James Comey Won’t Improve the FBI

by | Jul 31, 2013

photo: kalavinka

Expect business as usual at the FBI after Monday’s Senate confirmation of James B. Comey, Jr. to be the Bureau’s new director. Comey had previously served as George W. Bush’s Deputy Attorney General. Every indication is that Comey will lead the FBI in the same trajectory it has traveled under Director Robert S. Mueller’s leadership since September 2001—a trajectory the American Civil Liberties Union outlines as dangerous to liberty in the succinct report “The Ten Most Disturbing Things You Should Know About the FBI Since 9/11.”

Mueller, a Bush appointee, so impressed Obama that Obama extended Mueller’s term an extra two years, making Mueller the second longest serving FBI director after J. Edgar Hoover. In support of the extended term, Obama praised Mueller in May 2011, stating:

In his ten years at the FBI, Bob Mueller has set the gold standard for leading the Bureau. Given the ongoing threats facing the United States, as well as the leadership transitions at other agencies like the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, I believe continuity and stability at the FBI is critical at this time. Bob transformed the FBI after September 11, 2001 into a pre-eminent counterterrorism agency, he has shown extraordinary leadership and effectiveness at protecting our country every day since. He has impeccable law enforcement and national security credentials, a relentless commitment to the rule of law, unquestionable integrity and independence, and a steady hand that has guided the Bureau as it confronts our most serious threats. I am grateful for his leadership, and ask Democrats and Republicans in Congress to join together in extending that leadership for the sake of our nation’s safety and security.

At the June 21 White House announcement of Comey’s nomination, Obama and Comey effusively praised outgoing FBI Director Mueller’s job performance and promised Comey would carry on Mueller’s work. Mueller, also at the announcement, praised Comey and endorsed Comey’s selection for FBI director. Obama stated:

And, Bob, I can’t tell you how personally grateful I am to you and to Ann for your service. I know that everyone here joins me in saying that you will be remembered as one of the finest directors in the history of the FBI, and one of the most admired public servants of our time. And I have to say just personally not only has it been a pleasure to work with Bob, but I know very few people in public life who have shown more integrity more consistently under more pressure than Bob Mueller. (Applause.)

I think Bob will agree with me when I say that we have the perfect person to carry on this work in Jim Comey — a man who stands very tall for justice and the rule of law.

To make it clear that Mueller agreed with Obama’s selection of Comey, Mueller commented:

And, finally, I want to commend the President for the choice of Jim Comey as the next Director of the FBI.

I have had the opportunity to work with Jim for a number of years in the Department of Justice, and I have found him to be a man of honesty, dedication and integrity. His experience, his judgment, and his strong sense of duty will benefit not only the Bureau, but the country as a whole.

Comey also praised Mueller before promising Obama and Mueller that he would “honor and protect” Mueller’s legacy at the FBI:

I must be out of my mind to be following Bob Mueller. (Laughter.) I don’t know whether I can fill those shoes. But I know that however I do, I will be standing truly on the shoulders of a giant, someone who has made a remarkable difference in the life of this country. I can promise you, Mr. President and Mr. Director, that I will do my very best to honor and protect that legacy.

The FBI appears to be one more place where Obama’s promise of “Hope and Change” has been replaced with “More of the Same.”


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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