News Release

New FBI Director Set to Preserve “‘War on Terror’ Mentality”


NPR reports: “Former Justice Department official James B. Comey is in line to become President Obama’s choice as the next FBI director, according to two sources familiar with the search. … Another source told NPR it could be several days before Obama makes a formal announcement.”

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at
Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo described some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures and was named one of Time Magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. She said today: “James Comey was likely selected as new FBI director to preserve the post 9-11 status quo. What’s needed is real change away from the ‘war on terror’ mentality.

“I never got too excited about the calls that periodically arose since 9/11 for Robert Mueller to step down as FBI director after various FBI scandals came to light and after his ten-year appointment term was over. It wasn’t because I had met him that one time in June 2002 before I testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about endemic problems facing the FBI and it wasn’t because Mueller didn’t fire me after my ‘whistleblower memo.’ I pointed instead to how forcing Mueller’s resignation would only serve to most likely put someone worse in that position, especially recalling how John Ashcroft, as bad as he was, was replaced by Alberto Gonzales and then Michael Mukasey, each one worse than their predecessor. (Writers and historians are revealing that Ashcroft actually objected, at the outset, to some of the Bush administration’s unlawful actions although he ultimately went along with most of them.)

“It would be surprising if Obama’s reported selection of former (Bush administration) Deputy Attorney General James Comey to become the new FBI Director will change much, either for better or worse. In fact Comey and Mueller seem cut from similar cloth, with similar backgrounds and outlooks, mostly go along to get along cogs in a bigger machine, who even shared that singularly courageous moment in Ashcroft’s hospital room in 2004 where they banded together to oppose Bush officials Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card who attempted to force a seriously ill AG Ashcroft to sign off on a recertification of some type of illegal, emergency post 9-11 warrantless monitoring order.”

The Minnesota-based Rowley added: “That one-time display of courage by James Comey is probably what led to his being asked to address the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis in 2009, where he was introduced by former Vice President Walter Mondale. But once he made his remarks including recounting the hospital room story again — repeatedly making clear he favored Obama over Bush — and then began answering questions from the audience, it was clear that Comey had not really changed his general worldview regarding all the other post 9-11 illegal actions that he himself had been involved in or was aware of under the name of the ‘war on terror’ even though he said he never liked the term. Probably James Comey’s then-position as legal counsel for Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s top ‘defense’ contractors, had something to do with his more or less pro-war views. …

“I’m afraid Glenn Greenwald’s piece on Comey [“Obama’s new FBI Chief Approved Bush’s NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Scheme“] is quite accurate when he describes all the illegal Bush administration actions that James Comey either signed off on or defended, including the NSA’s warrantless monitoring program; the CIA torture program listing 13 techniques including waterboarding; and the decision to hold incommunicado for over three years and use ‘harsh interrogation tactics’ on Jose Padilla without charges as an ‘enemy combatant.’ Greenwald’s also correct to conclude about Comey’s nomination:

‘What was once deemed radical is now normal. Bush officials who formally authorized programs once depicted by progressives as radical and criminal are now heralded by those same progressives as Champions of the Constitution. The politician elected on a pledge of Change and Restoration of Our Values now routinely empowers exactly those Washington officials who championed the policies against which he railed.’

“Of course the good thing will be that Comey’s confirmation hearing will furnish an opportunity for congressional questioning just as John Brennan’s hearing did. If Congress chooses for once to exercise proper oversight, Comey should be asked all the hard questions as to why he ultimately signed off on the Bush administration’s warrantless monitoring; its torture program and its indefinite detention policies. Because Obama has just given a speech, interpreted by many as saying it’s time to turn away from the lawless ‘war’ policies and deplorable ‘dark side’ tactics, the questioning should go beyond that of John Brennan to become CIA director. If Comey does not apologize and explain how those prior illegal programs occurred, if he does not explain how they can be prevented from reoccurring, and if he does not vow to do what he can to restore rule of law and adherence to the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and international law, he should not be confirmed.

“Comey should be asked especially how he would restore respect for the First Amendment and ‘freedom of the press’ given the DOJ’s and FBI’s pursuing of journalists and their sources in order to investigate and stop news leaks.”