Detroit's FBI special agent in charge retires

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The special agent in charge of the FBI's Detroit division, Timothy Waters, retired Friday after 21 years in federal law enforcement.

Waters was at the helm of the Detroit bureau for a year but spent his FBI career in and out of Detroit.

"While Tim Waters was only the special agent in charge for a short duration, he impacted the vision and facilitated significant positive change to keep FBI Detroit ahead of our threats," said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Josh Hauxhurst, who will be the acting special agent in charge until the FBI names a permanent leader.

Waters began his career with the FBI in 2000 as a special agent assigned to work white-collar crime in the agency's Detroit field office, and held numerous other posts.

He worked on counterterrorism issues after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006 to support military and intelligence community operations.

In 2007, Waters was promoted to supervisory special agent and led a squad on Detroit’s Joint Terrorism Task Force that worked on domestic terrorism and reactive terrorism issues. The squad worked on several high-profile matters, including the attempted bombing of an airliner on a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009.

Barbara McQuade, the former U.S. attorney in Detroit, said the FBI was "very fortunate" to have someone of Waters' caliber in Detroit. At the time, there was debate about whether terrorism cases should be tried criminal or before a military tribunal.

"Tim interviewed him and testified at trial that linked him to al-Qaeda. and lead to important intelligence collection about the source of the bomb," said McQuade, now a professor at University of Michigan.

In 2010, Waters was named the legal attaché in Islamabad.

He returned to Detroit in 2011 and became supervisor of a terrorism task force that focused on al-Qaeda.

Waters was promoted in 2014 to assistant special agent in charge for administrative matters in Detroit. He was reassigned in 2016 as the assistant special agent in charge of Detroit’s National Security Branch, which investigated counterterrorism, cyber, counterintelligence and weapons of mass destruction.

He was promoted in 2019 to serve as the director of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force. In 2020, he was named deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Critical Incident Response Group, where he helped lead the FBI’s response to critical incidents worldwide.

In December 2020, U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray named Waters as special agent in charge of the office where he spent most of career.

 "He is a quiet, humble public servant who contributions have been enormous," said McQuade.