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Why Michael Garcia Would Be Ideal as FBI Director

Image: Why Michael Garcia Would Be Ideal as FBI Director
In April of 2016, Associate Judge Michael Garcia is applauded after being sworn in during a ceremony at the Court of Appeals in Albany, N.Y. (Mike Groll/AP)

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Friday, 12 May 2017 05:52 PM Current | Bio | Archive

I grew up with Mike Garcia in Valley Stream, N.Y. He always had great respect and affinity for the law — and for public service. He was an excellent student. Today, he is an exceptional jurist and has been a model public servant, husband, and father.

Back in 2011, when President Obama was searching for an FBI director, Michael Garcia’s name was mentioned. I would venture to say that had President Obama nominated Mike Garcia we would not be in need for a new director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation today. 

That is why now, I hope that President Trump will seriously consider nominating Mike Garcia to replace Comey. Back in 2011, Chris Battle wrote a convincing article for SecurityDebrief.com making the case for Michael Garcia to head the law enforcement agency. I find that his words are as compelling today as they were back then.

He said, in part, "Garcia is the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan (which is widely viewed as the most important prosecutorial office in the nation) as well as the former head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which is the primary criminal investigation agency within the Department of Homeland Security and the second largest only to the FBI itself).

"Garcia, who would be the first Latino Director of the FBI, has prosecuted high-profile terrorism cases as well as run a major federal criminal investigation agency. Moreover, he brings hands-on experience in transforming and building a new law enforcement agency (with ICE) — something critical for the next FBI Director who must continue the transformation of the FBI from a criminal investigations organization to one primarily focused on counterterrorism.

"The ideal candidate to run the nation’s largest criminal investigations agency dedicated to counterterrorism should have experience managing a major law enforcement agency comprised of 1811s (special agents). He or she should have experience as a federal prosecutor; and that prosecution work should include cases against international terrorism. I’ll explain the logic of these ideal qualifications below, but first let’s review some of the ther top candidates."

Garcia launched his career in the early 1990s, prosecuting two of the most high-profile terrorism cases in U.S. history prior to 9/11 — the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. His success in these cases would lead to his appointments as assistant secretary for Export Enforcement in the Department of Commerce and, more importantly, the first chief of the newly established Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

This role not only provided Garcia with hands-on experience managing a federal criminal investigations agency focused on national security issues, it also created a trial-by-fire experience of change management, something critical to anybody looking to continue the transformation of the FBI from its traditional role to the premier counterterrorism agency.

When ICE was first stood up, Garcia was faced with the difficult task of creating a truly new law enforcement agency from several formerly autonomous agencies with independent missions, including: special agents from the former U.S. Customs; criminal investigators and alien removal officers from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); investigators and law enforcement personnel from the Federal Protective Service; and, at one point, federal air marshals transferred from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Garcia laid the foundation for creating a new agency, with a new mission and culture, molded from agents and personnel who were often resistant to change.

Such a transition doesn’t occur overnight, of course, and subsequent leaders at ICE have ably continued the effort — including Julie Myers Wood and John Morton.

Garcia’s work at ICE did not go unnoticed, as he was recruited to return to Manhattan — this time to lead the U.S. Attorney’s office. During his tenure in New York, he also chaired the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on Terrorism and National Security.

There is no other candidate among those names floated for consideration that bring to bear all of the unique qualifications Judge Mike Garcia does. Lead prosecutor in high-profile terrorism cases, head of a federal law enforcement agency, and critical experience in leading a major transformation of such an agency.

Today, Mike Garcia is Judge Garcia. He serves on the Court of Appeals in the state of New York. His nomination by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was met with wide bipartisan support.

President Trump and our nation would be well served to tap Mike Garcia to be the next FBI director.

Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-2004. He is currently a professor of politics and public policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.

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There is no other candidate among those names floated for consideration that bring to bear all of the unique qualifications Judge Mike Garcia does. President Trump and our nation would be well served to tap Mike Garcia to be the next FBI director.
agency, fbi, judge
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2017-52-12
Friday, 12 May 2017 05:52 PM
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