States Homeland Security Advisor to President Barack Obama; the chief counterterrorism advisor to the President, and a statutory member of the United States Homeland Security Council.

Monaco previously served as the Assistant Attorney General for National Security from 2011 to 2013, and as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department.

Early life, education, and career

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents Anthony and Mary Lou Monaco, she was raised in Newton, Massachusetts, and graduated from The Winsor School in 1986.[1][2] She has a French and Polish descent.[3]

Monaco attended Harvard University, graduating with her Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in American History and Literature, in 1990.[4] After graduating, she worked as a research associate for The Wilson Quarterly at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars from 1990 to 1991, and as a senior associate for the Health Care Advisory Board, a healthcare advisory group, from 1991 to 1992.[5] She worked for as a research coordinator for the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 1992 to 1994 under then chairman Joe Biden, where she worked on the Violence Against Women Act;[6] before enrolling into the University of Chicago Law School where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the University of Chicago Law School Roundtable.[7] During her time at the University of Chicago, she briefly worked as an intern for District Court Judge Wendell P. Gardner, Jr., on the D.C. Superior Court and as an intern for the United States Department of Justice in 1995.[8] She worked as an intern for the White House Office of Legislative Affairs in 1996, and entered private practice as a summer associate for the law firm Hogan and Hartson, LLP, before receiving her Juris Doctor in 1997.[9] She was admitted to the New York City Bar Association in 1998.

United States Department of Justice

From 1997 to 1998, Monaco worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Jane Richards Roth on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and as the Counsel to then Attorney General Janet Reno from 1998 to 2001.[10] From 2001 to 2007, she worked in the United States Attorney's office for the District of Columbia, where she was as an assistant prosecuting attorney, and was appointed as a special prosecutor, co-leading the trial counsel for the Justice Department's Enron Task Force, from 2004 to 2006.[11] Monaco received Department of Justice Awards for Special Achievement in 2002, 2003 and 2005.[12] After the end of the Enron trial and the Justice Department's disbandment of the special task force, Monaco worked as a special counselor to FBI Director Robert Mueller. She was later chosen by Mueller to work as a full-time counselor and as his Deputy Chief of Staff from May to September 2007,[13] when she was appointed by Mueller as his Chief of Staff; a position she held until January 2009.[7]

Lisa Monaco briefs President Obama on the investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing, in the Diplomatic Reception Room before the President departed the White House, April 18, 2013

In 2009, Monaco was appointed by United States Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden to serve as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General; the top aide to the Deputy Attorney General.[14] After Ogden left in February 2010, Monaco was appointed by President Barack Obama to be the Assistant Attorney General for National Security; leading the Justice Department division which oversees major counterterrorism and espionage cases, and authorizes the use of FISA warrants.[15] Monaco has been involved in meetings and the failed attempts to close down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[16][17]

Counterterrorism advisor

On January 25, 2013, President Barack Obama announced he would name Monaco to be his Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the chief counterterrorism advisor to the President.[18] Monaco succeeded John Brennan, who was nominated by Obama to become the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.[19] Monaco took office on March 8, 2013, and became a statutory member of the United States Homeland Security Council.

On May 23, 2013, Daniel Klaidman, writing for the Daily Beast reported a "White House official" confirmed Monaco would "handle day-to-day responsibilities for Guantanamo."[20]

In late July 2014, Monaco answered a question as to whether the mandate to keep Guantanamo open would end when U.S. troops had effectively retired from Guantanamo.[21][22][23][24] Scholars at Lawfare interpreted Monaco's comment as a sign that the Obama Presidency would ask the United States Congress to pass legislation enabling Guantanamo to remain open after U.S. involvement in the Afghan war ended.[citation needed]


  2. The Winsor School (March 8, 2013). "Alumna Selected for Top White House Counterterrorism Post". 
  3. Matt Viser (2013-04-19). "Newton native in key counterterrorism job". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25. Monaco’s parents, Mary Lou and Anthony Monaco, still live in Newton. She attended Winsor School, a prestigious all-girls prep school in Boston known for its “Ivy pipeline.” 
  4. Practising Law Institute. "Lisa O. Monaco U.S. Department of Justice". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  5. Andrew Ramonas (May 5, 2011). "Meet Lisa Monaco". 
  6. University of Maryland (May 1993). "VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN THE RESPONSE TO RAPE: DETOURS ON THE ROAD TO EQUAL JUSTICE Prepared by the Majority Staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Lisa Monaco Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (upon John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director)". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  8. "Posts Tagged ‘National Security Division’Meet Lisa Monaco". May 5, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  9. "Lisa Monaco '97 Nominated Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism". January 28, 2013. 
  10. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (June 28, 2011). "Attorney General Eric Holder Welcomes Confirmation of James Cole, Lisa Monaco and Virginia Seitz". 
  11. Associated Press. "BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON 2 TOP OBAMA AIDES".  Missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  12. "Nomination of James Cole to be Deputy Attorney General". June 28, 2011. 
  13. Federal Bureau of Investigation (March 20, 2007). "Lisa O. Monaco Named Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to FBI Director Mueller". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  14. Charlie Savage (March 17, 2011). "Obama Acts on a Key Vacancy at Justice". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  15. Evan Perez (March 17, 2011). "Obama Nominates New National Security Prosecutor". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  16. Frank James (January 3, 2009). "Congress' Dems Still Irked By Obama On Gitmo, Tribunals". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  17. Dina Temple-Raston (February 3, 2012). "Justice Department Lawyers Play Role In Guantanamo". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  18. Carrie Johnson, Mark Memmott (January 25, 2013). "Obama Names New Chief Of Staff, New Counterterrorism Adviser". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  19. Adam Aigner-Treworgy (January 25, 2013). "Big shoes to fill: Replacing John Brennan". Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  20. Daniel Klaidman (2013-05-23). "All In on Gitmo: Obama Returns to Fight for a Shutdown". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25. Wilner and his allies may soon get some good news. A White House official confirmed to The Daily Beast that Obama has asked his chief counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, to handle the day-to-day responsibilities for Guantanamo. Monaco has daily access to the president and clout within the national-security bureaucracy. She also has deep experience dealing with the Guantanamo conundrum. When she first joined the administration in 2009 as a senior Justice Department official, she worked on Gitmo. 
  21. Robert Chesney, Jack Goldsmith, Matthew Waxman, Benjamin Wittes (2014-07-27). "A New White House Signal on AUMF Reform?". Lawfare. Archived from the original on 2014-07-28. Josh Gerstein of Politico reports that “[a] top White House official suggested Saturday that Congress pass new legislation to support President Barack Obama’s authority to act against an array of terrorist groups not clearly linked to the September 11 attacks.” 
  22. Steve Vladeck (2014-07-28). "Overreading Lisa Monaco on AUMF Reform". Just Security. Archived from the original on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2014-07-28. 
  23. Benjamin Wittes (2014-07-28). "What Lisa Monaco actually said". Lawfare. Archived from the original on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2014-07-28. Over at Just Security, Steve Vladeck objects to the piece Jack, Bobby, Matt and I wrote over the weekend on Lisa Monaco’s AUMF comments at the Aspen Security Forum. 
  24. Josh Gerstein (2014-07-27). Politico Archived from the original on 2014-07-29. Retrieved 2014-07-28.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
John Brennan
Homeland Security Advisor