Saturday, May 15, 2021

Biden Appoints Former Palestinian UNRWA Official as Director of NSC Intelligence

Biden Appoints Former Palestinian UNRWA Official as Director of NSC Intelligence

Real diversity with no exemption: President Joe Biden on Friday appointed Palestinian-American attorney Maher al-Bitar, who served on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council as Director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs and as deputy to Samantha Power, to be the new director of the NSC intelligence service.

Al-Bitar’s new job is an important day-to-day connective tissue between the intelligence community and the White House.

A graduate of Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, al-Bitar received a Master of Science in Forced Migration from Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Center on a Marshall scholarship and has worked with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jerusalem.

Maher al-Bitar has served as Foreign Affairs Officer in the Office of the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, and holds a Juris Doctor from Georgetown Law, and is a member of the Maryland Bar. He was Rep. Adam Schiff’s top legal adviser and played a key role in the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump, alongside Dan Goldman who worked as the impeachment manager’s top lawyer. Goldman called al-Bitar “a brilliant lawyer.”

Schiff told Politico al-Bitar was a “superb choice” for the NSC job, with an “extraordinary” breadth of talent and expertise when it comes to the intelligence community and the challenges it faces after being “battered” by Trump for four years. “I can’t think of anyone more suited to the role than Maher,” Schiff said.

Robert Malley, who is expected to be appointed President Biden’s special envoy to Iran, tweeted: “Can’t think of a better choice than Maher. The most professional, principled, dedicated public servant I’ve had the honor to work with, a wonderful colleague, and a dear friend.”

Ziad Asali, the founder of the American Task Force on Palestine, tweeted: “Agree. Maher Bitar is a dedicated public servant who had the talent and the skills to rise up the ranks both at NSC and Congress. His career provides a roadmap to success for motivated young people to follow. An eternal learner and #hardest worker who plays fair.”

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