WASHINGTON — Lisa Monaco’s brother has raced in the Boston Marathon. Like many in her native Newton, she has cheered runners along the route. But on Monday, after a pair of bombs ripped through crowds around the finish line, Monaco played a far more urgent role: briefing President Obama on details of the attack.
Just weeks into her new job as Obama’s White House adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, Monaco is coordinating the federal government’s response and keeping the president advised of progress in the investigation. The bombing is providing an early, high-profile test of her skills after spending a career as a behind-the-scenes law enforcement and intelligence official. Colleagues say she is well-prepared for the task.
“In a crisis she’s very cool. She’s unflappable,” said Kenneth Wainstein, who had the same job during the administration of President George W. Bush.
“She knows how to focus on the important points and not get distracted by all the noise that is inevitably out there in the aftermath of a crisis like this,’’ he added. “That’s very important for someone trying to guide the government apparatus through a crisis.”
On the day of the attacks, the White House released a photo of Obama, on the phone, during a briefing by his top homeland security team. Monaco sits by his desk in the Oval Office, a pen resting pensively on her lips, as the president speaks on the phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller.
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