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Tag: John Ashcroft

FBI Director James Comey Becomes a Prisoner of His Boy Scout Image

Scott #1145

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The other day, a commentator on MSNBC described FBI Director James Comey as having a Boy Scout image. That’s a good thing for an FBI director.

The problem is that Comey appears to have become a prisoner of that image, and has placed more importance on  his image and the FBI’s image than the American people, the Justice Department and the presidential election, which is the World Series of democracy in this country.

Simply put, Comey, appeared to be so worried about his image, that he screwed up by firing off a letter notifying Congress  about emails his agents stumbled upon while investigating Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of Huma Abedin. He says he was obligated to update Congressional members.  Plenty disagree with that assumption, at least under the circumstances.

The problem is, at this point, days before the election, Comey has no clue as to what the emails say or what significance they have. It would be different if he knew.  But agents have yet to start reviewing them.

Sure,  Comey should be obsessed about doing the right thing. But doing the right thing isn’t always best for his, nor the FBI’s image. Sometimes you have to take a hit, knowing you’re doing the right thing. In this case, he did  what he thought was the right thing for his and the FBI’s image above all else. It was wrong.

Before Friday, Comey’s image was already under attack by some current and former FBI agents, conservatives on Capitol Hill and the Donald Trump camp — all of whom felt the FBI gave Hillary Clinton and company special treatment during the email probe, and that Clinton should have been indicted.

Comey and his underlings in the bureau have been catching hell for that.

Now, this.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Justice officials reminded the FBI of the department’s position “that we don’t comment on an ongoing investigation. And we don’t take steps that will be viewed as influencing an election,” said one Justice Department official.

“Director Comey understood our position. He heard it from Justice leadership,” the official said. “It was conveyed to the FBI, and Comey made an independent decision to alert the Hill. He is operating independently of the Justice Department. And he knows it.”

I’m sure Comey thought he was doing the right thing, though I wonder if he wasn’t also hoping to make amends with all those who faulted him for not recommending charges against Clinton.

Comey is no stranger to the politics of Washington and the sensitivity of elections.

In March 2004, during the President George W. Bush administration, Comey was deputy Attorney General when he rushed to the intensive care unit where Attorney General John Ashcroft was hospitalized. Comey had learned that White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., were on the way to visit Ashcroft and get him to reauthorize Bush’s domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.

Comey went there and prevented that from happening. Back then, even though it was such an egregious attempt to violate the law, Comey knew better then to come out publicly that year and expose the Bush administration’s highly questionable intentions months before the November election in which Bush was seeking a second term.

I don’t agree with some who suggest that Comey be fired or resign. He is a stand up guy and has been good for the FBI.

But in this case, he screwed up.

On the upside,  Comey has turned Donald Trump around. Trump now thinks he’s A-Ok.

Not many Boy Scouts can say they’ve got Donald Trump in their corner.

 

FBI Director Comey Shares Views of Surveillance in Post-NSA America

James Comey

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

James Comey was on a mission in 2004.

A deputy attorney general at the time, Comey rushed to the bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to notify him that the White House was trying to reauthorize a warrantless eavesdropping program, the Buffalo News reports.

Comey, who is now the director of the FBI, advised his boss not to sign anything.

“I’ve long been a big fan of the rule of law,” Comey said during a visit to Buffalo on Tuesday. “To me, the intelligence programs that are the most firmly rooted in all three branches of our government are the best.”

What’s he think of the controversial NSA program?

“Folks can disagree with the policy and reasonable people do disagree as to whether the federal government should have such a database,” he told reporters. “What can’t be said is that this is some type of rogue, lawless conduct. This was our government operating as it was designed.”

Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft Endorses Romney

John Aschcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The Republican establishment is beginning to line up for GOP hopeful Mitt Romney.

The latest: Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who served under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005,  endorsed Romney on Monday, according to The Hill.

“I admire Mitt’s record of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and defense of traditional values in a politically difficult state for a Republican,” Ashcroft said in a statement, according to The Hill.

“I had the opportunity to work with Mitt Romney on issues of national security during the 2002 Winter Olympics and counted him as a trustworthy, effective ally in the fight against terror while he was governor of Massachusetts. I know that the lives and liberties of the American people will be secure with him as president.”

New York Times Editorial: When it Comes to Basic American Rights, FBI Going Backwards

By The New York Times
Editorial Page

The Obama administration has long been bumbling along in the footsteps of its predecessor when it comes to sacrificing Americans’ basic rights and liberties under the false flag of fighting terrorism. Now the Obama team seems ready to lurch even farther down that dismal road than George W. Bush did.

Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for F.B.I. investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further.

Attorney General John Ashcroft began weakening rights protections after 9/11. Three years ago, his successor, Michael Mukasey, issued rules changes that permit agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to use highly intrusive methods — including lengthy physical surveillance and covert infiltration of lawful groups — even when there is no firm basis for suspecting any wrongdoing.

To read full editorial click here.

Pres. Bush Sent Alberto Gonzales to See Ashcroft in Hospital, The Atlantic Reports

Alberto Gonzales/Fox 34

By Murray Waas
The Atlantic

In March 2004, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales made a now-famous late-night visit to the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft, seeking to get Ashcroft to sign a certification stating that the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was legal. According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit.

The hospital visit is already central to many contemporaneous historical accounts of the Bush presidency. At the time of the visit, Ashcroft had been in intensive care for six days, was heavily medicated, and was recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder.

Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey has said that he believes that Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who accompanied Gonzales to Ashcroft’s hospital room, were trying to take advantage of Ashcroft’s grievously ill state—pressing him to sign the certification possibly without even comprehending what he was doing—and in the process authorize a government surveillance program which both Ashcroft and the Justice Department had concluded was of questionable legality.

To read the whole story click here.

Column: Source Tells Politico Bush Justice Dept. Nixed Prosecution of Islamic Group Tied to Hamas


By Josh Gerstein
Politico

Under President George W. Bush, the Justice Department considered and rejected criminal charges against the Council on American-Islamic Relations for alleged support of Hamas, a knowledgeable source told POLITICO Monday.

The decision not to indict CAIR came in 2004 as prosecutors in Dallas were preparing to seek an indictment of the Holy Land Foundation and five of its officials, the source said. Some prosecutors wanted to include CAIR and others in the case at that time. However, senior Justice Department officials elected not to, the source said. (The Attorney General at the time was John Ashcroft.)

The disclosure of a Bush-era decision not to indict CAIR is noteworthy because some conservatives have alleged in recent days that a Justice Department decision last year to decline prosecution of CAIR, co-founder Omar Ahmad, and others was motivated by politics and a desire to preserve outreach efforts to U.S. Muslim groups.

To read more click here.

Los Angeles Times Editorial: Detainee Should Have Day in Court Against Ex-Atty. Gen. Ashcroft

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By the Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page

Granting a request by the Obama administration, the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether former Atty. Gen. John Aschroft can be sued by a U.S. citizen who says he was wrongly arrested as a material witness.

Rather than reflexively protecting a former government official, the justices should pay close attention to an appeals court opinion explaining why Ashcroft isn’t entitled to immunity.

The case concerns Abdullah Kidd, a convert to Islam who was known as Lavoni Kidd when he played football for the University of Idaho. According to Kidd, in 2003 he was arrested at Dulles International Airport and then shuttled between detention facilities, under the pretense of securing his appearance as a witness at someone else’s trial on visa fraud charges.

Kidd’s arrest was predicated on a false FBI report that Kidd had purchased a one-way ticket to Saudi Arabia.

After two weeks of confinement, Kidd was released to his wife’s custody but deprived of his passport and subjected to limitations on his travel. In 2004, a court lifted the restrictions and dismissed Kidd as a material witness. He was never called to testify at the trial at which he was supposed to be a witness.

Kidd argues that Ashcroft adopted and implemented a policy of using material-witness warrants to detain suspected terrorists when probable cause of their wrongdoing was lacking — a policy that led to his arrest on the basis of a false statement.

To read more click here.

Supreme Court to Hear Case Against Ex-Atty. John Ashcroft

John Ashcroft/doj photo

John Ashcroft/doj photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to examine an interesting issue regarding the aggressive 9/11 practices of the Bush Administration: Can a U.S. citizen who claims he was illegally detained sue former attorney general John D. Ashcroft?

The Washington Post reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Abdullah al-Kidd, a one-time University of Idaho football star who converted to Islam in college, can proceed with his suit that personally holds Ashcroft liable for his detention.

Ashcroft is claim immunity,  and the Obama administration, which is representing him, is asking that the suit be dismissed.

Al-Kidd was headed to Saudi Arabia to study when he arrested at Dulles International Airport in 2003, the Post reported, adding that he was held 15 nights in three states under the federal material-witness statute. He was never charged.

Al-Kidd believes his arrest was part of a bigger plan by the Bush administration to round up Muslims who did not have ties to terrorism.

To read more click here.

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