The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) felt compelled to comment on Obama’s May 30 announcement of his choice of James Comey to head the FBI:
While the ACLU does not take official positions on nominations to appointed office, there are many questions regarding Comey’s record that deserve careful scrutiny from the Senate Judiciary Committee. 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. . . .
Most relevant to today’s events, Comey authorized Bush’s illegal NSA warrantless eavesdropping program. Comey is a registered Republican who donated to McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. Glenn Greenwald comments on Comey’s nomination with respect to the NSA spying issue:
How are Obama’s most devoted media loyalists reacting to the news that he is about to put in charge of the FBI the Bush lawyer who authorized the illegal NSA warrantless eavesdropping program based on warped right-wing legal theories? Exactly as you would expect. Here’s one of them [Josh Marshall of TPM]—who wrote post after post after post in 2006 and 2007 vehemently denouncing the NSA program which Comey authorized and the theories on which it was based—hailing Comey as “not only non partisan in [his] job but consistently put constitutional equities at center [of his] thinking”.
It is true that Comey was at the center of a dramatic Bush-era political controversy that earned him praise from many Bush critics, including me. Comey was one of the Bush DOJ lawyers who, along with Ashcroft, Goldsmith, and FBI Director Robert Mueller, had threatened to resign if Bush did not modify the NSA program in order to make it legal in Comey’s eyes. He then went to the hospital where Ashcroft was quite ill to prevent then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-White House chief of staff Andy Card from bullying the infirm and barely cogent Attorney General into signing off on the legality of the NSA program. In other words, there was something the NSA was doing for years that we still don’t know—even more extreme than the illegal NSA program revealed by the NYT in 2005. It was Comey, along with Ashcroft, Mueller, and Goldsmith, who threatened to resign if it did not stop, and they deserve credit for that.
But the reason they didn’t end up resigning was because Bush officials “modified” that NSA program into something those lawyers could and did endorse: the still-illegal, still-radical NSA eavesdropping program that spied on the communications of Americans without warrants and in violation of the law. And this was accomplished by inventing a new legal theory to accompany the old one: that Congress, when it enacted the 2001 AUMF, silently and “implicitly” authorized Bush to eavesdrop in exactly the ways the law expressly forbade.
Thus, it was Comey who gave his legal approval to enable that NSA eavesdropping program to spy on Americans without warrants: the same program that produced so much outrage and scandal when revealed by the NYT.
How can any progressive who spent the Bush years vehemently denouncing that domestic spying program as the symbol of Bush radicalism and lawlessness now cheer when the lawyer who approved it is about to be put in charge of the FBI?
Since his election in 2008, Obama has worked to normalize the radical policies of the Bush administration. Obama’s legacy will be that he not only continued, but dramatically expanded Bush’s spying on U.S. citizens. Given the recent revelation, by whistleblower Edward Snowden, of the extent of Obama’s NSA dragnet, his nomination of the man who enabled the NSA to spy on us under Bush makes perfect sense.
But wait, there’s more . . .
Stephen Lendmen, at Global Research, provides us with an annotated resume for James Comey:
From 2005 to 2010, Comey was Lockheed Martin general counsel. It’s the world’s largest weapons maker. It’s the largest war profiteer. It benefits from death and destruction. Comey provided legal cover to do it.
In 2010, he became Bridgewater Associates general counsel. Its web site says it “manages approximately $150 billion in global investments for a wide array of institutional clients, including foreign governments and central banks, corporate and public pension funds, university endowments and charitable foundations.” In 2010 and 2011, it “ranked as the largest and best-performing hedge fund manager in the world, and in both 2012 and 2013 Bridgewater was recognized for having earned its clients more than any other hedge fund in the history of the industry.”
Comey is also a London-based HSBC Holdings board member. HSBC a giant banking and financial services firm. It makes money the old-fashioned way. It steals it. It commits fraud and grand theft multiple ways.
In 2012, [HSBC] paid the largest ever bank-imposed penalty. It settled money-laundering charges for $1.9 billion.
[HSBC] worked with Mexican drug cartels and other crime bosses. Officials involved weren’t prosecuted. They operate freely. They prioritize grand theft. So do other major banks. Government officials permit it. They’re partners in crime.
As general counsel and board member, Comey was intimately involved. Culpability doesn’t matter. It’s true throughout Washington. Rogue officials infest the nation’s capital. Their records speak for themselves.
Democrats praised Comey’s selection. Given their own reprehensible practices, it’s no surprise. His Republican and tainted business credentials don’t matter. He represents corporate empowerment and imperial America. That’s all that counts.