Remembering Dan Meltzer

By Matthew Olsen
Wednesday, May 27, 2015, 7:53 AM

I want to add briefly to Jack's note and pay tribute to Dan Meltzer, who died Sunday.  I had the privilege of working with Dan when he served as Deputy White Counsel under President Obama and then as a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

Dan tackled head-on some of the most difficult and consequential legal and policy national security issues facing the new Obama administration. He was the point person in the White House on Guantanamo detainees; on the scope of detention authority; on the interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists; and on surveillance issues. Dan approached these questions with a combination of common sense practicality and scholarly rigor and imagination. He was inquisitive and inclusive in considering the views of others. And he always seemed to home in on the crux of a matter, finding new ways to think about and resolve a problem. When we worked together on the review of detainees at Guantanamo, Dan brought a thoughtful and fresh perspective to the issues, applying both his law professor approach and his wise and practical judgment. Beyond this, he was unfailingly kind. Dan was the smartest guy in the room, but never made you feel like he knew it.

As a national security lawyer, Dan is a model for all of us, though it is hard to imagine anyone in the field matching Dan's intellect, dedication, and integrity. As a person, Dan will be remembered for his humility, generosity and grace.

Matthew Olsen is the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center.  He is the co-founder of IronNet Cybersecurity and a lecturer at Harvard Law School.