Why Obama Wants a Top Bush Lawyer to Head the FBI

James Comey challenged the legality of George W. Bush's wiretapping program, making him a hero to Democrats.

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Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images

Former deputy attorney general James Comey at a hearing investigating the firings of U.S. attorneys in Washington on May 3, 2007

President Barack Obama has tapped former deputy attorney general James Comey to head the FBI, according to Administration officials. A Republican, his selection is likely to be met with broad bipartisan support. That has much to do with his sterling résumé, which includes his time at the Department of Justice and his record as the top prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

But it has even more to do with Comey’s leadership during the most important confrontation between U.S. law enforcement and the White House since Watergate. Comey is rightly viewed as a hero for his handling of the famous hospital incident of March 10, 2004, during which George W. Bush’s top White House aides, Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales, attempted to get bed-stricken, delirious Attorney General John Ashcroft to reauthorize an electronic-surveillance program that Justice Department lawyers had determined was illegal.

Every article written about Comey in coming days will refer to the incident. None of them will capture it as Comey did himself in his testimony May 15, 2007:

One historical sidenote: Comey was persuaded to testify in part by a young aide to Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, Preet Bharara, whom Comey had mentored when he was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara now holds that job.

12 comments
gchu
gchu

When Obama announces the nomination of Comey as FBI director, he will be speaking as a Bush apologist rehabilitating the Bush Administration.  It will be a deed of treason on Democrats.

With Comey's nomination, Obama will confirm his presidential campaign of "change" was a complete electrion fraud, and he will confirm he is a pseudo-Democratic President with a morally bankrupt administration that is imploding from scandals.

Comey is unfit to be FBI director.  "Comey the Terrible" will assail the constitutional rights of Americans with the abuse and misuse of the criminal justice system.   "Comey the Terrible" targeted the destruction of Martha Stewart with bogus charges, including a big-time trumped-up charge with a 10-year prison term and a $2 million fine that was thrown out in court as bizarre, ludicrous, baseless and absurd.   The Martha Stewart case stands in condemnation of Comey, a blot on American democracy, and a repudiation of the American constitution.

The media is America's worse enemy fawning over and brainwashing Americans on Comey with "broad bipartisan support," "sterling resume," "top prosecutor," "leadership," "a hero"....completely disguising a vicious zealot.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Just a quick reminder of one of the crimes against the US committed by Paule's pal Alberto.

Gonzales' tenure should have long since come to an end with the December 2005 revelations surrounding the illegal domestic surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency.

Despite the clear statutory language of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the Attorney General has consistently maintained the President's inherent powers as Commander-in-Chief allow the Bush administration to wiretap the communications of American citizens without seeking the required FISA court warrants.  As he told the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 6th, 2006:

"From the very outset, before the program actually commenced, it has always been the position that FISA cannot be interpreted in a way that infringes upon the president's constitutional authority."

Despite an overwhelming consensus of constitutional scholars to the contrary, Gonzales' Department of Justice claimed that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) and the wartime Commander-in-Chief powers give President Bush the statutory and constitutional basis for sidestepping the FISA process for domestic electronic surveillance.  But as I wrote last February ("The Republicans' Constitutional Crisis"), Gonzales and his allies are downright sheepish when it comes to stating the logical conclusion of their position: that FISA itself is unconstitutional. Their trepidation is well founded; as a matter of law and of politics, an attack by Republicans on the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is bound to fail.

It is worth noting that Gonzales' January 2007 flip-flop on court approval for wiretapping Americans' international communications had less to do with a change of heart than with a change of control in Congress.  Even more important, the Attorney General may have obstructed justice in getting President Bush to effectively block an April 2006 investigation into Gonzales' own role in the NSA program by withholding needed security clearances from the DOJ's own Office of Professional Responsibility.

5. John Yoo, the Unitary Executive and Unchecked War Powers
No review of Gonzales' essential role in the dangerous and unfounded expansion of presidential power would be complete without a discussion of John Yoo.  Yoo, Gonzales' one-time underling at the White House Counsel's office and now a professor at the University of California, was the architect behind virtually every Bush administration attempt to establish unchecked war powers.

In an infamous 2001 memo, Yoo described presidential powers as Commander-in-Chief that would be both unlimited and unchecked:

"We think it beyond question that the President has the plenary constitutional power to take such military actions as he deems necessary and appropriate to respond to the terrorist attacks upon the United States on September 11, 2001...Neither statute, however, can place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the President alone to make."

As Gonzales' dark theoretician of the imperial presidency, Yoo's handiwork is behind almost every Bush administration blight on American tradition of civil liberties and governmental checks and balances.  From establishing "enemy combatants", helping sculpt the NSA domestic spying program to advocating the secret detention of terror suspects and defining torture only as "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death," Yoo was Gonzales' right-hand man.

6.  Rendering the Geneva Conventions "Quaint"
With Yoo, Alberto Gonzales has laid the theoretical framework for American torture of detainees in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and in secret "black" prisons around the world.

It was, after all, Gonzales' own tortured January 25, 2002 memo while White House Counsel that declared the Geneva Conventions "quaint."  He provided the rationale behind the establishment of enemy combatant status for Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, proscribing prisoner of war protections for them.


jmac
jmac

As noted by the comments from ahandout - this is a nomination that will send the right into  a tizzy.  As much so as Obama getting Osama Bin Ladin.  

ahandout
ahandout

You know, I lived through Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.  I was against Nixon back in the day.  Who are you trying to BS?  This is so much Bovine feces that I really am surprised that Time ran with it.

Give me a F ing break.  Gee, a president up to his chinny chin chin in scandals tries to act like he's above it all by nominating a "tough cop."  Has he asked Holder to resign? Nope.

Has he taken any responsibility for anything? Nope.

BS to the tenth degree.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Good. Having him recount the past should remind people what a real political scandal looks like and make the GOP look like scandal mongering hypocrites in the process.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

On a footing where we could certify to it's legality.

The irony is of course that Gonzoles and Yoo set the bar is so low that the above phrase means elevating to 'troubling' something which would otherwise be 'absolutely appalling.'


PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

Let's hope he gets confirmed before the 2016 election.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@ahandout 

Rod, honor your bet and piss off. We know it's you. There's only one moron in the swamp that yammer on about Sanger over the years and that's you.

Be a man for once.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ahandout And were you against Bush as well? The Ashcroft hospital bed incident alone is much much worse than anything the GOP has claimed on Obama. In your memory when was the last time you have seen the Attorney General, the FBI director and much of their staff threaten to resign over the unlawful overreach of the Presidential Administration? And yet that is exactly what happen in 2004 under GWB.

cent-fan
cent-fan

Or before the technology exists to clone J. Edgar Hoover.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@MrObvious @ahandout Rod is from PA and hates Black people. ahandout is from CA and hates Mexicans. I know it's difficult to keep them straight.