Correspondent, CNN's Special Investigations and Documentary Unit
Kaj Larsen was born in Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in Political Science. At Harvard University he received his Masters degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. At Harvard, Kaj was awarded a fellowship from the Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy. He was also a joint fellow at Tufts Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism studies. His focus includes international security policy, media politics, and political affairs.
Kaj was an award winning correspondent and producer for CNN. His on-camera career began in 2005 when he covered the war in Afghanistan for Current TV. At Current TV Kaj helped develop the Emmy Award winning Vanguard Journalism series. He was the first journalist to bring the issue of waterboarding to the public by having himself waterboarded on TV. He broke the media silence on Somalia by being the first western TV journalist in Mogadishu in over a decade. He has since gone on to report from war zones and conflict spots around the world, in places such as Yemen, Cambodia, Colombia, and Haiti. In 2010 Kaj joined CNN as a correspondent for the Special Investigations and Documentary unit. At CNN his feature documentaries have covered topics ranging from the drug war in Mexico to the devastating floods in Pakistan to Wikileaks. His reporting at CNN is distinguished by his in-field and in-depth examination of difficult and dangerous topics around conflict zones, national security, and criminal justice.
Kaj’s intrepid reporting and powerful filmmaking has put him at the vanguard of a new broadcast journalism. He frequently appears on other media outlets such as ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post. He was the senior correspondent and host of The Current Election, a daily show about politics and public policy. As a producer Kaj has created hit television series such as US Navy Pirate Hunters, a one-hour special for Spike TV, and LOCKUP the highly rated show about life in American prison for air on MSNBC. His work has earned him critical acclaim including an Emmy nomination, a Peabody nomination, two Telly awards, and several Golden Cine awards.
Prior to his work in television journalism, Kaj spent five years on active duty serving as a US Navy SEAL. As a Lieutenant he led a team of special warfare personnel in covert operations overseas deploying as a detachment Commander in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He continues his service as a SEAL reserve officer assigned to US Special Operations Command.
Kaj is a two time national champion open-water swimmer, and placed third in the Escape from Alcatraz duathalon. Kaj has lived extensively overseas, including Thailand, where he studied Muay Thai boxing. He is a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and frequently competes in mixed martial arts competitions.
Kaj used his pay from the service to help launch The Mission Continues, and continues to serve on the Board of Directors. The aim of The Mission Continues is to provide fellowships to returning veterans, with special attention to wounded and disabled veterans, to engage in public service work in the United States.