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Juliette Kayyem

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Juliette Kayyem
Kayyem in 2014
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Intergovernmental Affairs
In office
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyStephanie Tennyson
Preceded byAnne Petera
Succeeded byBetsy Markey
Personal details
Born (1969-08-16) August 16, 1969 (age 54)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseDavid J. Barron
EducationHarvard University (BA, JD)

Juliette N. Kayyem (born August 16, 1969) is an American former government official and author. She is host of the Boston-based radio channel WGBH (FM)'s podcast The SCIF,[1] and has also appeared on CNN and Boston Public Radio, and written columns for The Boston Globe.[2]

Kayyem was formerly Massachusetts' first Undersecretary for Homeland Security, and served as Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration.[3][4] She is also a former candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, and has also held positions as a Belfer Lecturer in International Security at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Kayyem also previously served a senior advisor to the NSO Group, the Israeli tech firm known for the Pegasus spyware tool. In October 2019, Kayyem was made a contributor by the Washington Post – an appointment that was criticized by Citizen Lab in the context of her role at NSO and the criticism led to Kayyem stepping down just days later. In February 2020, Kayyem also left her role at NSO.

Early life and education


Born in Los Angeles to Lebanese parents,[5] Kayyem graduated from Harvard University with her bachelor's degree in 1991 and from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor degree in 1995.[6]





Kayyem began her legal career in 1995 at the Department of Justice, ultimately serving as an advisor to Attorney General Janet Reno until 1999.[7] From 1999 to 2000, Kayyem served as House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt's appointee to the National Commission on Terrorism, a congressionally mandated review of how the government could better prepare for the growing terrorist threat. Chaired by L. Paul Bremer, that commission's recommendations in the year 2000 urged the nation to recognize and adapt to the growing tide of terrorist activity against the United States.[5]

Department of Homeland Security


Kayyem was appointed as Massachusetts' first Undersecretary for Homeland Security by Governor Deval L. Patrick in January 2007,[8] overseeing the National Guard, the commonwealth's strategic security planning, and the distribution of homeland security funds consistent with the Governor's priorities.

On March 5, 2009, United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano appointed Juliette N. Kayyem Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs.[citation needed] On May 7, 2015, United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson appointed Kayyem to the Homeland Security Advisory Committee.[9][10]

2014 Massachusetts gubernatorial candidacy


In July 2013, it was reported that Kayyem was considering a bid for Governor of Massachusetts in the 2014 election.[11] On August 21, 2013, Kayyem officially announced her candidacy.[12] As a candidate, Kayyem endorsed raising the state minimum wage and an earned sick day mandate for workers.[13] In February 2014, it was reported by The Boston Globe that Kayyem failed to vote in either 2009 and 2010. At the time she was living temporarily in Washington, D.C., and did not ask for an absentee ballot for Massachusetts or register to vote in the District of Columbia. When asked about her voting record, Kayyem's spokesman initially stated that Kayyem had registered in the District of Columbia during those years. But records later showed that Kayyem was never registered in Washington. When confronted with this evidence, Kayyem's campaign spokesman stated that Kayyem didn't think she could vote in Massachusetts during the time in Washington.[14] At the state party convention on June 14, 2014, Kayyem failed to receive the 15% of delegate votes required to make the primary ballot.[15]



Since 2001, Kayyem has been a resident scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, serving both as executive director of the Kennedy School's Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness, a terrorism and homeland security research program, and as co-director of Harvard's Long-Term Legal Strategy for Combating Terrorism. She also taught courses on law and national security.[16][2] As of fall 2011, Kayyem has returned to the Kennedy School as a lecturer in public policy. She is a member of the Belfer Center board of directors, and Faculty Co-Chair, Dubai Initiative.

Private sector


Until February 2020, Kayyem was a senior advisor to NSO Group, an Israeli technology firm known for its Pegasus spying tool. The company has been reported to provide spying software that has been used in targeted attacks against human rights activists and journalists in various countries, and played a role in the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.[17][18][19]

In October 2017, Kayyem became the chief executive officer of Massachusetts-based Zemcar, an on-demand and scheduled ridesharing company focused on children and seniors.[20] Zemcar discontinued its rideshare services in December 2018. As of March 2019, Kayyem has been chief executive officer of Grip Mobility, a technology company focused on providing transparency in the rideshare industry.[21]



Named one of CNN/Fortune Magazine's "People to Watch," Kayyem served as an on-air analyst for NBC, MSNBC News, and CNN. Her bi-weekly Boston Globe column is distributed through the New York Times wire service.[citation needed] She was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for her colorful, well reported columns on an array of issues, from women in combat to oil drilling in Alaska."

On October 21, 2019, Kayyem was hired as an opinion contributor by The Washington Post, where Khashoggi worked as a columnist. Observers pointed out the problematic nature of the hire. The director of Citizen Lab, a laboratory that studies human rights abuses and technology told Forbes at the time: "It is a sad day for human rights, a deeply disturbing irony in the wake of Khashoggi’s execution, and a public relations victory for NSO Group, to have the Washington Post hire someone sitting on their advisory board."[22] Kayyem stepped down from her Washington Post role four days later, on October 25.[23] In February 2020, Kayyem stepped down from her role as a senior adviser at NSO.[24]

During the blockade of the Ambassador Bridge by truckers in February 2022, Kayyem was accused of promoting vigilantism when she tweeted "The Ambassador Bridge link constitutes 28% of annual trade movement between US and Canada. Slash the tires, empty gas tanks, arrest the drivers, and move the trucks." Addressing the criticism, she denied the accusation, saying, "People have the freedom to protest. Governments have the responsibility to protect public safety. That was what I intended to say."[25]

During the moments following the events of 07/13/2024, Kayyem on CNN states “Donald Trump and the people around him perceive themselves to be under threat and that’s all that matters. That is -that is not legitimate. That is wrong… umm… you hear the screams from the audience. People are - uh - are terrorized.”

Personal life


She is married to David J. Barron, a judge on the First Circuit Court of Appeals.[26] She served on the advisory board of the Qatari-government financed International Centre for Sport Security.[27]

Selected work



  • Kayyem, Juliette N.; Pangi, Robyn L. (September 2003). First to Arrive: State and Local Responses to Terrorism (with Robyn L. Pangi). ISBN 0-262-11281-7. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  • Heymann, Philip B.; Kayyem, Juliette N. (September 2005). Protecting Liberty in an Age of Terror (with Philip Benjamin Heymann). ISBN 0-262-08343-4. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  • Kayyem, Juliette (April 2016). Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Your Home and Our Homeland. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1476733746.
  • Kayyem, Juliette (March 2022). The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters. ISBN 9781541700109. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)

See also



  1. ^ "The SCIF". WGBH News.
  2. ^ a b Miller, Joshua (August 21, 2013). "Juliette Kayyem, former Homeland Security official, announces run for Mass. governor". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
  3. ^ "Kayyem Biography". hks.harvard.edu.
  4. ^ "Kayyem c.v." (PDF). hks.harvard.edu.
  5. ^ a b "Building Capabilities: The Intelligence Community's National Security Requirement for Diversity of Language Skills and Ethnic and Cultural Understanding". Harvard - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Archived from the original on August 4, 2011. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
  6. ^ "The only "first" that matters to Juliette Kayyem '95 is our first line of defense". Harvard Law School. The President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  7. ^ "Kayyem appointed to post in Department of Homeland Security". Alumni Focus|Harvard Law Today. Harvard Law School. March 9, 2009.
  8. ^ "Kayyem Named as Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental Programs". dhs.gov.
  9. ^ "DHS Announces Appointment Of New Members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council". Department of Homeland Security. May 7, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  10. ^ "Homeland Security Advisory Committee (current membership)". DHS. Archived from the original on October 13, 2015.
  11. ^ Burns, Alexander (July 9, 2013). "Kayyem looks at Mass. governor race". POLITICO. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  12. ^ Bernstein, David S. (August 21, 2013). "Juliette Kayyem Is Running for Governor of Massachusetts". Boston Magazine. Archived from the original on January 16, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  13. ^ LeBlanc, Steve (March 29, 2014). "Kayyem hopes to beat odds to become Mass. governor". Associated Press. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  14. ^ Editorial (February 21, 2014). "Juliette Kayyem: Better to just fess up and move on". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 25, 2014.
  15. ^ Miller, Joshua; Johnson, Akilah (June 19, 2014). "Kayyem, Avellone fail to qualify for gubernatorial primary". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  16. ^ Belfer Center's listing of articles on their website concerning Juliette N. Kayyem
  17. ^ "Activists and journalists in Mexico complain of government spying". Reuters. June 20, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  18. ^ Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo (August 25, 2016). "Government Hackers Caught Using Unprecedented iPhone Spy Tool". Vice. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  19. ^ "Israeli firm won't say if it sold Saudis spyware linked to Khashoggi killing". Axios. March 25, 2019. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  20. ^ Leung, Shirley (October 10, 2017). "Juliette Kayyem's new security challenge: Transporting kids". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  21. ^ Gonzalez, Guadalupe (2019). "Grip Mobility|Juliette Kayyem". 2019 Female Founders 100. Inc.
  22. ^ Brewster, Thomas. "It's A Sad Day For Human Rights | Washington Post Slammed For Its Latest Columnist Hire". Forbes. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  23. ^ Kayyem, Juliette (October 25, 2019). "A statement from me". @juliettekayyem. Retrieved December 18, 2019 – via twitter.com.
  24. ^ "Ex-Obama official exits Israeli spyware firm amid press freedom row". The Guardian.
  25. ^ Sheets, Megan. "CNN analyst walks back call for 'vigilante' crackdown on Canada trucker blockade amid social media outrage". Independent. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  26. ^ "David J. Barron". United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  27. ^ Hosenball, Mark; Rosenberg, Mica (June 23, 2015). "Qatar group to push sports integrity in U.S. even as World Cup award faces probes". Reuters. One ICSS advisory board member Juliette Kayyem, who worked as an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security in President Barack Obama's first term, said she didn't see any reasons for concern, noting that the ICSS was doing good work in examining how to keep massive sporting events safe