Off-the-Record with former National Security Advisor Kenneth Wainstein

On June 12th, Partnership for a Secure America held an off-the-record dinner for participants in the Congressional Partnership Program with former Homeland Security Advisor Kenneth Wainstein to discuss today’s homeland security challenges including cyber threats and the spread of terrorism.


Kenneth Wainstein

Kenneth L. WainsteinKen Wainstein is Co-Chair of Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft’s Global Litigation Group, Chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations Group and a member of the firm’s Management Committee.  With experience in significant positions in the U.S. government in the areas of criminal enforcement and national security, he brings a deep understanding of the substantive and procedural issues involved in white collar defense. His 20 years of public service have garnered him an intimate knowledge of Justice Department policy, extensive crisis management skills, credibility among prosecutors and regulators, and strong relationships with Congress, the District of Columbia bench and bar and U.S. Attorneys around the country.

In 2008, after 19 years at the Justice Department, Ken was named Homeland Security Advisor by President George W. Bush. In this capacity, he coordinated the nation’s counterterrorism, homeland security, infrastructure protection, and disaster response and recovery efforts. He advised the President, convened and chaired meetings of the Cabinet Officers on the Homeland Security Council, and oversaw the inter-agency coordination process for homeland security and counterterrorism programs.

Prior to his White House service, Ken was twice nominated and confirmed for leadership positions in the Justice Department. In 2006, the U.S. Senate confirmed Ken as the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security. In that position, Ken established and led the new National Security Division, which consolidated DOJ’s law enforcement and intelligence activities on counterterrorism and counterintelligence matters, and also oversaw the Department’s role in regulatory mechanisms such as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). Ken led several national security initiatives, including the launch of the national, inter-agency Export Control Enforcement Initiative targeting illegal exports of sensitive technology and weapons components.

In 2004, he was appointed, and later confirmed as, the United States Attorney in Washington, DC, where he managed the largest U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country and oversaw a number of high-profile white-collar and public corruption cases.  Prior to that, Ken served as General Counsel of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and then as Chief of Staff to Director Robert Mueller. At the FBI, Ken was involved in myriad sensitive national security and criminal enforcement matters, as well as a variety of civil litigation, managerial, and Congressional oversight issues. In 2001, Ken was appointed Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, where he provided oversight and support to the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.

From 1989 to 2001, Ken served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in both the Southern District of New York and the District of Columbia, where he handled numerous criminal trials and appellate arguments.

Ken’s work has been recognized with the Edmund J. Randolph Award for Outstanding Service to the Department of Justice, the Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance, and the Lawyer of the Year Award from the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and he was recently named as a top national security lawyer by Washingtonian magazine and as a Washington, D.C., Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation.

Ken has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center since 2009, teaching National Security Investigations and Litigation. He is a Panel Member of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense; a member of the Director’s Advisory Board of the National Counterterrorism Center; a member of the Public Interest Declassification Board; a member of the CIA General Counsel’s External Advisory Board; chairman of the Legal Panel of the National Security Agency Advisory Board; a member of the Webster Commission on the FBI, Counterterrorism Intelligence, and the Fort Hood Shootings; co-chair of the Committee on National Security Law, Policy & Practice of the District of Columbia Bar Association; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at the George Washington University; a member of the Security Advisory Board of Alclear, LLC (d.b.a. CLEAR); and a member of the Board of Directors of Burke & Herbert Bank in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ken earned his B.A. from the University of Virginia, with high distinction and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his J.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a moot court board member and the Note and Comment Editor of the California Law Review. Following law school, Ken served as law clerk to the Honorable Thomas Penfield Jackson of the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.