VP of Intelligence at Stratfor , former special agent, police officer and New York Times best-selling author
Fred Burton is one of the world’s foremost authorities on security and terrorism. He oversees Stratfor’s analysis of global security developments and consults with clients on security-related issues affecting their business assets or personal safety. He also guides the firm’s coverage of situations involving terrorism, hostages, hijackings and plane crashes. Before joining Stratfor, Mr. Burton served as a counterterrorism agent with the U.S. State Department from 1985 to 1999.
During his 14-year career, Mr. Burton was involved in many high-profile investigations including: the search for and arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing; the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; the killing of Rabbi Meir Kahane and al Qaeda’s New York City bombing plots before 9/11; and the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel and Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
Mr. Burton was deputy chief of counterterrorism at the Diplomatic Security Service, where he was in charge of preventing and investigating attacks against diplomatic personnel and facilities. While a Stratfor analyst, he was appointed to the Border Security Council and served as the Assistant Director for Intelligence & Counterterrorism at the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Mr. Burton is the author of four books, including the best-selling memoir, GHOST: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent (Random House, 2008). He also serves on the Advisory Board of the National Police Foundation’s Center for Mass Violence Response Studies (CMVRS).
My Daily Thoughts:
Goal of the Day: To make a difference.
Thought of the Day: I miss Shadow, my old black Labrador. He was my traveling and writing buddy.
Action of the Day: Help others get their job done.
Deed of the Day: Putting up with Austin traffic.
Tip of the Day: You can be what you want to be.
A Day in My Life:
What do you love most about Your City?
Tex-Mex and BBQ.
Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?
Breakfast tacos at Maudie’s Tex-Mex on Lake Austin Boulevard.
What are you doing at:
6:00 AM – Writing at home or at my desk.
10:00 AM – See above
12:00 PM – Favorite Lunch spot/meal?
Schmidt Family Barbeque; chopped beef sandwich
7:00 PM – Checking email, Twitter and LinkedIn.
11:00 PM – In bed.
What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?
Coffee, 2-3 cups a day. Black.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
What should everyone try at least once?
Becoming a special agent or rescue squad EMT.
Where do you enjoy getting lost?
New Mexico and Colorado.
My Pic of the Day:
Honored to tell Bill Buckley’s story in Beirut Rules. President George H.W. Bush’s testimonial blurb is humbling and a reminder of how we should all try to live.
My Native AdVice:
How did you get into the industry?
I was a street cop (the best job I ever had) before becoming a special agent. I discuss my career path in great detail in my memoir Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent (Random House, 2008.)
Career advice to those in your industry?
Follow your dreams and pick a job that you really want to do. Don’t start on a path you don’t want to walk for a long time.
Any emerging industry trends?
Cyber security is the new frontier in government, business and private life – along with acts of mass violence. Accept the fact that the cops and feds won’t be able to stop them all. Take ownership and have a plan. Most people don’t.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Stratfor’s ability to make sense of the world.
How do you motivate others?
Leave ’em alone. Nobody likes to be micro-managed. (Except maybe when it comes to making coffee).
My Native AdVantage:
What are my aspirations?
I would still like to become a U.S. Marshal or Game Warden.
My Biggest Success?
Failure was the norm in the counter-terrorism business, especially in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Managing through the chaos with limited resources and making up the rules as we went along. We managed to capture an FBI Top Ten Fugitive and the mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing, though.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Working the investigation into the the Zia plane crash in 1988 that killed the President of Pakistan and U.S. Ambassador Arnie Raphel. He was the last U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty until the 2012 murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. The ’88 case was very complex, with more twists and turns than a John Le Carré novel.
Follow your dreams. Most people quit before they start.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
My Dad. He left the coal camps of West Virginia and found a better life.
What Else to Know?
Follow me @fred_burton, so I can keep bragging rights around the coffee pot for having the most Twitter followers @Stratfor.