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Shawn Turner, Director of Public Affairs, DNI Shawn Turner, Director of Public Affairs, DNI

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2013 Security / White House: Intelligence Agencies

Shawn Turner, Director of Public Affairs, DNI

photo of Michael Hirsh
July 16, 2013

Turner spent 21 years in the Marine Corps and, upon retirement, thought he'd try the private sector. But he kept getting lured back to government. "The truth is, I enjoy serving. The opportunity to serve at this level is not something many people get a chance to do," says Turner, 42, who became the DNI's director of public affairs in June 2011 after serving on the national security staff. Today, he works to coordinate communication outreach for all 16 agencies and components that make up the intelligence community. Turner, a native of Cincinnati who holds a B.A. from Texas State University and a master's in crisis communication from George Mason University, says he quickly realized upon taking his job that all the agencies were not on the same "message." "We talked a lot about integration," he says, but "one of the areas where it was not happening was in communication. Through no malice or ill will, the public-affairs officers just were not linked up to each other." Turner has worked hard to change that, and he says he has been sorely tested since the Benghazi attack, which revealed the squabbling that still goes on among agencies. "Benghazi really tested our ability to put into place some of those practices that we had committed to," he says. As a result, DNI "stepped out in front, did lean a little more forward [than] we would typically do."

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