The Obama Administration has once again reaffirmed the new relativism controlling Washington in the nomination of James Comey as the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, even as it struggles to put out the controversy over its attack on free press principles. Comey was a critical player in the abuse warrantless surveillance program of the Bush Administration and will now be put in charge of the people carrying out such surveillance. The Administration has been spinning the nomination by pointing out that it was Comey who opposed efforts of the Bush White House in a famous confrontation by the hospital bed of the Attorney General John Ashcroft. However, while that was admirable, Comey did what all officials in his position are duty bound to do (though few in the Bush Administration fulfilled that obligation). Comey however also was critical in other abuses of warrantless surveillance as well as the abusive treatment of Jose Padilla and Plamegate. He is no hero for civil libertarians by any measure.
Of course, this unconstitutional program and Comey’s role were not fully disclosed because the Obama Administration, like the Bush Administration, opposed (successfully) any ability of individuals or public interest groups to challenge the program in federal court.
Then there is Comey’s knowledge and role in the Bush torture program. While he is known to express reservations, he still went along with the torture program. Soon after taking office, President Obama promised CIA employees that they would not be prosecuted for torture and the Obama Justice Department has blocked every effort to hold officials, including Justice Department officials, accountable.
The media is again following the spin and only reporting Comey’s confrontation on the one surveillance program. Stories are only covering opposition from the right as opposed to his opposition among civil libertarians. Comey is an example that in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King. His opposition to this one program has excused his failure to stand against a host of other violations.