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Cofer Black on Leadership Lessons Learned and Speaking Truth to Power

In this OODAcast, we talk with renowned counter-terrorism expert and career clandestine services professional Cofer Black. Cofer is best known for having been the Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center on 9/11 and having been part of the intelligence community warning about the near-term threat of terrorism in the United States prior to the attacks. However, his pedigree in counterterrorism issues was well established with a distinguished career in the field in high-risk areas and operations.

During our discussion Cofer provides insight on a variety of issues including:

  • How his childhood experiences traveling around Africa equipped him for the clandestine services.
  • What it was like to be tracking al Qaeda prior to 9/11.
  • How AQ planned to assassinate him during a high risk tour of duty overseas.
  • How to speak truth to power and what he learned trying to provide early warning prior to 9/11.
  • Lessons learned on leadership from a career in the intelligence community and private sector

Podcast Version:


Cofer’s Full Bio:

Ambassador Black has had a distinguished 28-year career in the Directorate of Operations at the Central Intelligence Agency including serving as the Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In this capacity he served as the CIA Director’s Special Assistant for Counterterrorism as well as the National Intelligence Officer for Counterterrorism. Ambassador Black was also appointed as the first State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism with the designation of Ambassador at Large.

During his CIA career, Ambassador Black served six foreign tours in field management positions. In 1995, Ambassador Black was named the Task Force Chief in the Near East and South Asia Division. From June 1998 through June 1999 he served as the Deputy Chief of the Latin America Division.

After his government service, Ambassador Black transitioned to the private sector and served as Vice President for Global Operations at Blackbird Raytheon Technologies and as Vice Chairman of Blackwater Worldwide and as Chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions.

In addition to numerous exceptional performance awards and meritorious citations, Ambassador Black received the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the George H. Bush Medal for Excellence, and the Exceptional Collector Award for 1994.

Matt Devost

Matt Devost

Matthew G. Devost is the CEO & Co-Founder of OODA LLC. Matt is a technologist, entrepreneur, and international security expert specializing in counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, intelligence, risk management and cyber-security issues. Matt co-founded the cyber security consultancy FusionX from 2010-2017. Matt was President & CEO of the Terrorism Research Center/Total Intel from 1996-2009. For a full bio, please see