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|White House Director of Speechwriting|
February 2008 – January 20, 2009
|President||George W. Bush|
|Preceded by||William McGurn|
|Succeeded by||Jon Favreau|
|Born||Marc Alexander Thiessen
January 13, 1967
|Alma mater||Taft School|
Marc Alexander Thiessen (1967) is an American author, columnist and political commentator. He served as a speechwriter for United States President George W. Bush (2004–2009) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2001–2004). Thiessen's articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Weekly Standard, USA Today and other publications. He has also appeared on Fox News, CNN, NPR, and other media outlets.
Thiessen was born on January 13, 1967. He grew up on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, where both his parents were doctors and "left-of-center liberal Democrat types." His mother grew up in Poland and fought as a teenager in the Warsaw Uprising, a military struggle in which his grandfather died.
Thiessen is a graduate of the Taft School (1985), a private prep school in Connecticut. He graduated from Vassar College (BA in 1989) and completed post-graduate studies at the Naval War College.
Thiessen has worked in Washington for many years, starting with five years at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. He spent six years (1995–2001) on Capitol Hill as spokesman and senior policy advisor to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC).[better source needed]
He joined the Bush administration as Chief Speechwriter for Donald Rumsfeld in 2001, then moved to Bush's speechwriting team in 2004. In February 2008, he became chief speechwriter when William McGurn resigned.
In 2012, the Government Accountability Institute authored a report about President Obama's daily briefs. The report consisted of three pages: an executive summary, and a 2-page table with monthly tallies of how many times the daily briefing appeared on the President's calendar according to www.whitehouse.gov. The report concluded that Obama only attended 42.09% of his daily briefings. Thiessen penned a column in The Washington Post titled "Why is Obama skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings?", which yielded a flood of media coverage and an attack ad from American Crossroads. Two weeks later, a correspondent at The Washington Post fact-checked the charge that Obama skipped more than half of his daily briefings and assigned it "Three Pinocchios". Thiessen responded to this report, giving "Four Pinocchios" to the fact-checker.
Thiessen's first book, Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack (ISBN 1596986034), was published by Regnery Publishing in January 2010. In the book he argued that the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA, which the Obama administration has characterized as torture, are not torture by any reasonable legal or moral standard and "were not only effective, but lawful and morally just". The book was endorsed by the former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey. It reached the No. 9 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover nonfiction in February 2010.
Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, a book which Thiessen says has fundamental errors of fact, heavily criticized Courting Disaster in a book review, claiming it is "based on a series of slipshod premises." In a long response, Thiessen defended the accuracy of his book and said Mayer's review contained many factual errors and omissions. For example, Mayer quoted the head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism branch in 2006 as saying that Thiessen's account of the Heathrow plot is "completely and utterly wrong"; in reply Thiessen quoted a former senior CIA official as saying that the CIA liaises only with MI6 and MI5, so the Scotland Yard official "would have no way of knowing what intelligence the CIA shared with MI6 or MI5, much less the ultimate source of that intelligence". Thiessen added, "The week her article appeared in The New Yorker, former CIA director Mike Hayden handed it out in his class at George Mason University's School of Public Policy as an example of all that is wrong with intelligence journalism today."
Thiessen's promotional tour for Courting Disaster included interviews with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, and an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, an uncut version of which was posted online.