Marc Thiessen

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Marc Thiessen
Marc Thiessen in 2007.jpg
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
EducationVassar College (BA)
Naval War College

Marc Alexander Thiessen (born January 13, 1967) is an American conservative author and weekly columnist for The Washington Post newspaper.

Thiessen served as a speechwriter for United States President George W. Bush (2004–09) and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2001–06).[1] His 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. In 2010, his first book, Courting Disaster was published, which defended the use of torture during 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 graduate studies at the Naval War College.[1]


Thiessen with President George W. Bush, William McGurn, and Christopher Michel in 2007

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]

Courting Disaster[edit]

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 CIA's systematic use of torture,[9][10] euphemistically referred to as "enhanced interrogation techniques", was effective, lawful, and moral.[11] The book was endorsed by the former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.[12] It reached the No. 9 spot on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover nonfiction in February 2010.[13]

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".[14]

The 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture found that the CIA's torture program was not an effective method of gathering intelligence.

A pseudonymous 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" and criticized Thiessen for relying solely on the opinions of CIA interrogators.[15]

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.[16]


  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 Frank, Tom (Summer 2005). "Heard But Not Seen" (PDF). Taft School Bulletin. Taft School. p. 22–25. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 23, 2011.
  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". Politico. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Thiessen, Marc A. (April 21, 2009). "Marc A. Thiessen - Enhanced Interrogations Worked". ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  9. ^ "Obama names intel picks, vows no torture". Associated Press. January 9, 2009.
  10. ^ Stout, David (January 15, 2009). "Holder Tells Senators Waterboarding is Torture". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Book details: Courting Disaster". Regnery. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  12. ^ Thiessen, Marc (January 20, 2010). "Mukasey Calls Courting Disaster 'Absolutely Superb'". National Review. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  13. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction Books - Best Sellers - February 14, 2010". The New York Times. February 14, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  14. ^ Mayer, Jane (March 29, 2010). "Counterfactual: A curious history of the C.I.A." The New Yorker. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  15. ^ Alexander, Matthew (March 3, 2010). "Courting Fear". Slate. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  16. ^ "Marc Thiessen Biography". Retrieved May 13, 2018.

External links[edit]