John Magaw

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John William Magaw
John magaw.jpg
John Magaw
Born 1935 (age 81–82)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Otterbein College
Known for U.S. government administrator
past head of SS, ATF, FEMA, TSA
Board member of Otterbein College trustees[1]
Relatives Beth M Magaw, Craig David Magaw, Gary T Magaw, Helen F Magaw, Mark Allen Magaw, Thomas S. Magaw, Meagan J. Magaw
Awards Presidential Rank Meritorious Award (1991, 1999)
Presidential Rank Distinguished Award (1995)

John William Magaw (born 1935) is a former United States government administrator. He received a bachelor of science degree in education from Otterbein College, in Westerville, Ohio (1957).[1] He began his career in public service in 1959 as a state trooper with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

He became a special agent with the United States Secret Service in 1967. While he was at the Secret Service he served as deputy special agent in charge of the Vice Presidential protective division and head of the Washington Field office. By 1992, Magaw was in charge of all protective operations for the President and First family. Magaw was Director of the United States Secret Service from 1992 to 1993.

The Waco siege did not reflect well on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). After an investigation, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury purged its senior leadership and appointed Magaw Director. Morale in the agency improved during his tenure (1993–1999).[2][3]

Magaw was appointed Senior Advisor to the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for terrorism preparedness in December 1999. In that role, he planned and coordinated FEMA's domestic terrorism preparedness efforts.

He served was Acting Director (January 20, 2001–February 15, 2001). After Joe Allbaugh's confirmation he held other positions within FEMA.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, and his deputy, chose Magaw to stand up the new Transportation Security Administration, for his law enforcement experience and successessful leadership of BATF. President George W. Bush agreed, and in January 2002 the U.S. Senate confirmed Magaw as Undersecretary of Transportation Security. He oversaw the initial standup of the TSA. His tough approach to airport security produced long lines and inconvenience for travelers, angering stakeholders. Not allowing pilots to arm themselves also sparked controversy. He didn't cultivate his public image, nor tend to relations with Congress. He left TSA in June 2002; former United States Coast Guard Admiral James Loy replaced him. Magaw lasted six months at TSA; his successor lasted ten months. (TSA later moved from Transportation to Homeland Security.)[3][4]

Magaw received the Presidential Rank Meritorious Award twice (1991, 1999), and the Presidential Rank Distinguished Award (1995).


  1. ^ a b Roger Routson, ed. (2006-11-27). "Board of Trustees" (PDF). Towers (magazine). 79 (4). Westerville, Ohio: Office of Marketing & Communications of Otterbein College. p. 11. (USPS 413-720). Retrieved 2009-05-01. John W.Magaw ’57 
  2. ^ Moore, Jim (2001). Very special agents: the inside story of America's most controversial law enforcement agency--the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (reprint, illustrated ed.). University of Illinois Press. pp. 306–307. ISBN 978-0-252-07025-9. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  3. ^ a b Felcher, E. Marla (2004-02-23). U.S. AVIATION SECURITY BEFORE AND AFTER THE SEPTEMBER 11 TERRORIST ATTACKS (PDF). New York, New York and Washington, D.C.: The Century Foundation. Retrieved 2009-05-01. [TSA's first leader] John Magaw, was fired after six months on the job, amid complaints from all of his stakeholders (the airlines, airport operators, frequent fliers, and Congress) for having taken the new security regime too far. 
  4. ^ Brill, Steven (2003). After: the rebuilding and defending of America in the September 12 era (reprint ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 260, 282, 283, 298, 315, 320, 355, 408, 436, 437, 475, 505, 506, 661, 672, 673, 677. ISBN 978-0-7432-3710-9. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
Government offices
Preceded by
John R. Simpson
Director, United States Secret Service
Succeeded by
Eljay B. Bowron
Preceded by
James Lee Witt
acting FEMA chief
January, 2001–February, 2001
Succeeded by
Joe Allbaugh
Preceded by
Stephen Higgins
ATF chief
Succeeded by
Bradley A. Buckles
Preceded by
first TSA chief
January, 2002–June, 2002
Succeeded by
James Loy