Michael J. Morell

Photo of Michael J. Morell
Titles and Organizations

Distinguished Visiting Professor, Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security

Contact Information

Mason Square, Van Metre Hall, Room 623
3351 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
MSN: 3B1


Michael Morell, a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Michael Hayden Center at George Mason University, is the former acting director and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

As one of the nation’s leading national security professionals with extensive experience in intelligence and foreign policy, he has been at the center of the U.S. fight against terrorism, its work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and its efforts to respond to trends that are altering the international landscape—including the rise of China, a revanchist Russia, and the cyber threat. 

During his 33-year CIA career, Morell served as deputy director for three and a half years, a job in which he managed the agency’s day-to-day operations and analysis, represented the agency at the White House and Congress, and maintained the agency’s relationships with intelligence services and foreign leaders around the world. He also served twice as acting director, leading the CIA when Leon Panetta was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and again after David Petraeus left government.

Morell’s senior assignments at the CIA also included serving for two years as the director of intelligence, the agency’s top analyst, and for two years as executive director, the CIA’s top administrator—managing human resources, the budget, security, and information technology for an agency the size of a Fortune 200 firm.

A witness to history on multiple occasions, Morell is the only person who was both with President Bush on September 11, and with President Obama on May 1, when Bin Laden was brought to justice.

He served as a member of President Obama’s 2013 Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology and as a member on the 2018 Commission on the National Defense Strategy, a commission appointed by Congress to help it understand the nation’s defense needs. Morell is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Economic Association.

He is the author of the 2015 New York Times bestseller on the CIA’s nearly 20-year fight against al Qa`ida, The Great War of Our Time: An Insider’s Account of the CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From al Qa`ida to ISIS.

Much of what Morell does today is tied to educating the country on national security. He is a senior national security contributor for CBS News and the host of a CBS News popular podcast and national radio program on national security called “Intelligence Matters.” He has lectured on national security at the University of Chicago, Stanford, Dartmouth, Harvard, Brown, Princeton, West Point, the Army War College, and George Mason University.

The recipient of many awards, Morell has received the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional performance – the nation’s highest honor for civilian service. He also received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s highest award, for his role in the Bin Ladin operation. Morell is also the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and the Department of Defense Service Medal.

Morell serves on the Honorary Board of Directors at the International Spy Museum. He is a board member of the Fortress Investment Group, Orbis Operations, Presage Security, and the Atlantic Council, as well as senior counselor and global chairman of the geopolitical risk practice at Beacon Global Strategies. He also advises several private sector entities. Morell is also a member of the Advisory Boards to the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, the Alliance for Securing Democracy program at the German-Marshall Fund, and American Media Abroad.

Previously, he served on the boards of the CIA Officers Memorial Fund and the National Intelligence University Foundation. He and his wife also sponsor a class a Washington, D.C. Charter School.  

Morell earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Akron and a master’s degree in economics from Georgetown University.