Joel Brenner

Senior Advisor

Areas of Focus:

National Security Law

Data Protection and Privacy


Risk Management

Joel Brenner is a Senior Advisor at The Chertoff Group.  From 2006 to 2009, Mr. Brenner was the head of U.S. counterintelligence under the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for integrating the counterintelligence activities of the 17 departments and agencies with intelligence authorities, including the FBI and CIA and elements of the Department of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security.  From 2002 to 2006, Mr. Brenner served as the Inspector General of the National Security Agency (NSA), responsible for the agency’s top-secret internal audits and investigations worldwide.    From 2009-2010 he served as Senior Counsel to NSA, advising Agency leadership on the public-private effort to create better security for the Internet.   

Previously, Mr. Brenner was with the law firm of Cooley, LLP where he represented companies and individuals in a wide variety of transactions and proceedings including sensitive foreign acquisitions and overseas operations, the liability of foreign governments, export controls, and internal corporate investigations. He also served as a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and has extensive trial and arbitration experience in private practice.  He is the author of America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare (Penguin Press, 2001), available through

Mr. Brenner is admitted to practice in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and New York and in a variety of federal trial and appellate courts.    He is a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law & National Security and has written about intelligence oversight and Presidential authority to suspend or prohibit foreign takeovers of U.S. firms.  Mr. Brenner is often quoted in the national media on data security, privacy, and intelligence issues.

Mr. Brenner was educated at the Harvard Law School (J.D.), the London School of Economics and Political Science (Ph.D.), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (B.A.).   Mr. Brenner was awarded the Intelligence Community Achievement Medal in July 2009.