Marc Thiessen

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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
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byWilliam McGurn
Succeeded byJon Favreau
Personal details
Marc Alexander Thiessen

(1967-01-13) January 13, 1967 (age 52)
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Pamela Thiessen
Alma materVassar College

Marc Alexander Thiessen (born January 13, 1967) is an American conservative 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).[1]

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 Torture Memos and "enhanced interrogation methods" used by the CIA under the George W. Bush administration.

Early life and education[edit]

Thiessen was born on January 13, 1967.[2] 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][3] His mother grew up in Poland and fought as a teenager in the Warsaw Uprising, a military struggle in which his grandfather died.[3]

Thiessen is a graduate of the Taft School (1985), a private prep school in Connecticut.[citation needed]

He graduated from Vassar College (BA in 1989) and completed post-graduate studies at the Naval War College.[1]


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 founded the communications firm, 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.

Thiessen currently serves as a resident fellow with the American Enterprise Institute.[1]


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 were later characterized as torture,[9] are not torture by any reasonable legal or moral standard and "were not only effective, but lawful and morally just".[10] The book was endorsed by the former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.[11] It reached the No. 9 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover nonfiction in February 2010.[12]

Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, heavily criticized Courting Disaster in a book review, claiming it is "based on a series of slipshod premises".[13] 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".[13]

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."[14]

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".[15]

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.[16]

Personal life[edit]

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.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Marc A. Thiessen | Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  2. ^ U.S. Public Records Index, Vols. 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Operations, Inc.), 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Heard But Not Seen" by Tom Frank, Taft School Bulletin, Summer 2005, pp22-25
  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. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Book details: Courting Disaster". Regnery.
  11. ^ Marc Thiessen, Mukasey Calls Courting Disaster 'Absolutely Superb'[permanent dead link], National Review, January 20, 2010.
  12. ^ Web page titled "Best Sellers / Hardcover Nonfiction", February 5, 2010, New York Times website, retrieved April 20, 2010
  13. ^ a b Mayer, Jane (March 29, 2010). "A curious history of the C.I.A." The New Yorker.
  14. ^ Thiessen, Marc, "Jane Mayer's Disaster" Archived 2010-04-18 at the Wayback Machine., National Review Online, April 14, 2010; retrieved April 20, 2010.
  15. ^ Alexander, Matthew (February 27, 2010). "Courting Fear". Slate.
  16. ^ "The Daily Show". Comedy Central.
  17. ^ "Marc Thiessen Biography". Retrieved May 13, 2018.

External links[edit]