reflections on comey

Senate hearing gives a glimpse of political warfare within the FBI
Patrick Martin, WSWS, May 5 2017

A four-hour Senate committee hearing Tuesday gave a glimpse of the political warfare raging within the Pindo military-intelligence apparatus, despite its nominally “non-political” pretensions. Rival factions within the FBI fought to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election through illegal leaks to the media and carefully orchestrated political provocations. The occasion was the annual review of the FBI by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is charged with exercising oversight of the powerful police agency. FBI Director James Comey was the sole witness, and he gave new details about the internal strife within the FBI and the DoJ, to which it belongs. Comey was under fire throughout the hearing from senators of both capitalist parties. Rethugs attacked him for allegedly going easy on Hillary Clinton in the course of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was sec state, and for government leaks to the media about alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Demagogs attacked Comey for the announcement on Oct 28, 2016, only 11 days before the election, that the email investigation was being revived, while keeping silent about the allegations of Trump-Russia connections until well after the vote, thereby seemingly putting the weight of the FBI on the scales in support of Trump. Clinton and many congressional Demagogs have claimed that the FBI’s unprecedented intervention tipped the balance in a close election and gave Trump a critical last-minute boost.

The FBI action broke a long-standing DoJ rule that no action against any candidate for public office should be announced less than 90 days before an election. In response to the questioning from both sides, Comey gave a picture of the FBI buffeted by political tensions throughout the presidential election year. He flatly denied suggestions by Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley that top FBI officials had been anonymous sources to the media about investigations into either Clinton or Trump. Comey refused to discuss except in a secret session, with the press and public excluded, recent reports of an email hacked from Demagog Party operatives which said that they had assurances that Attorney General Loretta Lynch would protect Clinton by making sure the FBI investigation “didn’t go too far.” But he acknowledged that there was mounting dissatisfaction within the FBI in the spring of 2016 over the investigation of the Clinton private server affair, as it became clear that there was no will on high for a criminal prosecution of Clinton or her top aides. Comey said, in response to questioning by Rethug Thom Tills:

I became increasingly concerned that the leadership of the DoJ could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the Pindo creeple’s confidence in the justice system. Her meeting with Pres Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me. And I then said, ‘You know what, the department cannot by itself credibly end this.’

He was referring to Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s meeting with Clinton on an airport tarmac in Arizona in late Jun 2016. Comey revealed that he telephoned Lynch the next morning to tell her he would announce the conclusions of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton at a press conference without giving Lynch advance notice of what those conclusions were, although she was his nominal boss. Press reports have suggested that there was widespread opposition to Clinton among rank-and-file agents, who are generally aligned with the Rethug Party, although many mid-level officials, appointed or promoted under Obama, backed the Demagogs. Although Comey avoided discussing the issue, agents in the New York office of the FBI were particularly incensed by the decision not to bring charges, and were leaking information to the press and to Republican politicians like Rudy Giuliani. It was agents from the New York office involved in investigating Anthony Weiner who confronted Comey in his office on Oct 27 2016 with claims that important new evidence on the Clinton email server had been found on Weiner’s laptop. What ensued was an openly political debate, with the New York agents pressing for a search warrant and a message to be sent to Congress that the Clinton investigation was being reopened. Comey acknowledged that at least one member of his staff said:

Should you consider that what you’re about to do may help elect Donald Trump president?

Comey sanctimoniously claimed that he was above such political considerations at the meeting, although he admits being aware that the announcement of a reopened investigation would have a huge impact. The next day, he sent “private letters” to the top Rethugs and Demagogs on eight congressional committees, knowing that the contents would be released to the media almost immediately. As Thursday’s hearing went on, a series of Demagog senators sought unsuccessfully to get Comey to release more information about the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives, who allegedly hacked the email system of the DNC + Podesta. They were joined by several Rethugs in portraying Russian hacking as a dire threat to the Pindo political system and to Pindo corporations. Amy Klobuchar declared:

Russia is actively working to undermine our democracy and hurt Pindo businesses at the same time.

She was echoed a few minutes later by Lindsey Graham, who coaxed from Comey the declaration:

As far as the Pindosi political system is concerned, Russia is the greatest threat of any nation on earth, given their intention and their capability.

The Demagogs sought to connect the allegations of Russian hacking with demands for the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI investigation and any criminal cases that are brought as a result. Al Franken asked Comey if Trump’s tax returns would be relevant in such an investigation, but Comey declined to answer. Richard Blumenthal asked directly if Trump was a target of the investigation, and got the same non-response. While the Demagogs and Rethugs were at each other’s throats through much of the hearing, relitigating the role of the FBI during the 2016 elections, they were strikingly united on one issue: securing as much authority as possible for the FBI to spy on Pindosi citizens. Senator after senator declared their support for reauthorizing Section 702 of FISA, which gives the intelligence agencies the power to intercept communications between Pindosis and foreigners, and to incorporate the Pindosis into the vast databases developed on the pretext of combating “terrorism” but providing an insight into the political views of millions of Pindosis. They also endorsed the FBI director’s campaign to gain access to encrypted hardware and software systems, first made public after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, when Comey waged a public campaign to force Apple to break the encryption of its iPhone. Comey responded at one point:

I think there’s good news on that front. We’ve had very good, open and productive conversations with the private sector over the last 18 months about this issue, because everybody realized we care about the same things.

He claimed that the Pindo manufacturers were going to develop privacy and security features that would make it possible for them to obey court orders to produce communications. He added ominously:

I could imagine a world that ends up with legislation saying, if you’re going to make devices in Pindostan, you figure out how to comply with court orders, or maybe we don’t go there, but we are having productive conversations right now, I think.

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