John Pistole

Former Deputy Director of the FBI and Former Head of the TSA
John Pistole
  • 26 year veteran of the FBI and former head of the Transportation Security Agency
  • Created the “Trusted Traveler” pre-check system, increasing efficiency and saving the Treasury $100 million
  • Received awards for outstanding professionalism and exemplary integrity for his work after 9/11
  • Shares insider stories and behind-the-scenes insights into what it takes to keep America safe

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John Pistole has led a life dedicated to keeping our country safe. A counterterrorism and homeland security expert, he is a 26-year veteran of the FBI, rising to become the bureau’s deputy director. He led or was involved in several high-profile investigations, including the attempted car bombing in Times Square in 2010, the 2009 attempted attack on Northwest Flight 253, the plot against New York City subways in 2009, the 2006 UK liquid explosives plot, the 2005 London Tube bombings, and more. He left the FBI in 2010 to head the Transportation Security Agency. He was the longest-serving administrator of the government agency entrusted with keeping terrorists off planes, trains and other means of transport. Because of his efforts, our country’s transportation systems have never been safer and more secure.

Exclusively represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Pistole shares his extensive counterterrorism expertise with audiences. He shares insider stories and behind-the-scenes insights into what it takes to keep America safe and what businesses can learn along the way.

Safer Planes, Trains, and Buses. Pistole led the TSA’s more than 60,000 employees and security operations at more than 450 airports throughout the United States. He boosted the agency’s professionalism and shifted its approach from one-size-fits-all to risk-based, intelligence-driven screening, focusing greater scrutiny on travelers who were less known to authorities or who represented a known threat. He also increased efficiencies that allowed him to return $100 million to the Treasury and created the “Trusted Traveler” pre-check system in 2011 that allows travelers to keep their shoes and jackets on at checkpoints, while leaving laptops and small containers of liquids in carry-on bags. He worked to revamp the agency’s much-misunderstood reputation – the majority of U.S. travelers now have a positive opinion of the agency, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Pistole was instrumental in the TSA becoming an efficient counterterrorism agency.

Forming Out Nation’s Counterterrorism Policies. After the attacks of 9/11, Pistole was placed in charge of the FBI’s counterterrorism program, eventually becoming the FBI’s executive assistant director for national security and later the agency’s deputy director. He was pivotally involved in the formation of terrorism policies. For his incredible work, he received the Edward H. Levi Award for Outstanding Professionalism and Exemplary Integrity in 2007. He is also a recipient of the 2005 Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Executive.

Pistole began his career as a special agent with the FBI in 1983, serving in Minneapolis and New York before his promotion to the organized crime section at FBI headquarters. In 1999, as assistant special agent in charge in Boston, he also helped lead the investigation and recovery efforts of the Egypt Air Flight 990 crash off the coast of Rhode Island.

More about Pistole. John Pistole practiced law for two years prior to joining the FBI. He is a graduate of Anderson University (Indiana) – where he is currently the university’s president – and Indiana University School of Law.

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Speaker Video

John Pistole on Counterterrorism in an Age of Complex Threats

Counterterrorism in an Age of Complex Threats. What does it take to keep America safe and what can organizations learn from those who are at the forefront of our nation’s intelligence gathering agencies? With the internet changing how extremism is fostered, how do we identify who the threats and targets actually are? John Pistole has dedicated his life to our counterterrorism and homeland security efforts. He was involved in several high-profile investigations, and he shares insider stories and behind-the-scenes insights on the many global threats our nation faces (Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, Iran). Offering a look at both the historical background of terrorism and the future of safety, he discusses what businesses need to know in order to safeguard their interests and offers audiences a debrief on the specific challenges of each – from where the threats are and what we can do with limited resources to what we can learn from and actively do about them.

Transportation and Infrastructure Security. From aviation to domestic and international cargo transportation, John Pistole lays out the historic holes in our nation’s security, what we have learned from them, and how we are currently protecting soft targets like trains, planes, roads, ships, and metro lines. In a talk customized to those in the transportation or manufacturing industries, he outlines where – and who – the threats are and what organizations should do to protect their interests as he shares fascinating stories from behind-the-scenes during his time at the TSA. He also posits how these industries will change as both technology and the threats evolve and how businesses should adapt.

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