Tag Archives: James Comey

Inspector general’s report on FBI and Clinton’s emails shows secrecy threatens democracy, by James Board

The Inspector General’s latest report has been previewed and leaked so endlessly, and its style is so bland, that it’s an anticlimax, especially for those who expecting something earth shaking. However, it its own way, it raises issues of serious concern, which James Bovard does a good job of highlighting. From Bovard at usatoday.com:

The 500-page inspector general’s report released Thursday reveals how unjustified secrecy and poor decisions helped ravage the credibility of both Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the FBI.

Yesterday’s Inspector General report on the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton contained plenty of bombshells, including a promise by lead FBI investigator Peter Strzok that “We’ll stop” Donald Trump from becoming president. The report reveals how unjustified secrecy and squirrelly decisions helped ravage the credibility of both Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the FBI. But few commentators are recognizing the vast peril to democracy posed by the sweeping prerogatives of federal agencies.

The FBI’s investigation of Clinton was spurred by her decision to set up a private server to handle her email during her four years as secretary of state. The server in her Chappaqua, N.Y. mansion was insecure and exposed emails with classified information to detection by foreign sources and others.

Clinton effectively exempted herself from the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The State Department ignored 17 FOIA requests for her emails prior to 2014 and insisted it required 75 years to disclose emails of Clinton’s top aides. A federal judge and the State Department inspector general slammed the FOIA stonewalling.

Clinton’s private email server was not publicly disclosed until she received a congressional subpoena in 2015. A few months later, the FBI Counterintelligence Division opened a criminal investigation of the “potential unauthorized storage of classified information on an unauthorized system.”

The IG report gives the impression that the FBI treated Hillary Clinton and her coterie like royalty — or at least like personages worthy of endless deference. When Bleachbit software or hammers were used to destroy email evidence under congressional subpoena, the FBI treated it as a harmless error. The IG report “questioned whether the use of a subpoena or search warrant might have encouraged Clinton, her lawyers … or others to search harder for the missing devices [containing email], or ensured that they were being honest that they could not find them.” Instead, FBI agents worked on “rapport building” with Clinton aides.

To continue reading: Inspector general’s report on FBI and Clinton’s emails shows secrecy threatens democracy

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Washed, Bleached and Rinsed, by James Kunstler

James Kunstler saves SLL the trouble of having to write about the Inspector General’s report. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The FBI brass must have needed hazmat suits to scrub DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on agency misconduct around the 2016 elections. The result of their mighty exertions is something like 500 pages of pasteurized tofu. I will be surprised if a new scandal does not erupt over exactly how the scrubbing went down, and I wouldn’t count out the possibility of the original unscrubbed report emerging from deep inside the FBI itself. You have to wonder how embarrassed Mr. Horowitz is, and whether he, or others seeking to defend his integrity, might do anything about it.

In any case, the report managed to whitewash or evade altogether the most troubling angles of the FBI’s role around this garbage barge of institutional roguery. Among unanswered questions: just what were Bill Clinton and then Attorney General Loretta Lynch up to in their mysterious airport tête-à-tête July 2016, a few days before then FBI Director James Comey let Mr. Clinton’s wife, a presidential candidate, off the hook on the email server issue? How did Deputy FBI Director Andy McCabe consort with Clinton campaign bag-man and then Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in a way that dropped nearly $700,000 into Mrs. McCabe’s own campaign war chest for a state legislative race? How did the wife of FBI higher-up Bruce Ohr get on the payroll of the Fusion GPS company that brokered the nefarious Christopher Steele “dossier?” How did the FBI conceal the Clinton campaign’s payments for the Steele dossier from judges who ruled on FISA warrants against Trump campaign associates?

Instead, the OIG report focused on the now-shopworn “love-bird” emails between FBI counter-espionage chief Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page, finding only a vague “biased state of mind,” but nothing tied to any particular actions taken by them, despite overt declarations of intent by Strzok to “stop” Trump, presumably by using the powers of the FBI. Former FBI Director Comey got off with the equivalent of a wrist-slap on vague allegations of “insubordination” — to whom? What did insubordination have to do with Comey granting immunity to many Clinton campaign factotums before Mrs. Clinton was interviewed by the agency (not under oath, by the way, for reasons never advanced nor discussed in mainstream media).

If this is the end of all these matters then the FBI will remain permanently tarnished and the public interest will have been very poorly served by a tractable Inspector General who is sure to be a national joke in the months ahead — the pooch screwed by his own pack. The USA really can’t take a whole lot more institutional failure without irreparable political damage. Americans will become only more distrustful of our reckless leviathan state, and more inclined to disrespect it.

To continue reading: Washed, Bleached and Rinsed

Comey can no longer hide destruction caused at FBI, by Jonathan Turley

James Comey did many things that would justify his firing by President Trump. The Department of Justice Inspector General’s report, released yesterday, should at least take the possibility of that firing bringing an obstruction of justice charge off the table. From Jonathan Turley at thehill.com:

Comey can no longer hide destruction caused at FBI
© Getty Images

James Comey once described his position in the Clinton investigation as being the victim of a “500-year flood.” The point of the analogy was that he was unwittingly carried away by events rather than directly causing much of the damage to the FBI. His “500-year flood” just collided with the 500-page report of the Justice Department inspector general (IG) Michael Horowitz. The IG sinks Comey’s narrative with a finding that he “deviated” from Justice Department rules and acted in open insubordination.

Rather than portraying Comey as carried away by his biblical flood, the report finds that he was the destructive force behind the controversy. The import of the report can be summed up in Comeyesque terms as the distinction between flotsam and jetsam. Comey portrayed the broken rules as mere flotsam, or debris that floats away after a shipwreck. The IG report suggests that this was really a case of jetsam, or rules intentionally tossed over the side by Comey to lighten his load. Comey’s jetsam included rules protecting the integrity and professionalism of his agency, as represented by his public comments on the Clinton investigation.

The IG report concludes, “While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

The report will leave many unsatisfied and undeterred. Comey went from a persona non grata to a patron saint for many Clinton supporters. Comey, who has made millions of dollars with a tell-all book portraying himself as the paragon of “ethical leadership,” continues to maintain that he would take precisely the same actions again.

Ironically, Comey, fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok and others, by their actions, just made it more difficult for special counsel Robert Mueller to prosecute Trump for obstruction. There is now a comprehensive conclusion by career investigators that Comey violated core agency rules and undermined the integrity of the FBI. In other words, there was ample reason to fire James Comey.

To continue reading: Comey can no longer hide destruction caused at FBI

Politicizing The FBI: How James Comey Succeeded Where Richard Nixon Failed, by John D. O’Connor

John D. O’Connor makes J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI out to be a congress of saints, which is horseshit, but he makes important points about James Comey’s tenure as head of the FBI. From O’Connor at dailycaller.com:

A little over 40 years ago, Richard Nixon went from a landslide re-election winner to a president forced to resign in disgrace. Nixon’s downfall was the direct result of his unsuccessful attempts to politicize through patronage of an independent, straight-arrow FBI. The commonsense, ethical lesson from this for all government officials would be to avoid attempts to use our nation’s independent fact-finder as a partisan force.

There is as well, of course, a more perverse lesson to be learned from Nixon’s downfall at the hands of an independent FBI, to wit: there is much power to gain by politicizing the Bureau, but only if its upper-leadership team is all on partisan board. Emerging evidence increasingly suggests, sadly, that this was former FBI Director James Comey’s leadership strategy in our country’s most sensitive investigations.

In the years running up to the 1972 election, Deputy Associate FBI Director Mark Felt, serving under feisty bulldog J. Edgar Hoover, staunchly refused the entreaties of Nixon lieutenants to act politically, e.g., to whitewash an ITT/Republican bribery scheme and to lock up innocent war protestors. Felt, the natural successor to Hoover, fell out of White House favor as a result.

Following the death of Hoover in May 1972, Nixon appointed in place of Felt the decent but politically malleable L. Patrick Gray. When six weeks later five burglars were arrested in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, Nixon’s Justice Department tried to limit, through Gray, the scope of the FBI’s investigation. Unfortunately for Nixon, regular Bureau agents, led quietly but spectacularly by Felt, fought these attempts, with a far worse result for Nixon than if the Bureau had been left alone to do its job.

Spy Name Games, by Andrew C. McCarthy

James Bond aside, and he’s fictional, most spies are of questionable character, and most people who issue them their marching orders are too. From Andrew C. McCarthy at nationalreview.com:

President Barack Obama attends the swearing-in ceremony of FBI Director James Comey at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., October 28, 2013. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

The Obama administration blatantly politicized the government’s intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus.

‘Isn’t it a fact that you’re a scumbag?”

Our contretemps over the nomenclature of government informants has me unable to shake this arresting moment from my memory. In Manhattan, about 30 years ago, I was among the spectators basking in the majesty of Foley Square’s federal courthouse when we were suddenly jarred by this, shall we say, rhetorical question. The sniper was a mob lawyer in a big RICO case; the target was the prosecution’s main witness, the informant.

Until this week, I’d always thought the most noteworthy thing about this obnoxious bit of theater was the reaction of the judge, a very fine, very wry trial lawyer in his own right.

The prosecutors, of course, screamed, “Objection!”

The judge calmly shrugged his shoulders and ruled: “He can answer if he knows.”

Did he know? I don’t remember. I was laughing too hard to hear any response.

The court’s deadpan was not just hilarious. In its way, it was trenchant.

The judge was not insouciant. He was a realist. The witness had done what covert informants do: He pretended to be someone he wasn’t, he wheedled his way into the trust — in some instances, into the affections — of people suspected of wrongdoing. And then he betrayed them. But that’s the job: to pry away secrets — get the bad actors to admit what they did, how they did it, and with whom they did it, until the agents and prosecutors decide there is enough evidence to convict the lot of them.

The judge understood that. For all the melodrama, whether the informant was a hero or a villain hinged on how one felt not about him but about the worthiness of the investigation.

To continue reading: Spy Name Games

Gate of Gates? by James Howard Kunstler

There are more and more indications that former CIA Director and now CNN commentator John Brennan was the mastermind behind the effort to prevent Trump from being elected, or having failed that, to depose him. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

When historians of the future finish their meal of rat à la moutarde at the campfire, and pass around the battered plastic jug of wild raisin wine, they will kick back and hear the griot sing of John Brennan, the fabled chief of an ancient order called the CIA, and how he started the monkey business aimed at bringing down the wicked Golden Golem of Greatness, chief of chiefs in the land once known as America. Alas, the hero’s journey of Brennan, ends in a jail cell at the storied Allenwood Federal Penitentiary, where he slowly pined away between games of ping-pong and knock-hockey, dreaming of a cable network retirement package that never was….

One gets the feeling more and more that Mr. Brennan is at the center of this ever-mushrooming matrix of scandals around the 2016 election. “Bigger Than Watergate?” the headline in today’s New York Times asks? The mendacity of this once-proud newspaper is really something to behold. Take the following paragraph, for instance:

 “Depending on what is eventually proven, the core scandal could rival Watergate, in which a “third-rate burglary” of Democratic National Committee headquarters ultimately revealed a wide-ranging campaign of political sabotage and spying to influence the 1972 presidential election and undercut perceived rivals. In the current case, a hostile foreign power sought to sway the 2016 election and there is evidence that at least some people in Mr. Trump’s circle were willing to collaborate with it to do so.”

You have to really wonder how the Times editors overlooked the other relevant details in the current case pertaining to goings-on initiated by Mr. Brennan and involving obviously criminal misbehavior among the US Intelligence services, and especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in their effort to un-do the election that put the Trump creature in the White House instead of the enchantress known as Hillary. I did like the trope “a hostile foreign power.” Apparently they were too embarrassed to just say “Russia,” since by now it has become the most threadbare hobgoblin in all of US political history.

To continue reading: Gate of Gates?

 

The Horsefly Cometh, by James Howard Kunstler

Everybody seems to have forgotten the Inspector General will be releasing a report on the behind the scenes machinations behind the Trump investigation. However, given what we already know, the report is liable to have some bombshells. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

You can see where this Mueller thing is going: to the moment when the Golden Golem of Greatness finally swats down the political horsefly that has orbited his glittering brainpan for a whole year, and says, “There! It’s done.”

It suggests that Civil War Two will end up looking a whole lot more like the French Revolution than Civil War One. The latter unfurled as a solemn tragedy; the former as a Coen Brothers style opéra bouffe bloodbath. Having executed the presidential swat to said orbiting horsefly, Trump will try to turn his attention to the affairs of the nation, only to find that it is insolvent and teetering on the most destructive workout of bad debt the world has ever seen. And then his enemies will really go to work. In the process, they’ll probably wreck the institutional infrastructure needed to run a republic in constitutional democracy mode.

They got a good start in politicizing the upper ranks of the FBI, a fatal miscalculation based on the certainty of a Hillary win, which would have enabled the various schemers in the J. Edgar Hoover building to just fade back into the procedural woodwork of the agency and get on with life. Instead, their shenanigans were exposed and so far one key player, Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, was hung out to dry by a committee of his fellow agency execs for lying about his official conduct. Long about now, you kind of wonder: is that where it ends for him? Seems like everybody else (and his uncle) is getting indicted for lying to the FBI. How about Mr. McCabe, since that is exactly why his colleagues at the FBI fired him?

To continue reading: The Horsefly Cometh