Wednesday, September 14, 2016

M.N.: The coordinated political attack on the FBI Director might indicate that Mr. Trump, his camp, and the Russians lurking behind them, want to remove or neutralize Mr. Comey as the guardian of the American democratic process and free elections. In defense of Mr. Comey, not that he needs it, but out of fairness - regarding "The Case Against James Comey" - POLITICO Magazine | In Defense of Jim Comey: Politico's Bizarrely Shoddy Attack on the FBI Director - Lawfare

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Text and Links Update: 9.16.16


"Politico should give some serious thought to how it came to publish this piece. The facts it reports do not remotely support the conclusion the article puts forth. And at least a few big facts the article contains are also not true. An after-action report on this journalistic train wreck would be valuable." 

M.N.: This "shoddiness" betrays the Trump's "Russian Baroque" style. I just smell it. 
The coordinated political attack on the FBI Director might indicate that Mr. Trump, his camp, and the Russians lurking behind them, want to remove or neutralize Mr. Comey as the guardian of the American democratic process and free elections. 
___________________________________________

In defense of Mr. Comey, not that he needs it, but out of fairness. 
In the circumstances, where the FBI has "no clearly defined legislative charter—in fact, no charter at all—the FBI wields more power over the lives of ordinary Americans than any other agency of government", the personal qualities of the FBI Director play the very important role and might have the enormous, sometimes the decisive significance. This might not be the best of arrangements and not the best model of democratic governing, but that how it is , and this arrangement is a part of the very specific and unique line and nature of the FBI work and duties. 

"Those who know Comey describe him as a good and decent man, a brilliant attorney, and a dedicated public servant without any whiff of politics about him." So far no one disputed or doubted these broadly held impressions. I think that we are better off when this position is occupied by a person with close to impeccable moral values and credentials than by someone who is lacking them. The good, old-fashioned, if somewhat mechanical and rigid moral compass is preferable to the new digital toys which might dysfunction or break down under the various interferences. 


This looks like an attack on the FBI Director, which is politically motivated and is probably directed from the Trump's camp. See the Breitbart article on this subject: "
Boy, that’s a real smoking gun. This “scandal” is pure air." 

What are the "charges"


"...Comey has wielded the powers of the directorship more aggressively than anyone since Hoover..."

He crossed "...the fine line that separates independence from unaccountability... Comey just as untouchable as Hoover once was—and perhaps nearly as troublesome... “[Comey] is totally acting inappropriately..." 

These charges do not hold water. 

It is the FBI Director's job to exercise the "soft power" of persuasion and influence, to share his views when it is needed (and it was needed), to explain and to reason, to maintain the social peace, trust, and cohesion, to prevent the looming social disasters; in one word, to speak the truth, as he sees it. These duties come even more into relief under the conditions of the certain "soft power vacuum", confusion or ambivalence from above. By the nature of his job, the FBI Director is accountable first of all and most of all to the American people. What are the transgressions that "cross the line into unaccountability"? 

With regard to “a streak of self-righteousness and a flair for melodrama that has at times clouded his judgment”, assuming that there might be some truth in this description, is it not almost a universal feature of functioning of many high officials? This is not a transgression, this is a style, just as his alleged "disregard for institutional comity", which might be more of an asset than a liability. 


The postulated risk that "Jim may get on the high horse and threaten to resign or take some other action unless things go the way he believes they should", is not a transgression, but also a style and a sign of something that is called "integrity", "the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness." 


The article also mentions that "his “streak of self-righteousness,” now essentially unchecked, has made him the most isolated, outspoken and openly defiant FBI director since Hoover." Good for him! 


"This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man." 

All the above "charges" are just the decoration for the main point and thesis: 

"It is his apparent eagerness to interfere with policymaking functions of the executive branch—functions that normally fall outside the purview of law enforcement—that sets him apart from his predecessors. In contravention of interagency process and in open defiance of the White House, Comey has increasingly strayed from the FBI’s traditional “lane”—even as he has widened that lane by asserting unprecedented law enforcement authority." To translate this phrase into a regular, plain and simple language, "Watch out, guy! Whom are you setting yourself up against?"

The roots of J.Edgar Hoover's political power were in his potential ability for blackmail: 

"According to President Harry S. Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. Truman stated: "we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him."

What are the roots of J. Comey's political power? I doubt very much that they are in his potential ability for blackmail. This is not in his character, and the times are different; the society is more mature, the leaders have different sets of criteria, objectives, and  definitions of power and threats to it, although the old sets are still very much in place. 


It seems to me that J. Comey's powers are mostly the ability for understanding, accurate analysis, pro-active stance, social influence and persuasion, which are much more, and on a large scale, much more effective than the traditional law enforcement powers of coercion


Let us take a look at the facts. 



"Ferguson effect": the Director was correct and apolitical, and if anything, quite the common sense in his assessment, and it diverged from the one of the White House (which apparently was political). He did not shy away from this difficult subject, expressed his views on race, trying to initiate an important and healing discussion on this subject and admitted that the Bureau does not have the consistent and reliable, or any statistics on "police murders" with breakdown by "racial factors or targets" and also killings of police officers, the ugly epidemic, that we witnessed (the racial factors in these cases were hardly mentioned by the press, but were evident). It looked like the "race war" was about to start, and we still do not know, to what degree it was deliberately instigated, including, probably, from abroad. The Director tried to calm the passions and to be fair to both and to all sides, without taking these sides. The collection of these statistics was initiated, which hopefully will lead to the objective and dispassionate evaluation of these issues. At mean time, the study that came from Harvard, overturned the assumptions that the police shoots disproportionally more at black people; just the opposite, the white people are shot at more frequently, although the number of police forceful interactions is more with blacks, the study found. 

"new study confirms that black men and women are treated differently in the hands of law enforcement. They are more likely to be touched, handcuffed, pushed to the ground or pepper-sprayed by a police officer, even after accounting for how, where and when they encounter the police. But when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias... In shootings in these 10 cities involving officers, officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white. Black and white civilians involved in police shootings were equally likely to have been carrying a weapon. Both results undercut the idea of racial bias in police use of lethal force."


With regard to "Ferguson effect", "In May of 2016, Rosenfeld conceded that after a deeper analysis of the data from 2015 that "some version" of the Ferguson Effect may be real. Rosenfeld further commented that “These aren’t flukes or blips, this is a real increase. We need to figure out why it happened. The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” Rosenfeld said. Now, he said, that’s his “leading hypothesis”.[11]" 


Thus, we might conclude that the criticism of the FBI Director on this issue is not justified. 


Hillary Clinton's email Investigation. This is the issue that arouses a lot of partisan rage and vitriol. Prior to Mr. Comey's announcement on "no charges" on 7.5.16, amid the "Sturm und Drang" of political emotions, a very balanced, lawyerly and clear-headed article appeared in the ABC News, which summed up the case and made its conclusions: "ANALYSIS: No, Hillary Clinton Did Not Commit a Crime ... at Least Based on What We Know Today": ...based on what we do know from what has been made public, there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate basis for any sort of criminal charge against her. I fear many commentators are allowing their analysis to become clouded by a long standing distrust, or even hatred of Hillary Clinton." In making this decision, which was ultimately his, Mr. Comey acted first of all as a lawyer, and a good one. 

The non-stop political criticism of this decision and his personal explanations of it (they were needed because the issue seemed to be so controversial) is also not justified. 


Some observers cited in the article compared "this public recounting of evidence" to "extrajudicial smear campaigns—like the ones Hoover carried out against public figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Nothing can be further from the truth. The point was in the distinction between the criminal case requiring the incontrovertible legal evidence and firm legal proofs which were absent, and the non-criminal lack of precautions, of which almost everyone using the email was "guilty" of. Who could foresee that these emails will become the target for hackers? If someone, including the FBI, could foresee it, they should have warned Mrs. Clinton about the dangers. She acted in good faith, without any malicious intents, that her emails will be more secure on a private server. The recent publication of Colin Powell's hacked emails is the case in point. Was it foreseen? Apparently, it was not, and this is the case with many other people, officials or not. This is a novel threat. 
The facetious suggestions of "degree in psychiatry" and "reading minds" regarding "criminal intents" are misplaced: psychiatrists are not able to read minds any more than others, and there is no need for this "mind reading" in the light of the legal facts and the legal reasoning. 
The Politico article states that "what is most troubling is that, at its core, the whole affair had relatively little to do with Hillary Clinton. It was, in Comey’s own words, a “way to maximize” his agency’s reputation: a bid to advance not the interests of justice, but the interests of James Comey." 
It is difficult to comment on this point, which is almost irrelevant: what agency and what officials do not care about their reputations, their own interests or personal advancements? These are the universal nature and the rules of the game. The same applies to the statement that "it is no small irony that the future of America’s premier law enforcement agency is bound, inextricably, to the actions of a single man." It is a universal feature of the government agencies and business enterprises to be directed by a "single man" or a single woman". This is a historically formed and apparently the most efficient design and a set-up of leadership. The points in question are the personalities and the abilities of the leaders and their relationships with their working groups. 

Apparently, there are some important issues within the FBI which become visible after intensive and prolonged "scratching of surface": internecine competitive rivalries, struggles, and resentments, the change-resistant institutional culture, some degree of demoralisation due to the enormous difficulties in conducting the efficient war on terror, occasional "bad apples", etc., etc. The conflict between the upper echelons and rank and file might be one of them, as exemplified in this quote: 

"Here’s the problem. Director Comey was appointed for a ten year, non negotiable term as Director of the FBI. But, he is not one of us. He does not come out of any law enforcement agency. He has no street credentials, he has made no apprehensions, he has conducted no crime scenes or felony interrogations. He is a Dept. of Justice lawyer whose job it was was to receive the product of federal investigators and convict criminals in a court of law.
Having a non-company agent, one who has not come up through the ranks by hard work, smarts and leadership, is anathema to most agency employees."
To direct this very complex institution is not an easy task. To reform and to transform it might seem almost impossible, even if it is absolutely vital. Here these "intangible moral qualities" of the FBI Director come into play. 

FBI has a lot of issues to work on, and a lot of issues that do deserve criticism. But to help them with these issues, we have to afford them the same prerequisite that we expect from them: the basic and objective fairness. 

The author of the article claims that "Comey has significantly eroded the self-restraint that constitutes our last check upon his exercise of power." 


What is the evidence, what are the facts? 

These days, "our own sense of self-restraint" is not "the only check upon our own exercise of power", there are many checks and balances that monitor, control and prevent the FBI's abuses of power which still do happen. 

“I think there is a danger here,” says Akerman. “This is not something that can be countenanced. ... What [Comey] did goes totally contrary to our system of justice.” 
This is a really heavy charge. 
What is the evidence, what are the facts? 

In this regard, it seems to me, there no grounds for "the case against James Comey". If anything, this article (and other articles, which seem to be somewhat in concert with each other), sounds like the implicit threat and warning: "If you don't do what the future President Trump wants you to do, he will fire you." 


And this might be the real case, charge, threat, and danger. 


The author, Riley Roberts, who "was a speechwriter for former Attorney General Eric Holder", prognosticates that Mr. Comey might have problems with any of the two potential new Administrations: with Mrs. Clinton, due to the "decades of bad blood", who will "give Comey an unusually wide berth" in order to avoid the "accusations of politicization", and with Mr. Trump, with whom the "clashes would be virtually inevitable". 


"We can only hope that Comey will rediscover his sense of self-restraint", the author says. The predictions and prognostications are always very difficult to make. We'll live, we'll see. 


My only thought is that the rediscovery of the "sense of self-restraint" might be advisable not only to the "obstreperous" FBI Directors but to the many others, including the "obstreperous" former speech writers as well, who might have their own memories and their own assignments or agendas. 


Generally speaking, the introduction of some composite, objective, quantitative measurement instruments (the "metrics") into the periodic assessments of the FBI performance by Congress, rather than  or in addition to the case based ("anecdotal") type of assessments, should improve the quality, objectivity, and the practical impact of these assessments.   

Michael Novakhov

_______________________________________

Quotes:


"Although commonly misconceived as a kind of national police force, the FBI is actually, in the words of author Tim Weiner, “a secret intelligence service.” With a broad mandate “[t]o protect the American people and uphold the Constitution,” expansive authority to investigate individuals and organizations across the United States, and no clearly defined legislative charter—in fact, no charter at all—the FBI wields more power over the lives of ordinary Americans than any other agency of government... 



Later, when issues of race and policing surged in the headlines, the director again infuriated the president by asserting that violence against law enforcement is exacerbated by a so-called Ferguson effect: the notion that scrutiny of police officers somehow encourages their murder.
“I don’t know whether that explains it entirely,” he said in an October 2015 speech, “but I do have a strong sense that some part of the explanation is a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.” This concept has been thoroughly debunked by academics, discredited by groups like The Sentencing Project, and rejected by Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Yet, inexplicably, Comey has continued to advance this specious claim, reaffirming his belief in a “viral video effect” as recently as May—even after an Oval Office meeting intended to brush him back... 


Unlike his most infamous predecessor, James Comey is no tyrant. He harbors none of the naked ambition, petty insecurity, or thirst for power that made J. Edgar Hoover so insidious. On the contrary: Those who know Comey describe him as a good and decent man, a brilliant attorney, and a dedicated public servant without any whiff of politics about him.
“This is somebody who grew up in a variety of administrations, and was able to, I think, do a remarkable job of … always trying to do the right thing,” says Richman. “Hewing to that as your only goal is a really good start. Even if you don’t have divine wisdom to know what the right thing is, at least trying to get there is the beginning of a very promising relationship with power.”...

This is the James Comey that so many have come to admire over the course of his long and distinguished career: a man of depth and compassion. There is every reason to believe that he comes by his convictions honestly. But there, perhaps, is the rub: In his zeal to deliver results that reflect his own deeply-held conception of justice, Comey has significantly eroded the self-restraint that constitutes our last check upon his exercise of power.
"



"There seems no logical reason for Comey's conduct.  Some say that Comey wanted to put the facts out and let the voters decide whether to vote for her because he did not want to be the one to remove a presidential candidate from the race.  But had he simply referred the facts to the Justice Department, then the Justice Department would have made the decision.  If this is his reason, then he acted out of politics and not justice based on the facts.  He did not do his job.  He acted like a politician not an FBI man.
Comey showed poor judgment both in the investigation and in taking it upon himself to announce there would be no indictment."

"May I offer my congratulations to FBI Director James Comey? Since he determined that Hillary Clinton should not be indicted because she did not show intent in her reckless handling of our country's secrets, he must have obtained a degree in psychiatry. How could anyone, especially a person not properly trained, determine what is in the mind of anyone else? It would be gratifying if Comey could explain this aspect of his decision."

____________________________________

In Defense of Jim Comey: Politico's Bizarrely Shoddy Attack on the FBI Director 

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An astonishingly bad piece appeared in Politico this week under an admittedly arresting headline: “The Case Against James Comey: Not Since Hoover Has an FBI Director Shown Such a Lack of Accountability.”
Written by a gentleman named Riley Roberts, a former speechwriter for Eric Holder, it’s the kind of piece that should prompt a certain amount of soul-searching at the publication that agreed to publish it. The thesis is bold. The evidence is shockingly weak. Critical history and information is left out. Quotations are seemingly intentionally distorted. And important information in the story is just wrong.
Let me be very candid in this disclosure: Jim Comey is a friend. Anyone who wants to disregard my critique of this article on that basis should feel free to do so. That said, I don’t think my judgment is clouded here. The Politico piece is a really bad article. And it’s worth spending some time taking it apart.
Roberts’s basic thesis is that “there is a growing consensus that Comey has wielded the powers of the directorship more aggressively than anyone since Hoover—to the consternation, and even anger, of some of his colleagues.” He writes: "Since taking office, Comey has repeatedly injected his views into executive branch deliberations on issues such as sentencing reform and the roots of violence against police officers. He has undermined key presidential priorities such as crafting a coherent federal policy on cybersecurity and encryption. Most recently, he shattered longstanding precedent by publicly offering his own conclusions about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email."
Roberts's broad thesis is wrong. There is absolutely no consensus about the aggressiveness with which Comey has wielded the powers of the directorship. Comey has his detractors, and he has his admirers.
The notion that Comey has been more unaccountably indepdendent than prior directors is also wrong. Given the long-term, semi-public, multi-front warfare between the Clinton White House and FBI Director Louis Freeh, there simply is not a defensible argument that Comey has out-flanked Freeh in the fifth column department. Freeh’s name does not appear in Roberts’s article. It's a big omission. Freeh publically sparred with the White House and with Attorney General Janet Reno over any number of issues, most famously the conduct of investigations related to campaign finance. Whatever one thinks of the merits of those issues, it simply is not credible to claim that Comey is wielding independent power in a fashion unprecedented since Hoover without a serious examination of Freeh’s tenure.
Yet that is exactly what Roberts does. Since the Clinton email announcement, he writes, “even some of Comey’s supporters have been forced to concede that his exercise of power has been without precedent in the post-Hoover era. Among dozens of current and former Justice Department officials, this realization has given way to a rising sense of alarm: that our next president will find Comey just as untouchable as Hoover once was—and perhaps nearly as troublesome.”
Roberts does not quote dozens of current and former Justice Department officials expressing this “rising sense of alarm.” In fact, he quotes only four contemporary analysts in making his case.
One of them is me.
Roberts quotes the following passage from a piece I wrote expressing anxiety about the civil liberties precedent of Comey’s public statement and testimony about the Clinton email disposition: “There is something horrible about watching a senior government official, who has used the coercive investigative capacities of the federal government, make public judgments about a subject's conduct which the Justice Department is not prepared to indict.”
Here’s the context of that quotation that Roberts doesn’t bother to quote:
Let me start by saying that I do not dissent from FBI Director James Comey's decision to give the remarkably fulsome account we saw this week of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, both in his lengthy statement Tuesday and, particularly, in his marathon testimony yesterday. . . . In his testimony yesterday, he made clear that the extraordinary nature of a criminal investigation of a person who is about to be nominated for President by a major party demanded a degree of transparency that is atypical and that would satisfy reasonable people that the bureau had followed the regular order. That seems right. He was in an impossible position, made far more so by the almost mind-boggling decision of Bill Clinton to publicly compromise the attorney general. Comey's testimony was extraordinary in its candor, both as to his reasoning on his decision not to recommend prosecution and as to the often-minute details of the FBI's findings. To my mind, it was also entirely persuasive.
To be clear, no part of me agrees with any part of Roberts’s thesis, and to the extent my words can be used to support it, they can be used only if quoted very selectively.
Whom else does Roberts quote? Well, there’s Columbia professor Dan Richman, a long-time Comey friend and adviser. Richman, like me, has no rising sense of alarm at Comey’s behavior and told me today that he certainly does not agree with the article’s thesis either.
Roberts also quotes two other people—one a criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor and one who like the author, curiously enought, also worked as a PR aide for Holder. Hmmmm.
The legions of the alarmed, in other words, while asserted repeatedly throughout the piece, never show up in it. They are entirely mythical. There aren’t even anonymous sources. The author literally quotes not a single current Justice Department official in support of his bold claims. The closest he gets is this general citation:
Behind the scenes, others in the executive branch have been considerably less circumspect. “It’s really tough for all the attorneys [to speak out], because they all have to practice before DOJ,” says Matt Miller, who led the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs from 2009 to 2011. “But I’ve heard from dozens of officials, both current and former, and not one of them agreed with [Comey’s] decision to hold the press conference.”
By and large, Justice Department lawyers have declined to criticize Comey in public, for fear of angering the FBI director. But in personal conversations and expletive-laden email threads, many were apoplectic at his handling of the Clinton case. One aide described senior officials who should have been involved in the announcement scrambling to watch it on television. Some were particularly incensed by the editorial commentary sprinkled throughout Comey’s statement.
For the record, it simply is not true that it’s really tough for DOJ attorneys to speak out about things that are really bothering them. During the Freeh-Clinton wars, I was working as an editorial writer at the Washington Post. I can personally assure Miller and Roberts that senior Justice Department officials are perfectly capable of venting their frustrations about the FBI director to journalists on background. Sometimes, they even use their flacks to do it for them. 
There is, in other words, a reason for the lack of direct sourcing for any of the major claims in this article about the supposedly pervasive attitude at the Justice Department. I think it's that the central claim isn’t true. I spend a lot of time with Justice Department lawyers, current and former—including today, when I was at National Security Division’s 10th anniversary conference. I heard one current DOJ lawyer rhapsodize about Comey's speech at the same conference. I didn't hear anyone worrying about his Hoover-like powermongering. I just don’t think there are dozens of angry attorneys seething about and quaking with fear at the power-mad Comey. Yes, he’s done some things that have pissed people off. And yes, some people think he’s a bit prissy and self-righteous. But the belief that there is some great Comey menace is just not a meme sweeping the Justice Department.
To make Comey into this menace, Roberts has to do more than fantasize armies of alarmed Justice Department veterans. He has to make Comey seem all-powerful too. And in doing so, he says a lot of stuff that’s just dumb.
“It was in 1936,” he writes, “the year after the Bureau of Investigation adopted the word ‘Federal,’ and became the FBI—that Supreme Court Justice Harlan Fiske Stone wrote, of himself and his colleagues on the bench, that ‘the only check upon our own exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint.’ The same is true of the modern FBI director.”
Actually, the same is not remotely true of the FBI director. The FBI director can be fired by the president, and one post-Hoover director has been fired. To the extent he behaves illegally, the courts have a lot of recourse, starting with the suppression of evidence. The Justice Department also can refuse to bring criminal cases the bureau develops. The FBI director is certainly a powerful figure, but he’s not a god. And lots of actors have levers to pull if they don’t like the way Comey is behaving.
Okay, you say, so maybe Roberts is overstating the matter. But surely he has some evidence that Comey is amassing power and behaving in an unaccountable fashion. Actually not. Here is all of the evidence Roberts cites in the piece of Comey’s Hoover-like behavior:
  • He spoke in defense of mandatory minimum sentences while the administration was trying to effectuate sentencing reform.
  • He suggested publicly that there may be a “Ferguson effect” in which police are being less dilligent because of fears of cameras and fears of being accused of racism.
  • He allegedly scuttled an administration encryption initiative.
  • He held his press conference and gave testimony and released documents on the Clinton email matter.
That’s it. That’s the sum total of the alleged power grab.
Note that these alleged offenses are not remotely of equal weight. The first two amount to nothing more than Comey’s having expressed his opinions on matters of policy concern in criminal justice areas, which is kind of his field. One can agree or disagree with him on either of them (I hate mandatory minimums, myself), but there is nothing wrong with the FBI director’s giving his view of the effect of policy changes on law enforcement. And surely, even if one accepts that Comey has strayed from his lane by expressing these beliefs, such deviations from administration positions by an official appointed to a term of years precisely to guarantee his independence is not the stuff of J. Edgar Hoover.
The scuttling of an encryption initiative would admittedly be more grievous. Writes Roberts,
And early this year, when FBI agents were unable to access an iPhone belonging to the alleged perpetrator of the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack, Comey steamrolled his White House and Pentagon colleagues—even scuttling an administration-wide encryption policy that was under development—by insisting that Apple be forced to unlock the phone for the government.
The trouble is that the incident is entirely fictitious. There was no administration-wide encryption policy developing. There was a fierce, intense interagency discussion that was nowhere approaching any kind of consensus. The Justice Department, by the way, litigated the Apple case, and it did so even while litigating previous cases it was already pursuing regarding other iPhones. Readers of this site know these cases well. The administration is genuinely divided on encryption. And if the President clearly disagreed with Comey, Comey would lose this fight tomorrow. The reason Comey’s position has had staying power is that the Justice Department and much of the intelligence community supports it, and the President himself clearly has some sympathy for law enforcement’s concerns. The result is a policy deadlock. 
So that leaves the Hillary Clinton email matter, on which Comey’s behavior is legitimately controversial. I have expressed my own anxieties about the precedent Comey has set in that case. So I’m not arguing here that there are no grounds for criticism. But Roberts leaves out a critical fact from his account: the small matter of Bill Clinton’s getting on Attorney General Lynch’s airplane the week before the investigation was to publicly conclude.
This put Comey, and Lynch for that matter, in an absolutely untenable position. If he made his recommendations quietly and Lynch acted on them, as Roberts alleged would have been proper, the decision would have had no credibility whatsoever. If Comey did not explain himself, the situation would simply fester and conspiracy theories would too. I am not at all sure whether Comey made the right choice here or not (see the piece I wrote that Roberts quotes), but it was a very hard call, and the situation was a lose-lose proposition. This is not Hoover territory by any means.
So tendentious is Roberts’s treatment of the Clinton matter that the section on it closes with a passage that is perilously close to simple fraud:
In the final analysis, what is most troubling about Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case is not the fact that it represents an escalation of an established pattern—or even that there is no mechanism for preventing a repeat performance. What is most troubling is that, at its core, the whole affair had relatively little to do with Hillary Clinton. It was, in Comey’s own words, a “way to maximize” his agency’s reputation: a bid to advance not the interests of justice, but the interests of James Comey.
Do you really believe that the FBI director actually said that his goal in the Clinton email affair was to maximize his agency’s reputation and to advance his own interests? I didn’t either. And guess what? He didn’t. Here’s what Comey actually said at an ABA event in San Francisco in August, in response to a question about why he announced the results of the email investigation:
​What was different about this was we decided to share particularly our recommendation and our evaluation of the case....First of all, I thought transparency was in order given the extraordinary interest in the matter from the American people, and Justice Department policy and regs recognized that there may be circumstances of extraordinary public interest, and this struck me if there ever was one, this is it. I thought it was important for the FBI to speak about this because I thought that was the way most likely to offer a transparency that would reassure the American people [that] this investigation was done in the right way. I thought given all the other things going on, an independent statement by the FBI was consistent with three things that I care deeply about. The reputation of the FBI, the reputation of the entire Justice Department, and a broader sense of justice in the country. I thought the way to maximize all three of those was to do something unprecedented, which was an entirely independent statement.
Politico should give some serious thought to how it came to publish this piece. The facts it reports do not remotely support the conclusion the article puts forth. And at least a few big facts the article contains are also not true. An after-action report on this journalistic train wreck would be valuable.
Read the whole story

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Today's Headlines and Commentary 









Posts - 9.14.16


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The Case Against James Comey - POLITICO Magazine

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Breitbart News



POLITICO Magazine
With hard, hooded eyes and a pugilistic bearing, J. Edgar Hoover's official portrait glowers—face fixed in a bulldog scowl—down the hallways of the FBI's Washington headquarters. Even the building itself—a crumbling brutalist cathedral, windowless ...
Blog: Sharyl Attkisson provides an essential guide to the FBI's report ...
 American Thinker (blog)
Exposed: FBI Director James Comey's Clinton Foundation ConnectionBreitbart News

all 23 news articles »

Federal Judge Rules FBI Can't Hack Someone's Computer Without Warrant - Slate Magazine (blog)

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Slate Magazine (blog)



Federal Judge Rules FBI Can't Hack Someone's Computer Without Warrant
Slate Magazine (blog)
Last year, the FBI used a hacking tool, the innocuously named Network Investigative Technique, to identify people who had trafficked in child pornography on a website called Playpen. Catching bad guys: Good. Remotely slipping malware—and then denying ...
FBI will need a warrant to hack into someone's computer, US judge rulesInternational Business Times UK
FBI has quiet plan for mass hackingiTWire
FBI needs a warrant to hack your computer, judge rulesIT PRO 
all 10
 Hacking Someone's PC Using A Malware Is Obviously A “Search”, Court RulesFossbytes
Federal Judge: Hacking Someone's Computer Is Definitely a 'Search'Motherboard

all 7 news articles »

House Oversight subpoenas FBI for Clinton investigation documents - The Hill

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The Hill



House Oversight subpoenas FBI for Clinton investigation documents
The Hill
“Will the FBI provide to Congress the full file with no redactions of personally-identifiable information?” Chaffetz asked Jason Herring, the FBI's acting assistant director for congressional affairs, during a late afternoon hearing on the documents ...
Exposed: FBI Director James Comey's Clinton Foundation ConnectionBreitbart News

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Lawmaker issues subpoena to FBI for Clinton probe records - Fox News

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Fox News



Lawmaker issues subpoena to FBI for Clinton probe records
Fox News
A powerful Republican lawmaker abruptly stopped a hearing Monday on Capitol Hill to serve a subpoena demanding the FBI's full investigative file on the Hillary Clinton email probe to a top official, telling the man “you are hereby served.” The dramatic ...
Chaffetz subpoenas FBI for full Clinton email probe filePolitico
Hillary Clinton email server investigation leads to oversight subpoena of FBIWashington Times
FBI Official Admits to Congress: The Clinton Case Was 'Different in a Lot of Ways'Breitbart News
Daily Caller-Bloomberg
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Former Attorney General Speechwriter: James Comey Most Autonomous FBI Director Since J. Edgar Hoover - Techdirt

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Washington Examiner (blog)



Former Attorney General Speechwriter: James Comey Most Autonomous FBI Director Since J. Edgar Hoover
Techdirt
Roberts says no FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover has acted with such autonomy. The unprecedented public discussion of the agency's Clinton email investigation is just one such example. While Comey was undoubtedly correct that there was significant ...
FBI Director Comey refused to testify on Clinton emailsWashington Examiner (blog)
The Case Against James ComeyPOLITICO Magazine
Exposed: FBI Director James Comey's Clinton Foundation ConnectionBreitbart News
WZVN-TV
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FBI refuses to say why an agent killed a Compton man - 89.3 KPCC

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89.3 KPCC



FBI refuses to say why an agent killed a Compton man
89.3 KPCC
It's been nearly three weeks since an FBI agent fatally shot 31-year-old David Coborubio during a nighttime raid on the house in Compton where he lived. Yet the agency has yet to explain why agents had to use deadly force against Coborubio, who was not ...
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