Bill Harlow is a writer, consultant and public relations specialist with over thirty years of experience including assignments in some of the toughest communications positions in the U.S. government. He spent seven years as the top spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency under both Democrat and Republican administrations and four years at the White House, serving two Presidents, handling national security media matters.
Since August 2004, he has been in private practice, providing public relations advice to government agencies, trade associations, and prominent public figures. From 2004 to 2009 he was a consultant to NBC News and has appeared on such programs as NBC Nightly News and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. In 2008, along with former NBC News senior correspondent Fred Francis, he co-founded 15-Seconds.com, a media training and crisis communications firm.
From 1997 to 2004 he was chief spokesman for the CIA. In that position he dealt with national and international news media on some of the most sensitive issues and operations of the United States government. He coordinated all public communications for the Director of Central Intelligence and was responsible for employee communications throughout the Agency’s worldwide workforce.
Prior to joining the CIA, Harlow had a distinguished 25-year career in the United States Navy concluding with the rank of Captain.He was Assistant White House Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs and National Security during both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. Harlow traveled the world with two Presidents, helping to set up summit meetings and deal with media interest on some of the most newsworthy events of modern times, including the fall of communism and the first Gulf War.
In addition to his military and government communications career, he was co-author of George Tenet’s 2007 New York Times #1 best-seller “At the Center of the Storm.” Harlow’s highly acclaimed novel, “Circle William,” was published by Scribner in 1999 and in paperback by PocketBooks in 2001. Paramount Pictures optioned the story to develop it as a major motion picture. “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives” co-authored with Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., former chief of the National Clandestine Service, was published April 30, 2012 by Simon and Schuster and was another New York Times best-seller. He co-authored “The Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism — From al Qa’ida to ISIS” with former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell. A third, New York Times bestseller — that book was published in May 2015. His most recent book: “Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America” published by Crown Forum in November 2016 is also a New York Times bestseller.
Reaction to Bill’s Novel: Circle William
“Bill Harlow has written a remarkable novel about international intrigue and policy making at the highest levels of our government. If you can’t work in the White House, this is the next best thing.”
–Brent Scowcroft, former National Security Adviser
“This is a terrific and unusual book. It offers two things often missing from such novels: military experience and a sense of humor.”
–Tom Ricks, author of “Making the Corps ”
“Bill Harlow has captured the essence of almost every personality type the White House and Navy have to offer, with the uncanny authenticity of a man who knows both institutions intimately. True Washington insiders will recognize every character in Circle William. And he put them to great use in a first rate tale of high seas adventure and high White House intrigue.”
–Marlin Fitzwater, former White House Press Secretary
“Circle William is a page turner – a riveting tale of suspense, a realistic glimpse of political personalities managing crises and most of all it is a fun read.”
–Sean O’Keefe, former Secretary of the Navy
“Harlow has the Navy right, the press right, the White House right. I love this book. It’s a terrific read — all done with great seriousness while capturing the humor in the personalities who reside in some of the places of power or semi-power.”
–Bob Woodward, co-author of “All the President’s Men,” Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post
“Insider details double the interest in this humdinger of a thriller”
–Larry King, USA Today
Additional Comments About Bill Harlow
If a reporter had a glimmer of a story, Harlow worked with him to get it straight, while denying untrue charges. Like the best PR people, Harlow got his message across while giving the reporter material he or she could use because he leaned over backward to be honest, Harlow had credibility.
Ronald Kessler, Author: The CIA At War.
From Hubris by Michael Isikoff and David Corn:
“But Harlow probably played the media better than any government press officer in town.”