Michael E. Leiter, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center in the United States, will resign on July 8 after close to four years in the position.
The resignation comes at a time when counterterrorism has begun to focus more on detecting and thwarting smaller and more diverse plots and Leiter leaves as an updated counterterrorism strategy that he contributed to will be released by the White House, The New York Times reports.
Leiter oversaw 1,000 specialists from over a dozen federal agencies in the center, which was created in 2004. Leiter was one of the few senior national security officials from the Bush administration that President Obama had kept on.
“Mike has been a trusted adviser 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,” Obama said Thursday in a statement, according to The New York Times.
Advocates credited Leiter with instilling the agency with strong organization and leadership. Critics cited an incident in which the center and other agencies missed clear warning signs that a 23-year-old Nigerian man was plotting to blow up a Detroit-bound commercial airliner on Dec. 25, 2009.
Leiter, newly remarried, said he was stepping down for personal reasons and to give his successor a chance to "bring fresh eyes to the problems we face," according to The New York Times.
Leiter graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School and served six years in the Navy in between college and law school. He served as a clerk with the Supreme Court for Justice Stephen Breyer and later became a lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague. Leiter became deputy at the National Counterterrorism Center in 2007 before becoming the director later that year.
“We’ll do more to defeat the enemy by not overreacting to the inevitable act of terrorism," Leiter said on Thursday, The New York Times reports.