Why James Comey should not be FBI Director---
even though he, in due course, will be
Friday, May 31, 2013
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
President Obama's nomination of James Comey to be the next Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is being portrayed as an astute move by a Chief Executive who has had a bad run, politically speaking, of late. After all, Comey served the George W. Bush Administration as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and, later, as Deputy Attorney General under the contentious and often controversial John Ashcroft: thus, Comey's appointment seems one that would be most difficult for Republicans in the United States Senate that will have to confirm him to reject.
In addition, Comey's appointment has earned the plaudits of Democrats as well: much now being made of his attempt to thwart the use of warrantless wiretaps (the very subject of a Commentary of mine written over seven years ago now) and his opposition to the use of techniques such as "waterboarding" during the interrogation of persons suspected of engaging in terrorist activities, both while still working in the Federal Justice Department under Bush/Cheney. After he left public service, he was- among other things- a signatory to an amicus curiae brief in support of legalized Same Sex Marriage (and this from a registered Republican who has donated to both the McCain 2008 and Romney 2012 campaigns, to boot).
But none of this at all changes the fact that Mr. Comey has no business whatsoever coming within even "sniffing distance" of the FBI Directorate, if only because his name shows up uncomfortably too often in another Commentary of mine, from now nine years ago, on the Jose Padilla case (indeed, his name shows up in that Commentary's very first sentence!) and this alone should give one all due pause.
Given the recent Boston Marathon Bombing (and I wrote about the constitutional and legal ramifications of that, too, rather recently: agree with me or no, at least I'm consistent!)- let alone the ongoing so-called 'War on Terror' generally- the idea that the very person who once called a Jose Padilla-related 'presser' (while the United States Supreme Court was, at the time, in the process of deciding Rumsfeld v. Padilla [Oral Argument on the case had already been heard by the Nation's High Court, a High Court that was to render its decision by the close of its term at the end of the same month at the beginning of which Comey held his Jose Padilla-related press conference: it was for this reason that I, back then, saw Comey's 'presser' as "a clear shot across the bow"]) might now become the head man of the very entity within the Justice Department charged with investigating such as terrorism plots (where not also- though Heaven Forfend!- terrorist attacks) is alone altogether galling.
Yet everybody- conservative and liberal alike (so it seems)- is now falling all over themselves praising- where not even genuflecting- before this very idea!
And that, in and of itself, is even more galling.
For, here, a high-level personage within the Justice Department who was all too willing to do the Bush43 Administration's political dirty work- in the form of a crass seeking to influence, perhaps, the outcome of a judicial proceeding in which the important precedent set by Ex parte Milligan (that which fairly says that if the nearby civilian courts be open for business, a person taken into custody for any criminal act must be taken before civil- and not military or, for that matter, any other- jurisprudential authority) was itself under review- is being appointed to what is, arguably, the second most important (as well as influential) position within that same Justice Department (the FBI Director being second only to the United States Attorney General himself in terms of public visibility: let me put it another way-- just how often do you see the Solicitor General on television?) in just as crass a political move and manner by the current President of the United States as he continues to act so flirtatiously with the very Republicans in Congress who are holding large mallets behind their backs, poised to beat up on him over, among many other things, the IRS scandal and Benghazi...
while there is nothing at all wrong with Obama's seeking bipartisan consensus, however elusive this may well be as we are now well within the 2014 Federal Election cycle (indeed, a President whose Party does not at all control one chamber of Congress while the Not-so-Loyal Opposition can well utilize the Senate Rules [via which a majority is not necessarily a "majority", if you know what I mean (wink, wink-- nod, nod)] to also thwart that President's policies and agenda in the other chamber is rather duty bound- constitutionally speaking- to try and forge whatever ties he might across the respective aisles), doing so with such an obviously politically expedient choice for such an important Federal office in such difficult and dangerous times is, in no way, a good thing!
Now, I have no doubt whatsoever that- absent, of course, something we cannot now foresee (something negative, perhaps, coming out of the connections Comey has made within a Financial Sector of the Economy that is looked upon, by at least some, as the very root of the Great Recession [so called] we are still, pretty much, clawing our way out of)- James Comey will be confirmed as FBI Director. Certainly nothing *I* might say or write is going to at all stop this!
All I can now say, therefore, is the following:
You, dear reader, have been warned!