Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Questions for the F.B.I. Nominee

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In view of the grievous misdeeds and numerous unconstitutional actions by the FBI listed in the previous post, the nominee should not only be questioned closely but also charged with reforming an increasingly aggressive organization. Coleen Rowley suggests some questions in the NY Times:

WHEN President Obama nominated James B. Comey to lead the F.B.I., he lauded Mr. Comey as someone who understands the challenge of “striking a balance” between security and privacy, and had been “prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong.”

High praise, but was it deserved? We may find out today, when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on his confirmation.

Mr. Comey’s reputation for courage and probity rests largely on a dramatic episode in March 2004 when he and the current F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, tried to squelch the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. But that was just one night in the 20 months that Mr. Comey served as deputy attorney general.

And while it was not the only time he expressed reservations, Mr. Comey apparently did eventually sign off on most of the worst of the Bush administration’s legal abuses and questionable interpretations of federal and international law. He ultimately approved the C.I.A.’s list of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, which experts on international law consider a form of torture. He defended holding an American citizen, Jose Padilla, without charges for more than three years as an “enemy combatant,” and subjecting him to interrogation without counsel to obtain information from him. (Mr. Padilla was ultimately convicted of terrorism charges in civilian court.)

Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey famously thwarted efforts by two Bush officials, Alberto R. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., to pressure a hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign off on Mr. Bush’s warrantless monitoring order after the Justice Department found it illegal. But within days, Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey, having threatened to resign, spoke with Mr. Bush. Whatever assurances the president may have given them are not (and may never be) known — but we know that the surveillance program continued, perhaps with modification, and certainly without further public dissent from Mr. Mueller and Mr. Comey.

I suggest that the senators ask Mr. Comey these questions:

1. Will you maintain the F.B.I. ban on torture and coercing of statements and confessions? Would you instruct F.B.I. agents to investigate all credible reports, including those involving other federal personnel, of violations of Sections 2340 and 2441 of Title 18 of the United States Code, which define torture and war crimes? (In 2002, according to a Justice Department report, F.B.I. agents at Guantánamo Bay created a “war crimes file” to document accusations of prisoner mistreatment by American military personnel, but an F.B.I. official ordered that the file be closed in 2003.)

2. In March 2004, you argued that the N.S.A. surveillance program was illegal. Do you still believe that the domestic communications of American citizens can be legally monitored by the government only with a judicially approved warrant? If so, what assurances about the warrantless surveillance scheme did Mr. Bush offer that persuaded you to stop opposing the program?

3. Do you stand by your statement, made at a Justice Department news conference in June 2004, that it was right to hold Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was arrested on American soil, in a military brig (for two years at that point) without charges?

4. Why, in April 2005, did you approve 13 harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding and up to 180 hours of sleep deprivation, for use on suspects by officers of the C.I.A.?

5. Do you stand by a speech in March 2009 in which you spoke of the need to “incapacitate” terrorists who could not be prosecuted, either because of a lack of sufficient evidence or because the information had been secretly provided by a foreign country? Do you believe that since procedures exist for “preventative detention” of people with dangerous mental illness, there should be a similar way to detain terrorism suspects without trial?

6. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

9 July 2013 at 10:41 am

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