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Marc Thiessen

Marc Thiessen
Marc Thiessen in 2007.jpg
Thiessen helps prepare President George W. Bush's speech on the Iraq War on September 13, 2007.
White House Director of Speechwriting
In office
February 2008 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Preceded by William McGurn
Succeeded by Jon Favreau
Personal details
Born Marc Alexander Thiessen
(1967-01-13) January 13, 1967 (age 51)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Pamela Thiessen
Children 4
Alma mater Vassar College

Marc Alexander Thiessen (1967) is an American Republican author, columnist and political commentator. He served as a speechwriter for United States President George W. Bush (2004–09) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2001–06).

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. His one book is a defense of the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA under the George W. Bush administration.

Early life and education

Thiessen was born on January 13, 1967.[1] He grew up on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, where both his parents were doctors and "left-of-center liberal Democrat types".[attribution needed][2] His mother grew up in Poland and fought as a teenager in the Warsaw Uprising, a military struggle in which his grandfather died.[2]

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.[3]


Thiessen has worked in Washington, D.C., for many years, starting with five years at Lobbying firm 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).[4][5]

He joined the George W. Bush administration as Chief Speechwriter for Donald Rumsfeld in 2001, then moved to Bush's speechwriting team in 2004.[4] In February 2008, he became chief speechwriter when William McGurn resigned.[6]

In March 2009, Thiessen and Peter Schweizer opened Oval Office Writers LLC.[7]

Since 2009, Thiessen has been a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.[8] He is also a columnist for The Washington Post, starting March 2010.

In 2012, the Government Accountability Institute published a report about President Barack Obama's President's Daily Briefs. The report consisted of three pages: an executive summary, and a two-page table with monthly tallies of how many times the daily briefing appeared on the President's calendar according to the government website The report concluded that Obama only attended 42.09% of his daily briefings.[9]

Thiessen penned a column in The Washington Post titled "Why is Obama skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings?",[10] which yielded a flood of media coverage and an attack ad from American Crossroads.[citation needed]

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".[11] Thiessen responded to this report, giving "Four Pinocchios" to the fact-checker.[12]


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,[13] are not torture by any reasonable legal or moral standard and "were not only effective, but lawful and morally just".[14] The book was endorsed by the former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.[15] It reached the No. 9 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover nonfiction in February 2010.[16]

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,[17] heavily criticized Courting Disaster in a book review, claiming it is "based on a series of slipshod premises".[18] 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".[18]

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."[19]

An anonymous former military interrogator and author of How to Break a Terrorist, writing for Slate, characterized Thiessen's book as "a literary defense of war criminals".[20]

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.[21]

Personal life

Thiessen lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife Pamela, who is currently the Staff Director of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, and their four children.[22]


  1. ^ U.S. Public Records Index, Vols. 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.), 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Heard But Not Seen" by Tom Frank, Taft School Bulletin, Summer 2005, pp22-25
  3. ^ Marc A. Thiessen | AEI Scholar, American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Marc A. Thiessen". Oval Office Writers, LLC. 
  5. ^ Saletan, William (August 8, 1997). "Weld vs. Helms". Slate. Retrieved June 22, 2018. 
  6. ^ "President Bush Thanks Bill McGurn, Announces Marc Thiessen as New Assistant to the President for Speechwriting". Press Release. George W. Bush White House. December 14, 2007. 
  7. ^ Alexovich, Ariel; Klingebiel, Jacqueline (March 25, 2009). "Suite Talk March 25, 2009: Speechwriters Open New Outlet". The Politico. 
  8. ^ Thiessen, Marc A. (2009-04-21). "Marc A. Thiessen - Enhanced Interrogations Worked". ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-09-29. 
  9. ^ Schweizer, Peter. "Report Update: Presidential Daily Briefings: A Time-Based Analysis", Government Accountability Institute, September 30, 2014; accessed: April 24, 2015.
  10. ^ Thiessen, Marc A. "Why is Obama skipping more than half of his daily intelligence meetings?", The Washington Post, September 10, 2012; accessed: April 24, 2012.
  11. ^ Kessler, Glenn. "The bogus claim that Obama ‘skips’ his intelligence briefings", The Washington Post, September 24, 2012; accessed: April 24, 2015.
  12. ^ Thiessen, Marc A. "A bogus defense of Obama's intelligence briefing record", The Washington Post, September 25, 2012; accessed May 22, 2015.
  13. ^ MSNBC Report of Obama speech describing techniques used at Guantanamo as torture MSNBC 1/9/2009; Stout, David, Holder Tells Senators Waterboarding is Torture New York Times January 15, 2009.
  14. ^ "Book details: Courting Disaster". Regnery. 
  15. ^ Marc Thiessen, Mukasey Calls Courting Disaster 'Absolutely Superb'[permanent dead link], National Review, January 20, 2010.
  16. ^ Web page titled "Best Sellers / Hardcover Nonfiction", February 5, 2010, New York Times website, retrieved April 20, 2010
  17. ^ Courting Disaster, chapter 2
  18. ^ a b Mayer, Jane (March 29, 2010). "A curious history of the C.I.A." The New Yorker. 
  19. ^ Thiessen, Marc, "Jane Mayer's Disaster" Archived 2010-04-18 at the Wayback Machine., National Review Online, April 14, 2010; retrieved April 20, 2010.
  20. ^ Alexander, Matthew (February 27, 2010). "Courting Fear". Slate. 
  21. ^ "The Daily Show". Comedy Central. 
  22. ^ "Marc Thiessen Biography". Retrieved May 13, 2018. 

External links