In a one-two punch, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter both that the nation’s No. 2 intelligence official would resign and that he had named a new acting director of national intelligence ― current National Counterterrorism Center Director Joseph Maguire, a retired Navy SEAL vice admiral.
With Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats set to step down Aug. 15, the president announced Aug. 8 that Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Sue Gordon ― who would replace Coats as acting director once he stepped down ― would also be resigning Aug. 15.
“Sue Gordon is a great professional with a long and distinguished career. I have gotten to know Sue over the past 2 years and have developed great respect for her,” Trump tweeted.
And with Gordon out of the way, Trump was clear to name his own director of national intelligence. Within hours, the president took to Twitter once again to announce his choice.
“I am pleased to inform you that the Honorable Joseph Maguire, current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will be named Acting Director of National Intelligence, effective August 15th. Admiral Maguire has a long and distinguished........career in the military, retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2010. He commanded at every level, including the Naval Special Warfare Command. He has also served as a National Security Fellow at Harvard University. I have no doubt he will do a great job!” Trump tweeted Thursday evening.
Maguire, a career Navy officer and former Booz Allen Hamilton executive, was only named director of the National Counterterrorism Center in December 2018. The National Counterterrorism Center is part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Before that, Maguire, 67, served as president and chief executive of the Tampa, Florida-based Special Operations Warrior Foundation, helping raise tens of millions of dollars for wounded, ill and injured commandos and their survivors.
Maguire served 36 years in the Navy, reaching the rank of vice admiral before retiring.
An affable native New Yorker who speaks with a strong Brooklyn accent, Maguire has a well-earned reputation for mental and physical toughness. His Navy SEAL class named him “Honor Man” after he managed to finish the demanding SEAL training regimen in 1977 despite a broken leg.
Among other things in his long military career, Maguire served as deputy commander of Navy Special Warfare Development Group, otherwise known as SEAL Team 6, commanding officer of SEAL Team 2, director of strategic resources for U.S. Special Operations Command and commander of Naval Special Warfare Command.He previously served as deputy director for strategic operational planning of the National Counterterrorism Center from 2007 to 2010 before going on to work as the vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton.
Trump’s first choice for acting director of national intelligence was Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, but after concerns were raised about the congressman’s qualifications and resume, Trump moved on.
The director of national intelligence oversees the various agencies and organizations that make up intelligence community. Coats, a former senator from Indiana, took over as the director of national intelligence in March 2017. Gordon, on the other hand, was a career intelligence official. She served for 27 years at the Central Intelligence Agency before eventually going on to serve as the deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in 2015. Gordon was named principal deputy director of national intelligence in August 2017, five months after Coats had taken office.
As Coats’ No. 2, Gordon would have replaced Coats as acting director following his resignation. In her brief resignation letter, Gordon announced that she would be retiring from federal service.
“I am confidence in what the Intelligence Community has accomplished, and what it is poised to do going forward. I have seen it in action first-hand for more than 30 years,” she wrote. “Know that our people are our strength, and they will never fail you or the Nation.”
Military Times managing editor Howard Altman contributed to this report.
Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.