McLaughlin has served as the deputy director of central intelligence, the No. 2 position in the CIA, since Oct. 19, 2000, when he was sworn in by President Bill Clinton. McLaughlin served as deputy director of intelligence, the agency’s top analyst position, from 1997-2000.
He delivered the commencement address and received a Doctor of Laws at Wittenberg’s 2001 commencement ceremony.
“There is an old saying that ‘leadership casts a long shadow’,” McLaughlin told the graduates that day. “I predict that each of you will also realize as life goes on that you stand in the long shadow of someone here at Wittenberg, be it a professor, a dean, a president or even a fellow student.”
Following three years in the military, graduation from the Infantry Officer Candidate School and a one-year tour of duty in Southeast Asia, McLaughlin was hired by the CIA in 1972. In the early part of his career, he worked on various European, Russian and Eurasian issues in the Directorate of Intelligence. In 1984-85, he served a rotational tour at the State Department in the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, where he was responsible for following European relations with the Middle East, Central America, and Africa. In 1985, he became the deputy director of the Office of European Analysis, and in 1989, McLaughlin was appointed the director of European analysis. Three months after the breakup of the Soviet Union, McLaughlin was appointed the director of Slavic and Eurasian analysis. He held the position until 1995, concentrating on political, economic and military issues in Russia and the 14 other new states that emerged from the U.S.S.R. Since then, he has served as deputy director for intelligence, vice chairman for estimates and acting chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
During his tenure as deputy director for intelligence, McLaughlin was responsible for the analysis of political, economic, and military events worldwide. During the period, he created the Senior Analytic Service, a CIA career track that enables analysts to rise to senior rank without branching out into management. He also founded The Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis, an institution dedicated to teaching the history, mission and essential skills of the analytic profession to new CIA employees.
McLaughlin, who holds a master’s in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, spent a year on Capitol Hill as a staff assistant to Senator Joseph Clark of Pennsylvania while he was a student at Wittenberg. McLaughlin also spent one year of his Master’s program studying at the SAIS Center in Bologna, Italy, and he completed additional graduate work in comparative politics at the University of Pennsylvania.
George E. Hudson, professor of political science and director of Russian studies, presented McLaughlin with the honorary degree during the 2001 commencement ceremony.
“When you leave this great school, you will find as I did that many forks appear in the road, and I defy any of you to know now where those choices will lead you three decades hence,” McLaughlin told the graduates. “I could not in 1964 have traced my path more than a year or so into the future. But I can tell you this: when you someday retrace your path as I have, you will find your Wittenberg heritage woven through it like a constant thread.”
McLaughlin inherits a challenging situation as head of the world’s most powerful intelligence agency. In an era of global terrorism and highly charged politicism in Washington, D.C., McLaughlin has previously managed to remain above the fray. He was recently called “the most anonymous” senior official in Washington by the Washington Post. Now he assumes the leadership mantle from Tenet, who made regular appearances on Capitol Hill defending his agency’s actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots around the world. Rest assured, McLaughlin will no longer be anonymous.
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