DETROIT — Just in case you were wondering, the answer is Yes.
FBI Director James B. Comey, who was in Detroit Tuesday to visit with the local agents and law enforcement folks, told reporters that he keeps in touch with the man he replaced, Robert S. Mueller III.
“He’s been a friend of mine a long time, so I talked to him a lot before coming and I’ve talked to him a number of times since then,” Comey said.
“I guess I don’t want to get into particulars or count the times, but he remains a friend of mine. ”
And then he added with a smile:
“And everything that goes wrong I’m blaming on him.”
Comey fielded questions from reporters about Detroit after meeting with law enforcement folks all day.
Detroiters are often convinced that the crime problem — particularly carjackings — is a little more unique here than in other places around the country.
But Comey responded responded to a reporter’s question about that by saying:
“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I don’t think Detroit has any unique criminal problems. These are problems that we see in a lot of cities around the country.”
Comey said the FBI plans to add 300 new agents this year.
Will Detroit be a beneficiary?
“We haven’t yet decided where the 300 new agents are going to go,” Comey said. “That will obviously be based on need and where there are risks that are unaddressed. And so Detroit will obviously be part of that conversation, but it’s too early for me to say.”
Comey said the FBI was helping battle the violent crime in Detroit by participating in local task forces, and he acknowledged that cities like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland are up against some very tough crime issues.
Still, he emphasized that counterterrorism and counterintelligence remained the FBI’s top priority here and around the country.
He said he’s concerned about the thousands of foreigners training in Syria and where they might wind up after they leave. He also had concerns about home grown violent extremists and lost souls influenced by the propaganda on the Internet.
“So it’s why it’s so important for us to remember the importance of our counterterrorism mission everywhere in the United States.”
Comey also waxed philosophical about solving the violent crime problem.
“You can’t arrest your way to a healthy neighborhood,” he said. “You’ve got to arrest in order to create space for something to grow in its place.
“You will weed for ever if you don’t find a way to seed something in the space you’ve created with your weeding and grow a healthy plan. That is a huge and difficult problem well beyond those of us of in law enforcement but that is the answer to violent crime.”
He was also asked about his level of concern for security at the nation’s northern border.
“The southern border I worry about, the northern border I don’t,” he said.