Counterterrorism Experts to Speak at Duke

Two leading counterterrorism experts from the Bush and Obama administrations will discuss the terrorist threats facing the nation on Sept. 10 at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.

Former assistant to President G.W. Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Fran Townsend and Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, former coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, will discuss “The Evolving Terrorist Threat: What Should Be
Done?” The event – which is a Robert R. Wilson Lecture – begins at 5 p.m. in the Fleishman Commons.  It is free and open to the public.

David Schanzer, associate professor of the practice of public policy and director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, will moderate the discussion.

“With the recent advance of ISIS and the spread of al Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East and North Africa, this will be a timely discussion with two of our nation’s top counterterrorism experts,” he said.

Benjamin is the director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College. He was principal advisor on counterterrorism to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has been a senior fellow of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institute and served on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration. His essays have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time and other outlets and he has been a guest on programs such as 60 Minutes, Frontline and The News Hour.

Townsend served as chair of the Homeland Security Council from 2004 until January 2008. She was also deputy national security advisor for combatting terrorism in 2003 and 2004. She is a contributor to CNN and regularly appears on television news as a counterterrorism and national security expert. Prior to her work in the Bush administration, she was the first assistant commandant for intelligence for the U.S. Coast Guard, and served 13 years in the U.S. Department of Justice in several senior positions.

Parking for the event will be available in the Science Drive Visitors lot. Those unable to attend can watch a live stream online at

The event is co-sponsored by the Sanford School, Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, Duke Program in American Grand Strategy and the Triangle Institute for Security Studies.