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Juliette Kayyem

Mailing address

Littauer P-16
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Mailbox 53
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Juliette Kayyem

Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Telephone: 617-496-6743
Fax: 617-495-8963



Juliette N. Kayyem, the national security and foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe and on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School, has spent nearly fifteen years in counterterrorism, homeland security, and emergency management arena. She most recently served for President Barack Obama as Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As Assistant Secretary, Ms. Kayyem was responsible for coordinated and consistent planning between the Department and all of its state, local, tribal, and territorial partners on issues as varied as immigration, intelligence sharing, military affairs, border security, and the response to operational events such as the H1N1 influenza outbreak, the December 25th attempted terrorist attack, the Haiti earthquake, and the BP oil spill. In this capacity, she also served as the co-chair of the congressionally mandated Preparedness Task Force and  a member of President Obama's Task Force on Puerto Rico and the Defense Department's Council of Governors. She also managed the security efforts surrounding major sporting events, including the Chicago Olympic bid, the Vancouver Olympics, the Caribbean Games, and the World Equestrian Games.  She was the most senior Arab-American female appointee in the Obama Administration

In the immediate aftermath of the BP oil spill, Ms. Kayyem was tasked to direct interagency and intergovernmental affairs for the National Incident Command, overseeing a diverse interagency and interdisciplinary staff for the White House and DHS to address unprecedented issues in the response, including public safety, public engagement, environmental remediation, and legal compliance. For her work, she received the Coast Guard's highest civilian honor.

Before joining the Obama Administration, she served as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's homeland security advisor, overseeing the National Guard, the Commonwealth's strategic security planning, and the distribution of homeland security funds consistent with the Governor's priorities. Prior to that, she was a lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, serving also as co-chair of the Dubai Initiative and as Executive Director of the School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. A lawyer by training, she began her legal career in 1995 at the Department of Justice, ultimately serving as an advisor to then Attorney General Janet Reno until 1999.

Ms. Kayyem was a congressional appointee to the National Commission on Terrorism which, in early summer 2001, highlighted major gaps in planning and preparation for a possible terrorist attack.  She is the co-author of the critically acclaimed Preserving Liberty in an Age of Terror (2005, with Phil Heymann) as well as the author and editor of numerous books and articles, including First to Arrive: State and Local Responses to Terrorism (2003).  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Until she re-entered public service, Ms. Kayyem served as an on air analyst for NBC and MSNBC News.

Named a CNN/Fortune Magazine's People to Watch, her column is distributed through the New York Times wire service.  A graduate of Harvard College and Law School, she is married to David Barron, a Harvard Law Professor, and has three children.



By Date



Loavesofbread CC

August 20, 2014

"Bad Policy, Bad Policing"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"Dual-use has the benefit of being both efficient and effective. The firefighter who shows up at a burning building does not wonder, at that moment, whether an arsonist or a careless cigarette smoker is to blame. She just wants to put the fire out. The medics at the Boston Marathon finish line had no idea whether the carnage came from a terrorist attack or a gas explosion. They just implemented their well-honed plans for treating a sudden surge in injuries."



April 15, 2014

"Would Better Data Have Helped?"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Ed Davis and Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"For government to function effectively in the future, it must commit to changes in how we assess information. The primary focus should be on more comprehensive training for public employees on how to gather and most effectively access the information they need. Often there are antiquated and bureaucratic barriers to information sharing that serve no purpose and hinder the capacity of government to interpret different pieces of data from different sources."



USMA Photo

May 27, 2013

"The VA's Generational Problem"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"The media-savvy, talking-point-hungry, Twitter-obsessed, Facebook-friending world that Shinseki is part of now doesn't interest him. Shinseki's reticence has its quaint appeal, but it doesn't represent the attitude of newer veterans, the 2.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. More mobile, technological, opinionated, and media-friendly, these veterans aren't particularly tolerant of the problems the VA faces today."



May 23, 2013

"A Rainy Day Fund Doesn't Work if It's Always Raining"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"...[G]overnment can also promote the freedom from harm. Past experiences in Oklahoma are illustrative. The state, no stranger to tornadoes, does not legally require safe rooms or underground shelters. Indeed, after a similar massive tornado struck Moore in 1999, disaster funds were focused solely on helping homeowners to rebuild what they lost; houses were constructed in exactly the same manner as before."




May 20, 2013

"The Art of Warfare"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"...World War II's Ghost Army, a unit of handpicked G.I.s whose sole function was to deceive the Germans about the strength of America's military presence. Using rubber tanks, sound effects, and illusions of manpower, this group of young magicians tricked the Germans into believing they knew America's true plans."



AP Photo

May 16, 2013

"A Seat at the Arctic Table"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"...[T]he Arctic Council agreed to let nations that, at last look at the map, are not located anywhere near the Arctic, join as observers. It may seem a diplomatic nicety, but it is the recognition that the Arctic Council nations no longer have a monopoly on the region. China, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Singapore are on a hunt for more energy and have their eyes on the waning polar ice caps."



May 15, 2013

"Critics Quick to Attack Obama Administration, but its Inquiry into AP Was Justified"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"...[T]he leak wasn't just an inside-the-Beltway jab at political enemies, and the story that resulted wasn't about infighting in the national security staff. The information cut to the heart of how America fights its enemies and the resources it uses to do so. An agent of ours had infiltrated a terrorist cell. He is no longer in the inner circle. The leaker may be to blame. And the investigation that has everyone up in arms was completely justified."



May 13, 2013

"Pentagon's Sexual Assault Conundrum"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"...[T]he only real solution will come with the complete integration of women into an armed services that has, for too long, treated them as second-class citizens. Sexual misconduct is a symptom, not a cause, of an institutional culture built around rules prohibiting women from equal status."



May 9, 2013

"Tragedy's Cold Calculations"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"it became obvious that the public hearing wasn't just a chance for victims and their relatives to ask questions. It was a chance for Feinberg to lower their expectations, and warn them about what victim compensation can and can't do: They will never truly be 'made whole' again."



May 6, 2013

"Killing without a Script"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy (on Leave)

"No society as open as ours can promise perfect security. Thus, it makes sense that a strategy that resigns itself to some form of terrorism in our modern age would, naturally, concentrate on making sure that those who do harm us are stupid, disorganized, rushed, and fickle. Their violence is smaller scale and therefore more manageable, made even more so by the efforts of well-trained first responders."



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