Why I’m dis­ap­pointed in FBI Di­rec­tor Comey

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Sun­day Free­man colum­nist Alan Char­tock is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the State Univer­sity of New York, pub­lisher of the Leg­isla­tive Gazette and CEO of the WAMC North­east Pub­lic Radio Net­work. Read­ers can email him at alan@wamc.org. Alan Char­tock Capi­tol Con

Sun­day Free­man colum­nist Alan Char­tock dis­cusses the FBI and this year's pres­i­den­tial race.

Dear FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey,

Up un­til now, I have had some re­spect for you and for the dif­fi­cult job you do. Your ear­lier pro­nounce­ment that can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton had not com­mit­ted any pros­e­cu­to­rial ac­tions in her han­dling of emails was prop­erly cau­tious. With suf­fi­cient time be­fore the elec­tion, you made it clear that Clin­ton had been care­less. To me, it was plain that you did not wish to in­ter­fere with a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

That was good stuff. It demon­strated that you un­der­stand your place in our demo­cratic govern­ment sys­tem which ad­heres to a strict hands-off process whereby the mil­i­tary and the po­lice stay away from heavy handed in­flu­enc­ing of elec­tions. We all know that democ­racy is a frag­ile in­sti­tu­tion and has to be treated with care.

When J. Edgar Hoover was in charge, the FBI was of­ten one step away from the kind of po­lice in­ter­fer­ence that had politi­cians quak­ing in their boots. We heard sto­ries about mys­te­ri­ous files which com­pro­mised the per­sonal lives of our politi­cians. It was no won­der that Hoover was un­touch­able un­til he died, de­spite re­ports that Robert F. Kennedy hated the guy. He just couldn’t be fired. That’s why Congress changed the law, in­sti­tut­ing de­fin­i­tive terms for FBI direc­tors.

Now you come in, days be­fore the elec­tion, an­nounc­ing to Congress that you have found new emails that “ap­pear to be per­ti­nent” to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s email server. Never in Amer­i­can his­tory has this kind of po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence oc­curred right be­fore an elec­tion. There are al­ready signs that you have changed vot­ers’ minds. Your su­pe­ri­ors at the Jus­tice Depart­ment told you not to write to Congress but you did so any­way. There are all kinds of guesses as to why you com­mit­ted this per­fidy in­clud­ing money, want­ing to re­in­force your Repub­li­can cre­den­tials or just plain weak­ness — not hav­ing the courage to stand be­hind your ear­lier, wiser de­ci­sion. I have no idea why you did what you did but you may have changed the course of Amer­i­can his­tory, although I hope not. I sus­pect that peo­ple are smart enough to see ex­actly what you are do­ing and they will stand up to you and your na­tional po­lice force.

Those of us who did ad­mire you for your pre­vi­ous han­dling of the email af­fair just don’t un­der­stand why you felt com­pelled to tell Congress now that you had found more cor­re­spon­dence which will take weeks, if not months, to re­view. Was it the fate of the down ticket races that so alarmed your fel­low Repub­li­cans?

Were they so scared of los­ing both houses of Congress that they leaned on you to throw this po­lit­i­cal Molo­tov cock­tail? If you had any spe­cific in­for­ma­tion, why didn’t you tell us what you had? Wasn’t this a time for you to be pru­dent in­stead of im­pru­dent?

Fi­nally, there is the ques­tion as to why you did not sub­sume your­self to your place in the Jus­tice Depart­ment. You were told not to send your let­ter but you did it any­way. If the Democrats gain con­trol of the Se­nate, at very least they should cer­tainly con­vene hear­ings to ex­plore all of these ques­tions. Ob­vi­ously, you have a great deal to an­swer for.

For many years, a lot of Amer­i­cans have been ask­ing for their FBI files from the Hoover era. We thought those days were be­hind us. Ap­par­ently not, so it is with some temer­ity that I ask for any ma­te­rial that you may have on my life.

What both­ers me the most is that the Trump cam­paign has been dab­bling in the kind of dem­a­gogic rhetoric that leads to out and out fas­cism. You have cer­tainly in­jected your­self for all time into our Amer­i­can his­tory books. Surely you must know that — you are a lot smarter than I am. No mat­ter what hap­pens now, you have in­deli­bly sul­lied your own rep­u­ta­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.