A steady hand in an un­steady time

Why the nom­i­na­tion of Christo­pher Wray as the next FBI direc­tor makes sense

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By John D. Ashcroft

The FBI is the pre­mier in­ves­tiga­tive agency in the world, with more than 35,000 agents and staff work­ing all around the globe. The men and women of the FBI work dili­gently to dis­rupt and pre­vent ter­ror­ist at­tacks on Amer­ica and to pre­serve the lib­er­ties of all Amer­i­cans by up­hold­ing and en­forc­ing the rule of law.

The restora­tion of the rule of law in our cul­ture, and of the pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of the in­tegrity of the FBI, is crit­i­cal for the fair, im­par­tial and suc­cess­ful pur­suit of jus­tice and preser­va­tion of lib­erty.

The pres­i­dent’s nom­i­nee to lead the FBI — Christo­pher Wray — has spent his ca­reer de­voted to the pro­tec­tion of lib­erty and the pros­e­cu­tion of crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions of our laws. The rule of law is at the heart of his char­ac­ter and em­bed­ded in his DNA.

Mr. Wray’s re­sume is a tes­ta­ment to this, and to his ex­cep­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions for this role: as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney, as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral, part­ner at one of the coun­try’s top law firms. He is a re­cip­i­ent of the Ed­mund J. Ran­dolph Award, the Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s high­est honor for pub­lic ser­vice and lead­er­ship.

Chris Wray joined our team at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice early in my ten­ure as at­tor­ney gen­eral, serv­ing in a lead­er­ship po­si­tion in the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice. He was a steady hand in an un­steady time, as the na­tion was still reel­ing from the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on Amer­ica. His strong char­ac­ter and lead­er­ship were taken note of at the high­est lev­els, and in 2003 he was pro­moted: The pres­i­dent nom­i­nated Chris to lead the Crim­i­nal Divi­sion of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, and the U.S. Se­nate con­firmed him unan­i­mously. Ev­ery sen­a­tor from Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid to Jesse Helms rec­og­nized Chris’ im­pec­ca­ble cre­den­tials and qual­i­fi­ca­tions for that great re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Dur­ing our time work­ing to­gether at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Mr. Wray pros­e­cuted suc­cess­fully al Qaeda op­er­a­tive Zacarias Mous­saoui for con­spir­ing to kill U.S. cit­i­zens as part of the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks on Amer­ica. He played a key role in the pros­e­cu­tion of the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. snipers, John Allen Muham­mad and Lee Malvo, who mur­dered 10 peo­ple and wors­ened our na­tional anx­i­ety af­ter Septem­ber 11. He was in­stru­men­tal in form­ing the pres­i­dent’s Cor­po­rate Fraud Task Force and co­or­di­nat­ing the re­sponse to high­pro­file cor­po­rate ac­count­ing scan­dals.

Yet in spite of all of his pro­fes­sional ac­com­plish­ments, Mr. Wray has per­son­ally pre­ferred to main­tain a low pro­file. He is a work­horse. Mr. Wray is a per­son de­voted to the Con­sti­tu­tion, pro­foundly pro­fes­sional and fiercely in­de­pen­dent. I al­ways knew I could count on him to chal­lenge my views when he be­lieved them to be mis­taken.

Chris has won bi­par­ti­san en­dorse­ments from his fel­low for­mer U.S. at­tor­neys, in­clud­ing from for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder and for­mer Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Sally Yates. Last month the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee ap­proved his nom­i­na­tion for FBI direc­tor by a vote of 20 to 0. That kind of bi­par­ti­san­ship is rare in Wash­ing­ton these days, and is a tes­ta­ment to Chris’ char­ac­ter and record.

The much-needed restora­tion of re­spect for the rule of law in Amer­ica de­mands an FBI that pri­or­i­tizes law en­force­ment above and be­yond any per­sonal or po­lit­i­cal agenda.

Ex­tra­or­di­nary men and women of the FBI have worked for decades — be­hind the scenes and with­out recog­ni­tion — to pro­tect our coun­try from some of the most dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals in his­tory. They de­serve an ad­min­is­tra­tion that makes the rule of law the rule, and not the ex­cep­tion.

The Con­sti­tu­tion of the United States is the supreme law of Amer­ica. Chris Wray, as the in­de­pen­dent, pro­fes­sional direc­tor of the FBI, will re­spect and up­hold it. John D. Ashcroft is a for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney gen­eral.


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