President Obama's prospective nominee to lead the FBI for a 10-year term deserves rigorous review for his civil rights record — scrutiny he is unlikely to receive.
The White House leaked to friendly reporters last week its plan to nominate Comey, right, former deputy attorney general during the Bush administration. A Republican, Comey was second in command during a period of flagrant civil rights abuses at the Justice Department.
He personifies prosecution, Wall Street, and military power. This combination is disturbing in view of the pattern of rights violations under the Bush administration enshrined into near-settled law under Obama.
My forthcoming book, Presidential Puppetry, describes why the president is a willing tool of these power centers. Rob Kall further amplified the theme in a June 1 column on OpEdNews, Time For Holder to Resign/Be Fired. The Obama administration and many others in the Washington establishment are complicit to abuses by authorities in recent years, as further documented in many reports here at the Justice Integrity Project site, among other places. Top elected officials seem to support law enforcement abuses and cover-ups.
Comey's worked after leaving the Bush Justice Department in August 2005 as a high-ranking executive at the defense contractor Lockheed Martin and at the $75 billion hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. Such funds avoid normal regulation, thereby allowing major players to try to outplay the market on investments. Hiring executives such as Comey draws on their expert knowledge of developing events, and also allows Wall Street barons to reward financially their favorite regulators after and before they rotate between government posts.
Since February, Comey has been a researcher at Columbia University Law School, a board member of HSBC Holdings in London, and a member of the Defense Legal Policy Board, whose advisers for the Department of Defense have included former Defense Secretaries and such other prominent former officials as Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle.
To be sure, nearly all U.S. senators and mainstream commentators weighing Comey's nomination are going to regard his posts as exemplary credentials for the job succeeding Robert Mueller III, left, a fellow Republican who is expected to step down next fall after 12 years leading the FBI.
Comey, 52, is further immunized from in-depth scrutiny by what is said to be his affable nature, the drumbeat of anti-terror crackdowns by the federal government since 9/11, and Comey's now-famous support for then-Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft when the Bush White House sought to persuade an ailing Ashcroft to authorize arguably illegal surveillance.
Comey, standing at 6-foot 8, rushed to Ashcroft's hospital bedside in a show of strength for his boss upon learning that White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and Counsel Alberto Gonzales were pressuring a dazed Ashcroft to sign an illegal order.
That impressive action by Comey, however, should not foreclose close scrutiny of the rest of his record and what it means for the country.
Political party distinctions mean little in practice when both parties have been cracking down on traditional civil liberties. Yet much of the voting public thinks a distinction exist. So, it represents a breach of political accountability that Comey's appointment would lock in yet another Republican for a post that Democrats almost never hold, as indicated by a chart. The FBI's first director, J. Edgar Hoover, held the job for 47 years. Bill Clinton appointed Republican Louis Freeh, who was a strong antagonist of the president for most of Freeh's seven years in office.