Former Bush official tapped as FBI chief
June 21st, 2013
02:43 PM ET
10 years ago

Former Bush official tapped as FBI chief

(CNN) – James Comey, who served as a top Justice Department official during George W. Bush's presidency, was tapped to become the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Friday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Comey would replace Robert Mueller, who is leaving in September after leading the bureau for 12 years.

"Jim is exceptionally qualified to handle the full range of challenges faced by today's FBI," President Barack Obama said during Friday's Rose Garden announcement. "From traditional threats like violence and organized crime, to protecting civil rights and children from exploitation, to meeting transnational challenges like terrorism and cyber threats."

Comey's caseload as a former prosecutor who worked in New York and Virginia included terrorism, organized crime and fraud. He served as a deputy attorney general during the Bush administration, a role for which he has received both praise and criticism from outside groups.

Comey testified to a Senate committee in 2007 that he considered resigning his high-profile position over a disagreement three years earlier about the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.

Government officials had told CNN that Comey had "vigorously opposed" aspects of the warrantless wiretapping program and refused to sign off on its continued use. The program was eventually reauthorized.

The appointment comes as the Obama administration wrestles with new controversy surrounding NSA surveillance involving phone records and e-mail – something Obama alluded to Friday.

"As we've seen in recent days, this work of striking a balance between our security, but also making sure we are maintaining fidelity to those values that we cherish, is a constant mission," Obama said, noting he was "confident that Jim will be a leader who understands how to keep America safe and stay true to our founding ideals no matter what the future may bring."

Human rights groups have criticized Comey's alleged support of other controversial Bush-era national security policies such as indefinite detention and detainee treatment programs like waterboarding.

Since leaving government, Comey has worked in executive positions at defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the financial management firm Bridgewater and Associates.

Currently he works in academia as a senior research scholar and Hertog Fellow in National Security Law at Columbia Law School.

Mueller officially started the FBI job days before the 9/11 terror attacks and later saw the agency through terrorism and other high-profile cases.

Mueller's term had been set to expire in September 2011 - per the 10 years that FBI directors typically serve - but, at Obama's request, Congress approved a two-year extension. He's now scheduled to step down in September.

On Friday, Obama thanked the outgoing FBI director, saying "Countless Americans are alive today and our country is more secure because of the FBI's outstanding work under the leadership of Bob Mueller."

Filed under: FBI • George W. Bush • James Comey
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Mr. Snowden is an American hero....anyone who says otherwise is the real traitor and should rot in hell.

    June 21, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. tom l.

    Oh, I totally forgot about the drones! You guys are now okay with drones flying over our heads spying us AND you also love the fact that innocent people are being killed overseas by our stepped up drone program! Yay! Drones are good now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 21, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. tom l.

    I see you have conveniently not responded to my comment. Truth hurts, huh?

    June 21, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. cedar rapids

    'tom l. – Here comes the fun hypocrisy of the left on here. So this guy supported waterboarding. You still support his nomination?'

    Actually I think you will find he didnt. He said it was most likely legal but that it was wrong.

    'While signing off on the techniques, Mr. Comey in his e-mail provided a firsthand account of how he tried unsuccessfully to discourage use of the practices. He made a last-ditch effort to derail the interrogation program, urging Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to argue at a White House meeting in May 2005 that it was โ€œwrong.โ€

    โ€œIn stark terms I explained to him what this would look like some day and what it would mean for the president and the government,โ€ Mr. Comey wrote in a May 31, 2005, e-mail message to his chief of staff, Chuck Rosenberg. He feared that a case could be made โ€œthat some of this stuff was simply awful.โ€

    June 21, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. Ralph

    @muffy7 if we stop picking people apart based on party affiliations, and look at their qualifications instead, I think this nation will be a lot better for it. What does it matter that he may be a Republican or Democrat when it comes to running the FBI? If it was for supreme court justice, then maybe I can see your point.. but I think as a U.S. Citizen, his responsibility would be to protect all of us, republican or democrat..

    June 21, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Silence DoGood

    Obama: After bombing civilians, ignoring Guantanamo promise, spying on citizens, and harassing dissenters, what can I do to be even less deserving of the Peace Prize? Oh I know!...... Appoint a Bush guy that supports "indefinite detention and detainee treatment programs like waterboarding".

    What was the Change we were promised again?
    You neo-libertarians are sounding delusional. No one has dropped bombs on US citizens. As for the Nobel Peace Prize, well there's a real simple explanation for that. You see, the rest of the world was so thankful that the American voters did not elect a Republican in 2008, (it was war monger McCain, don't forget), that they awarded the prize to the American voters. They just asked Pres. Obama to come and claim it, and keep it safe for us ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 21, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    An American hero that hides? Heros are people who stand-up for what the believe and accept responsibility not run; he is running so I consider you worst than him for supporting his behavior

    June 21, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. cedar rapids

    'tom l.
    Oh, I totally forgot about the drones! You guys are now okay with drones flying over our heads spying us AND you also love the fact that innocent people are being killed overseas by our stepped up drone program! Yay! Drones are good now. '

    All your arguments so far seem to be also true of the reverse...that the right that were for such things are now against such things, and yet you seem to aim your barbs purely at the left's 'hypocrisy', whilst ignoring that of the right.

    You also seem to be making a lot of assumptions as to what the left were for or against in the past.

    And such obviously ridiculous comments like 'AND you also love the fact that innocent people are being killed overseas by our stepped up drone program! Yay! ' are hardly worthy of someone who moans about ad hominem attacks.

    June 21, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Dominican mama

    I haven't been paying much attention to the ticker lately, but I have noticed when I do show up that you have yourself a ... well, a follower of sorts. Some might even call tom I. a stalker. Just saying.

    June 21, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. JomoDaMusicMan

    Obama is beginning to have more & more confidence in GW Bush and his Regime than his loyal supporters. Keep Appointing White Republicans Males who overwhelming voted against him. Barry, u keep slapping the Black Community in the face and we keep turning the other cheek by loving you.

    June 21, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Grainte

    This is precisely why Obama's ratings drop. He's selecting republicans to fill important positions. Do you really think Bush/Cheney would have selected a democrat? I'm sorry to say that Obama is NOT a liberal. Yes, he leans left but not anywhere near enough. Hillary in 2016 ! ! ! !

    June 21, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Ken

    Obama has outsourced all defense related affairs to Republicans.... Soon they will fit a camera into our bedrooms..

    June 21, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. darth's daughter

    Congratulations! Another Facebook do you miss him yet Pres. George Bush employee, what a surprise, and the change is?

    June 21, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Michael Benjamin

    So what will be the Republican excuses to stall or deny this confirmation?

    June 21, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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