22 Apr 2006

The Comey Connection

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Pofarmer asks over on Tom Maguire’s JOM:

The Fitzgerald investigation has been handled as an ivestigation of the administration and not like a “leak” investigation from the get go. Ergo, we know who the leaker is, but there’s no charges.

Fitz is from Chicago, which is highly Democratic.

So, what I want to know.

Who reccommended Fitz at the beginning of the chain?

Is Fitz just a useful idiot, or is something a little more/less sinister involved.

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SOME BACKGROUND

On October 3, 2003, George W. Bush nominated James Comey, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to the post of Deputy Attorney General. Comey was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on December 9, 2003.

New York Magazine profile of Comey.

George W. Bush chose one of the worst grandstanding prosecutors in the country, a Reinhold Niebuhr-quoting, statist liberal, who had recently sent Martha Stewart to prison “for lying” about a crime which was never proven to have occurred, to the Number 2 position in his Justice Department.

This unsound and unprincipled appointment would have the gravest consequences. The failure of the Bush Administration to safeguard the rights of Martha Stewart, and other victims of Comey’s over-reaching, opportunistic, and bullying prosecutions, would ultimately backfire on the administration itself.

It is known that by March 2004 Comey was quarreling with the White House over surveillance. Here is one leftwing account, describing the circumstances of one policy battle, and the application by Bush of an uncomplimentary nickname to Comey:

In March 2004, John Ashcroft was in the hospital with a serious pancreatic condition. At Justice, Comey, Ashcroft’s No. 2, was acting as attorney general…. (Jack) Goldsmith (head of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel) raised with Comey serious questions about the secret eavesdropping program, according to two sources familiar with the episode. He was joined by a former OLC lawyer, Patrick Philbin, who had become national-security aide to the deputy attorney general. Comey backed them up. The White House was told: no reauthorization.

The angry reaction bubbled up all the way to the Oval Office. President Bush, with his penchant for put-down nicknames, had begun referring to Comey as “Cuomey” or “Cuomo,” apparently after former New York governor Mario Cuomo, who was notorious for his Hamlet-like indecision over whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1980s. A high-level delegation—White House Counsel Gonzales and chief of staff Andy Card—visited Ashcroft in the hospital to appeal Comey’s refusal. In pain and on medication, Ashcroft stood by his No. 2.

But, even before he was confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Comey had taken advantage of John Ashcroft’s remarkably scrupulous personal recusal to appoint as Special Council, Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Fitzgerald would, of course, prove to be a prosecutor strongly reminiscent of Comey himself, preening for an admiring press, while lodging perjury charges against a trophy-class target based on contradictory witness accounts, having found no evidence to support the theory that any crime was ever committed in the first place.

Relations between Comey and the White House worsened after June 2004, when Comey (with Justice department associates Goldsmith and Philbin) held a not-for-attribution background press briefing to announce that the Justice Department was disavowing the August 2002 so-called “Torture memo” written by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee. Wrangling over new definitions of permissible forms of interrogation continued through December.

A leftwing view of conflicts between Justice Department liberals and the White House appeared in Newsweek.

In April 2005, James Comey announced that he would be resigning later that year. He was quickly hired as General Counsel and a Senior Vice President by Lockheed Martin.

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