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Keeping us all safe: Joe Maguire, from Manhattan College swim champ to protecting America

2019-08-18

He swam to the top.

Despite the craziness in Washington and the departure of the top two intelligence officials, we sleep well knowing that Joe Maguire is on watch.

The Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center and, since Thursday, the acting director of national intelligence, Maguire is Brooklyn’s own James Bond.

A stronger swimmer as a kid, he went to Manhattan College and led the Jaspers, setting six school records and six conference records in the pool by the time he graduated in 1974. The team captain, he was the conference’s most valuable swimmer the year the Jaspers won the conference title.

The Navy came calling and he became a SEAL, rising to lead the toughest fighters on the planet. We met Maguire in 2000, then a captain, when he was CO of the Naval Special Warfare Center. We heard from his secret warrior colleagues of SEAL Team Two legend Maguire racing Zodiac boats on the Baltic Sea at 60 knots and how he would swim down and knock on the hull of a sub, which would open the torpedo door, allowing him to swim into the tube and enter the ship. Just like Bond, but for real. Maguire gave us his business card, which carried only his name and rank. No phone, address or email.

When terrorists attacked his hometown on 9/11, Maguire’s skills were noticed. He won an admiral’s star. And another. And another. He ran the Naval Special Warfare Command, overseeing SEALs fighting worldwide. He mustered out in 2010, after 36 years. Now, he’s back on duty.