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New York Times: James Comey to Lead F.B.I.

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller to receive an update on the explosions that occurred in Boston, in the Oval Office, April 15, 2013. Seated with the President are Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks on the phone with FBI Director Robert Mueller to receive an update on the explosions that occurred in Boston, in the Oval Office, April 15, 2013. Seated with the President are Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

THE analysis from the New York Times of what’s being reported, that James Comey will be appointed to be director of the F.B.I., is not just a “strong statement about bipartisanship,” but a revealing moment by President Obama we haven’t seen from him in literally years.

President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former hedge fund executive who served as a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the selection. [New York Times]

My brother worked with John Ashcroft as his assistant attorney general in Missouri. Needless to say my political leanings are well away from John Ashcroft, but my brother Larry has proved to me that his former boss is not the small man that his boss, George W. Bush, represented. Larry also provided written witness when Ashcroft was up for Attorney General regarding the desegregation battle in Missouri, when Ashcroft was being accused of racism. It’s why I know that though Ashcroft was blinded by ideology, on some matters he could not be moved.

This particular moment was defining for Mr. Comey, the instant where he was willing to give his resignation rather than to join the corrupt actions being suggested by Messrs. Card and Gonzales of the Bush administration.

From the New York Times tonight comes a reminder:

According to testimony Mr. Comey provided to Congress in 2007, Mr. Ashcroft rose weakly from his hospital bed when Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card approached and refused to approve the program.

“I was angry,” Mr. Comey said in his testimony. “I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me. I thought he had conducted himself in a way that demonstrated a strength I had never seen before, but still I thought it was improper.”

Current F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller has taken the bureau to a place that Louis Freeh could not. Freeh was a man driven, as far as I’m concerned, by political motives, someone who courted the limelight and the favor of those in power more than most.

Robert Mueller was none of these things, as far as I could tell.

James Comey is in the tradition of the undeniably uncorruptable.

In a time of swirling scandal, it is a message from the President Obama that integrity still matters. If you’re cynical, which is understandable, it’s another way for President Obama to signal he’s going out on his own terms, not those of the scandal mongers.

“In his ten years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the Bureau. Given the ongoing threats facing the United States, as well as the leadership transitions at other agencies like the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, I believe continuity and stability at the FBI is critical at this time. Bob transformed the FBI after September 11, 2001 into a pre-eminent counterterrorism agency, he has shown extraordinary leadership and effectiveness at protecting our country every day since. He has impeccable law enforcement and national security credentials, a relentless commitment to the rule of law, unquestionable integrity and independence, and a steady hand that has guided the Bureau as it confronts our most serious threats. I am grateful for his leadership, and ask Democrats and Republicans in Congress to join together in extending that leadership for the sake of our nation’s safety and security.” – President Barack Obama

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10 Responses to New York Times: James Comey to Lead F.B.I.

  1. Ga6thDem May 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I agree with you on Freeh. He was way to political to hold as high a position as he did.

  2. TPAZ May 29, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    “James Comey is in the tradition of the undeniably incorruptible.”

    This story underscores two of the reasons I have a real problem with this administration. Does Obama know ANY Democrats? I have to believe there is at least one D that is “undeniably incorruptible”. Second, I really hoped that this Democrat would grow the D’s bench by appointing young Democrats in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s, that could serve future Democratic presidents, like JFK and even Clinton appointed. For a former college professor, Obama sure is not comfortable around younger policy wonks; speech writers yes, policy wonks, no.

  3. fangio May 30, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    ” In his ten years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the bureau. ” You must be kidding me. I bet all those Americans who received those NSL’s feel the same way. I guess he does set the gold standard for illegal wiretapping, spying on political groups and other more obscene fascist tactics. Bring on the hedge fund manager! ” Bring out the dead. “

  4. Ramsgate May 30, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Well written post Taylor. Comey may indeed be incorruptible but I do agree with TPAZ above: Does Obama know any incorruptible Democrats? As the Leader of the Democratic party is it not his responsibility to promote and advance the careers of Democrats who fund his campaigns and who have been waiting in the wings for decades for a chance to serve. He worships at the alter of bipartisanship and he has absolutely nothing to show for it. Indeed, the more he pushes the more contempt they seem to have for him. Republicans promote their own; Democrats search long and hard to fill their ranks with the opposition. And the rank and file like sheep silently go along with the treachery.

    Here’s one to chew on:
    “[President Obama] is indeed a moderate Republican, which is why I’ve always liked his approach to governing and to policy.”

    – Andrew Sullivan, May 29, 2013

  5. Cujo359 May 30, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    I think Glenn Greenwald’s take on this is more accurate:

    start quote

    But whatever else was true, he was the lawyer who legally approved that warrantless NSA program that the New York Times revealed that caused so much scandal. And he was part of the process that legalized the torture techniques used by the Bush administration. How can that possibly not disqualify him from running the FBI in the eyes of progressives who claimed to find all of that so atrocious and such an assault on all that is dear and good in the world?

    end quote

    If he’s better than the average Obama Administration legal appointee, which he probably is, that’s a sad commentary on those other appointments. The man just had some limit that we still don’t understand all these years later. That probably does make him a cut above folks like Holder, but it’s a small one viewed from the perspective of all the things that fell within his limits.

    • Cujo359 May 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

      Here’s the link to that quote.

      • TPAZ May 30, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

        O/T Cujo, how are you embedding links? I don’t know how you are doing it.

        I’ll spring for snausages…

        • Cujo359 May 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

          I just embed them as HTML tags. Since I’m not sure what’s allowed in comments here at the moment (I need HTML character strings to show up as the characters they represent), this may not work, but the short version is this. When I type:

          <A HREF=””>my blog</A>

          it will look like:

          my blog

          Hope that works…

          • TPAZ May 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

            Thanks, I’ll try it.

  6. Cujo359 May 30, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    The ACLU released a statement about Comey. After noting that they don’t take an official position on such nominations, they noted:

    start quote:

    As the second-highest ranked Justice Department official under John Ashcroft, Comey approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration. Specifically, the publicly available evidence indicates Comey signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding. He also oversaw the indefinite detention without charge or trial of an American citizen picked up in the United States and then held for years in a military brig. Although Comey, despite tremendous pressure from the Bush White House, deserves credit for courageously stopping the reauthorization of a secret National Security Agency program, he reportedly approved programs that struck at the very core of who we all are as Americans.

    end quote

    I added that emphasis. At the time this news came out, I was grateful that any Bush Administration legal appointee would stand on principle. Comey does deserve credit for that. Unfortunately, his principles seem to largely be those of official Washington, and they have not led him to raise objections about torture and secret surveillance, even when those things were clearly illegal.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong