Perlstein is right: I’ve been distracted by the end of the Supreme Court term and failed to note that James Comey is a terrible choice to head the the FBI. The bill of particulars against him:
(a) in charge, and proudly so, of a “terrorism” case that began with a detention without charges, continued with made-up and spurious charges, and ended with a conviction won against an American whose treatment during confinement (on the American mainland) turned his brain to jello;
(b) general counsel for a defense contractor while it was busy hushing up a whistleblower who exposed $24 billion contract that they were building vessels for the Coast Guard, on a $24 billion contract, that buckled and leaked on the high seas;
(c) as of three months ago on the board of a bank, in charge of cleaning up their reputation after it paid a $1.92 billion fine for laundering drug money from Mexico; and
(d) the man who, as former FBI agent Colleen Rowley pointed out this morning in The New York Times, “sign[ed] 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.
I assume that demonstrating his unacceptability does not require more elaborate argument.
I’m not so naive as to think that the Obama administration was going to prosecute Dick Cheney or something. But the Obama administration’s complete failure to pursue even the strongest torture cases is a disgrace. And, in general, the failure to make people who were part of the Bush administration’s torture state pariahs is a serious problem going forward.
Moreover, the nomination of Comey is yet another example of the “Republican Daddies” syndrome, in which certain executive branch jobs seem to be reserved for Republicans no matter which administration is in charge (a courtesy which is not reciprocated, needless to say.) Hagel, I will grant, is only a marginal example given that on defense issues he’s a Republican in the same sense as John Paul Stevens, but Comey is a classic example. No Republican president would consider for a second making the Democratic equivalent of Comey the head of the FBI — and score one for the Republican ethos on that one.