Who should be the next FBI Director? Jim Reese.
Never heard of him? In part, that’s why Reese is the right leader for the job. Unlike others now jockeying for the prestigious Pennsylvania Avenue position, Reese has spent his life outside the headlines.
Over the hills and far away — risking life, limb, and mind, in service of the United States.
A 25-year veteran of the Army, Lt. Col. Reese is a retired Delta Force operator. The military’s most elite special mission unit, Delta is tasked with the riskiest, most important missions. Reese has fought these battles on the ground and in the operations center.
During the Iraq War, he commanded a task force that hunted down al Qaeda and other terrorists. And within the special operations community, Reese’s reputation is legendary. Distinguished former Delta operator Dalton Fury once argued that Reese “quite possibly would have made Ulysses S. Grant appear wanting when it came to working through chaos, calming nerves, and demanding the best out of subordinates.”
I have the fortune of knowing Reese personally. And I fully concur with that tribute of his individual leadership skills. He is not just any mentor. Reese has no qualms issuing challenge alongside praise. He tells you when he believes you’re wrong. He believes that success requires a fidelity to introspection and durable outcomes.
That characteristic of fidelity offers the first reason why Reese would be a great pick for the FBI. He is a leader who would not buckle under political pressure, nor yield to public expectation. He would use his office to advance the FBI’s mission rather than his own persona.
He would not, for example, follow the tradition of some senior military and government leaders who spend their evenings attending lavish dinner parties at Washington embassies and hotels. And he would not waver in supporting FBI agents and analysts as they performed their necessary duties. Whether Trump or Pelosi, no politician could import political pressure onto a Director Reese.
But Reese would also innovate. Like any big organization, the FBI is ripe for reform. Establishing a successful global company after leaving the military, Reese would bring a blend of public and private sector thinking to bear. He could make the bureau more efficient and forward looking. That will be necessary in the years ahead.
For one, facing growing mistrust of our political system, the FBI should probably increase its staffing of political corruption details. The bureau might do well to transfer more lower-level counter-terrorism duties away from agents and towards local police-dominated Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Regardless, Reese despises static thinking. His is an open-door, if-in-doubt-innovate philosophy of two parts: “No. 1: Strive to be a good listener. You have to be a good listener and an active listener. No. 2, if in charge, take charge.”
The next FBI director needs to be able to inspire the trust of the organization and the American people. Reese is the man for the job. He might not be a political celebrity, but he is an intellectual warrior. He deserves an interview with the Department of Justice.
Tom Rogan (@TomRtweets) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a foreign policy columnist for National Review, a domestic policy columnist for Opportunity Lives, a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute.