The press is all atwitter about the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The only surprise for me was that Trump didn’t fire him the day he took office.
Comey sealed his fate when he allowed Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to turn the FBI into a partisan political organization.
The FBI has for decades been:
1) The nation’s premier law enforcement organization.
2) The world’s most respected law enforcement agency.
3) A revered and trusted organization.
4) And, most important, a non-political body.
Of course, the FBI was not always held in such high esteem, primarily because of its first Director, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover had two huge problems. He was a closet homosexual, and he spied on and collected blackmail material on hundreds of US officials and politicians.
His closest associate in the FBI was Clyde Tolson. The two bachelors traveled to and from the office together, ate out together most nights, and even vacationed together. When Hoover died he left his house and his half-million dollar estate to his “life partner.” Due to the times, Hoover and Tolson never admitted to being homosexual lovers, but to those who knew them well it was no secret. Ironically, Hoover ferociously persecuted open homosexuals, a common behavior for closet homosexuals.
Even worse was Hoover’s abuse of his power by using FBI resources to blackmail politicians and judges and bend them to his will. According to Wikipedia, “He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents.”
Former Secretary of State Dean Rusk said of Hoover, "He passed along gossip to the sitting president, and that raised questions in the president's mind. What did Hoover know about him? That put Hoover in the position of a veiled blackmailer."
Many presidents feared him. President Richard Nixon was recorded as stating in 1971 that one of the reasons he did not fire Hoover was that he was afraid of reprisals against him by Hoover. According to President Harry S. Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. Truman publicly 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."
According to President John F. Kennedy’s biographer, JFK was "scared to death" of Hoover because he didn't know the full extent of the dirt that Hoover may have had on him. President Lyndon Johnson once explained why he couldn't fire Hoover: “I’d rather have him inside the tent peeing out than outside peeing in.” In fact, even though Hoover was widely criticized for refusing to thoroughly investigate JFK’s assassination, Johnson allowed him to remain the FBI Director after the mandatory retirement age of 70. He signed an Executive Order allowing Hoover to serve “indefinitely.” (One wonders what dirt Hoover had on Johnson.) Hoover ultimately ran the FBI for 48 years, being appointed or reappointed by six presidents.
Interestingly, his attempts to blackmail the CIA backfired on him. The CIA had more dirt on Hoover than he had on them, so he left them alone.
Early in his career, he fought hard against the right of women to vote. He saw Communists under every rock, rivaling McCarthy in his paranoia. He labeled Dr. Martin Luther King a Communist and had him wiretapped and spied on for years. He persecuted political opponents and blackmailed politicians to force them to vote as he wished. Many in American politics said that he had more power than the president.
Amazingly, for many years Hoover claimed there was no Mafia in the US, although he had many ties to organized crime. In fact, he and his boyfriend, Tolson, frequented Mafia resorts, hotels, and restaurants and openly socialized with mobsters. Ironically, since Hoover blackmailed so many public figures, there is strong evidence that the Mafia blackmailed Hoover to leave them alone by threatening to expose his homosexuality. Some speculate that the reason he refused to properly investigate JFK’s assassination was that many believed it had been a Mafia hit. In any case, after years of pretending that the Mafia didn’t exist, Hoover was finally forced to take action against them when public outcry grew and Congress was forced to pressure him.
Hoover claimed to be the first Director of the FBI. He was actually the sixth
Director. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was originally called the Bureau of Investigations, which was established in 1908. Hoover was the sixth Director of this agency, but he was a narcissist who desperately wanted a legacy. In 1935 he convinced FDR to change the name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was thus able to claim that he was its first Director. He even had the FBI building named after him.
After a disastrous beginning which included enforcing political agendas using the Bureau’s massive police powers, the FBI had to make a huge effort to change its image. The first step was for Congress to impose a ten-year term on the Director to avoid another despot like Hoover amassing huge political power. The second was to bring in honest men to change the culture of the FBI.
Following Hoover’s death, his boyfriend Colson took over leadership temporarily, but not officially. This was followed by two Acting Directors until Nixon was able to get a permanent Director approved by the Senate. (Until 1972 the Director was simply appointed by the president. Since then, the Senate has had to approve them.)
The new Director, Clarence Kelly, a retired career FBI agent who set about cleaning house at the FBI immediately. One of his first actions was to eliminate the rampant embezzlement of federal funds that had occurred under Hoover. He also reopened relationships with other federal intelligence agencies (including the CIA) – relationships that had all but completely severed in Hoover’s last years as Director. He also made rebuilding the public image of the FBI a major priority.
Kelly’s successor was William Webster. Webster was not chosen for his law enforcement background – he had none – but rather as a sign that the nation was serious about FBI reform. He was a federal appeals court judge when he was chosen to lead the FBI. His accomplishments were few, but he lent an aura of respectability to the FBI that was badly needed.
William Sessions, the next Director, was appointed by Ronald Reagan. He worked hard to improve the image of the FBI, particularly in Congress. Although he was a Republican nominated by Reagan, George H.W. Bush was disappointed with him because he was not partisan enough. But of course the FBI Director needs to be non-partisan, and he solidified that concept. He also led the improvement of the scientific capabilities of the Bureau, particularly in the areas of DNA and automated fingerprint identification. Sessions was the first FBI Director in history to be fired. Bill Clinton terminated him shortly after taking office because he was a Republican.
We could go on describing the actions of the FBI Directors since Sessions, but suffice it to say that the FBI and its Directors since Hoover have continued to improve the image of the Bureau – until the appointment of James Comey.
It is simplistic, but I will say it. The history of the FBI until today can be divided into three eras. The first is the era of corruption and abuse of power under the reign of terror of J. Edgar Hoover. The second is the era of reconstruction, during which the FBI clawed its way back to respect by earning it. The third will become known as the era of Obama, Lynch, and Comey – an era in which the most corrupt president in history took a good man and used him to turn the FBI into an inept, partisan organization.
Let me say first that Comey seems to be a decent man and a patriot. He has served his nation well as a District Attorney and a Deputy US Attorney General. For eight years after leaving public office he worked for a number corporations and banks. His employees and co-workers mostly liked and respected him. Then, in 2013, he had the misfortune to be appointed FBI Director by Barrack Hussein Obama.
I want to stop here and say that I sincerely hope that President Trump does not make the same mistake that Obama and other presidents before him have made. The Director of the FBI should not be a lawyer or a politician. Think how little respect such people have among the general population. And then think how the professional agents of the FBI look at having an outsider who has never carried a gun or badge suddenly thrust into the top job at their agency.
The Director of the FBI should be someone who understands what it means for agents to put their lives at risk following his or her orders. He or she should be a career law enforcement officer, preferably a veteran of the FBI itself. Why put a civilian in a position where he must first learn what law enforcement is all about, and then learn the culture of the FBI? Why not start with someone who has experience and can hit the ground running?
Second, the Director should be non-partisan. I’m not saying he should not be a Republican or a Democrat – where would you find such a person? If you did, they would be Socialist or Libertarian – partisans in their own right. If you found someone with no political opinions at all, they would likely have an IQ below 100.
A non-partisan is someone who can put their political preferences aside in order to do their job according to the law – without favoring any political party. Judges do it all the time (at least, some of them do). It is possible for any person of good will to approach this job with a firm commitment to do their work in a non-partisan manner
I think some of the people who have been proposed – including Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani – could do that. But I don’t believe the public believes they could. And that’s another important factor. The Bible says, “Do not let your good be evil spoken of.” In other words, even doing the right thing is not enough; you need to do it in a way that intelligent people won’t disbelieve you. A good example would be a man and a woman sharing an apartment, but saying they’re not sleeping together. Few would believe them.
So President Trump needs to carefully choose a person who is qualified; who will be respected by the men and women he or she leads; and who will be trusted by the public to follow the law without allowing their political leanings to dictate their actions. I know that’s a tall order, but that’s why we hired President Trump – to do the tough things.
This week has been such a firestorm of non-stop reporting on the Comey firing that I have elected to stay out of it until the dust settled. The millions of people who have read my articles have undoubtedly noticed that I often do that. Instead of being the first to pontificate on an important matter, rushing to get something posted before anyone else – I choose to wait until the facts are in. In this way, I avoid the embarrassment many pundits experience when they rush to judgment.
And even when commenting on what I believe to be the real underlying reason for Comey’s termination, I am not going to rehash all his many missteps, including his grandstanding in front of the microphones. Most FBI Directors have avoided that, and it would have served Comey well to have followed their lead. But there is nothing illegal or immoral about breaking with protocol.
I believe Comey sealed his fate when he allowed Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to turn him into a political hack. By all reports, Lynch was a weak, ineffectual A/G, loathe to make decisions. She was more concerned about her reputation than with doing her job.
Everyone who knows the facts of the case knows that Hillary Clinton and her staff committed numerous felonies. But there was no way a Democrat president and a Democrat A/G were going to indict the Democrat party’s anointed standard-bearer. So Lynch decided to punt. She said that Comey would make the decision.
Here’s how it happened. Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton “accidentally” ran into each other and chatted at the Phoenix airport. If they had both been inside the airport terminal there was a small chance (perhaps 1 in 100,000) that they would have bumped into each other. After all, Phoenix is not one of the nation’s major airports, and the idea that both of them would happen to be wandering about looking for a Starbucks is ludicrous.
But they weren’t in the terminal. They were both in private jet aircraft. Private jets are always kept far apart from one another to avoid the risk of collisions when they taxi. They were both in Phoenix for bogus reasons. (Lynch supposedly to give an award to local cops; Clinton to participate in a roundtable political discussion (to which he mostly “just listened” according to an observer.) Clinton’s plane was due to leave before Lynch’s, but for unexplained reasons did not. Suspicious? Coincidental? More like miraculous (a one in 100 Million chance that all these moving pieces would come together at that exact moment).
Add to this their two security details. Lynch had a detail of FBI agents; Bill had his Secret Service detail. There is no way either would have allowed a “chance meeting” to take place on an airport tarmac without prior coordination and details being vetted to make sure their principals were safe. Without a doubt, Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch pre-planned this meeting.
But for what purpose? Bill wanted to make sure that the investigation against Hillary was dropped. Lynch wanted an excuse to recuse herself and pass the decision on to someone else. Both got what they wanted.
Both claimed they just talked about their grandchildren for 30 minutes. I actually believe that could be true. Bill didn’t need to ask Lynch to back off the investigation. Just the fact that they met (and that news of the meeting “leaked” out) was enough.
Shortly after the meeting, Lynch announced that because of the “appearance” of impropriety she would recuse herself from any involvement in the case. Fair enough. But to whom should she have handed off the responsibility for deciding in whether to prosecute Hillary? To her Assistant A/G – because prosecutors
make decisions about whether to prosecute
Instead, she announced that she had handed the decision about whether to prosecute to the Director of the FBI, Jim Comey and said that she would follow his recommendation. Comey should have said, “I used to be a prosecutor, but I am not one now. I am an investigator. Investigators investigate, they hand the evidence to prosecutors, and the prosecutors decide whether to prosecute.”
Instead, he held a grandstanding press conference and listed all the crimes Hillary had committed. I was watching when he did it. I (like most of America) was amazed, because he laid out a clear, prosecutable case, against Hillary Clinton, and it seemed obvious that he was about to announce criminal charges against her. Then, instead of announcing an indictment, he proceeded to say that no prosecutor in the country would prosecute the case.
His main excuse for not taking her to court was that he didn’t believe the necessary “intent” to commit espionage could be proven. Intent is a necessary element in most criminal acts. But it is absolutely not a required element for espionage. Taking extremely good care of secret information is such a serious responsibility that gross negligence in the handling of secret information – whether intentional or not – is sufficient to put the negligent person behind bars for many years. And during that press conference, Comey clearly stated, regarding Clinton and her staff, that “there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
In his wrap-up he made another amazing statement: “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.” In other words, if the person under investigation were not running for the presidency, we would have taken action.
Initially, the FBI was basically an organization of thugs. After Hoover died, it cleaned up its act and became heroes to most Americans. Under Comey, it has gained a reputation of political hacks and hapless chumps. Under Comey’s leadership, the FBI seems to have lost its way. It was unable to hack into the San Bernadino killer’s cell phone and had to ask Apple (which refused to help). It grossly mishandled the case of the Boston Marathon bombers; the Texas shooting at the Muhammad cartoon exhibition; and the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub where Omar Mateen killed 49 people. The common thread in these three events is that the FBI had the perpetrators under investigation, yet failed to prevent the tragedies. David Gomez, a former senior FBI counterterrorism official in Seattle, wrote an incisive article titled “How Did the FBI Miss Omar Mateen?” (See article below.)
Does this mean that the whole FBI has lost its way? No. But it is suffering from a lack of capable leadership, and from a lack of confidence in its leaders. And when there is a failure of leadership, the rank and file become unmotivated, sometimes sloppy, and sometimes lazy. It’s had to see how Comey alone could be responsible for what has happened to the FBI since he became Director. It’s probable that the kind of mid-level managers he chose have contributed to the problems.
The FBI is too important to our nation’s security to allow this to continue. President Trump needs to nominate a strong patriot with credible law enforcement experience without delay. It needs to be someone who is not afraid to clean house and fire unqualified people. And the Senate Democrats need to think about the nation for a change, and quickly approve his nominee.
NY Post: FBI Chief Comey Asserting Power Like No One in History
Comey’s Statement When He Decided Not to Charge Hillary
Loretta Lynch Sued for Details Over Secret Tarmac Meeting with Bill Clinton
“How Did the FBI Miss Omar Mateen?”
Turmoil in the FBI in Last 15 Months
Hoover's Mafia Blackmailers