Obama’s Pick to Lead FBI Approved Waterboarding Under Bush: Time to Speak Out

While most of us are enjoying an extra-long July 4th weekend, James Comey, a top Bush lawyer who approved waterboarding and torture, is getting ready for one of his last hurdles before becoming FBI director. I'm sure that torture supporters are hoping that we spend more time at the beach and pool, and don't dig into Comey’s record.

Behind this nomination is a strange and ironic story. Beginning on Tuesday, President Obama might end up getting done what President Bush failed to do during nearly all of his last four years in office. All President Obama needs is for the Senate—and all of us—to look the other way while rubber-stamping his choice to head the FBI for the next 10 years.

As you may remember, after getting Alberto Gonzales confirmed as attorney general at the start of his second term, President Bush spent the next four years trying—and failing—to get the Senate to confirm any other members of his torture policy team. The Senate, under both Republican control and Democratic control, stood up to President Bush and turned away nominee after nominee with a record of approving water boarding or other torture. It was a principled and bipartisan rejection of rewarding the Bush administration’s torture policies.

But in a bizarre twist, James Comey—who served as deputy attorney general under both John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, and who twice gave a thumbs-up to torture—has been nominated to be the FBI director for the next decade. As FBI director, Comey would oversee nearly all of the country's most important interrogations and criminal investigations of government officials who torture or abuse prisoners at home or abroad.”

Will the fox be put in charge of the henhouse? Will someone who at least twice gave a thumbs-up to waterboarding and torture be put in charge of the FBI?  Will torture be treated as a serious crime if there is an FBI director who ordered a Justice Department legal memo written that was designed to keep torturers from ever being prosecuted for their crimes?

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a one-day hearing on whether it will confirm Comey as the next FBI director.  Will he glide through based on his backing by President Obama, or will senators stand up and ask the same tough questions that they asked of a parade of Bush nominees with torture-approving records?

Two senior senators on the Judiciary Committee—Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)—courageously stepped forward this week and wrote a letter to Comey asking him to explain his torture record and making clear their deep concern. They are asking the very same questions that they asked of many nominees with torture records during the Bush administration.

(Read a coalition letter from the ACLU and six other human rights to the Senate Judiciary Committee, raising concerns over Comey’s record on torture.)

But it is now up to all of us too. Ask your senators to ask the same tough questions and apply the same rigorous test to Comey that they applied to everyone else who was part of the inner circle of Bush lawyers who schemed to try to keep torturers from ever being prosecuted for their crimes.

Comey had a big job as deputy attorney general under Attorneys General Ashcroft and Gonzales. And he is now up for a huge job as FBI director. Every senator—and every one of us—should be demanding to know exactly what role he had in the waterboarding and torture program. 

Ask your senators not to let this one slide through unnoticed—and let your senators know that you will be following the hearing on Tuesday (which will be webcast here). 

There is no more patriotic way to spend the July 4 weekend than to say NO to waterboarding and torture.

For a deeper look into James Comey’s record as the second-highest-ranking official in the Bush Department of Justice, please see "James Comey: A Closer Look."

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Jada Pirson

Those who support Remembering Roe and other opponents of abortion believe that moving from this point forward will mark a new beginning that will ultimately lead to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and the support of legislation that values life on all levels.

gchu

Obama's nomination of Comey was a despotic deed. This repudiated his presidential campaign of "hope and change" and his oath of office to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Obama's deplorable choice of the despicable Comey and the NSA scandal call for Obama's resignation so the country can get off the wrong track.

Jim Fitzgerald

So...the problem is what? Did we secure the information we needed WITHOUT HURTING THE PERSON!!!!

Jim

Anonymous

Waterboarding? It is sad that ACLU forgets what the "A" stands for. You idiots want to protect those trying to hurt Americans. Worry about protecting us not our enemies.

Anonymous

The person I know who died in Tower 1, the one everybody claims they "do all this for," would NEVER EVER have approved of this and I know it for sure.
I read papers he wrote that came into my possession after the reading of his Will.
He used to like answering questions of moral predicaments one could get into and one of the questions he was asked was "Would you want people to kill in your name if your death sparked the possibility of a war between nations?"

His answer was that he thought it would be the saddest thing ever if people decided to avenge his death by creating more deaths and sowing more hatred among people.
He never believe his death would actually cause a situation like that. He thought that he would have to "be way more important in the grand scheme" than he was to attract such an issue. But he answered the question anyway, b/c he spent the last half of his life protesting hatred and anger.

That's how I not only can guess but know for sure he wouldn't approve of ANY of this stuff. Not waterboarding or any of the other stuff I've been hearing that I wish I would have heard before I voted for that dimwit Bush the SECOND time.

Anonymous

It seems like what some people are saying, as near as I can interpret from their comments, is that "we had to become the very thing we hated (terrorists) to accomplish capturing the terrorists of Al Qaeda (all of whom we hated and by implication through our actions, wanted to distance ourselves from.")
So why did George Bush Junior allow all the horrific torture we used in questioning them for data and become the thing he told my family he hated, which was terrorists and terrorism. He clearly wanted us to believe he was NOTHing like that and would "make sure all the people who are and had brought your loved one to this tragic end would feel the repercussions?"
Why did he have entry-level soldiers court-martialed just bc they failed to follow the guidelines of using excessive force to pry answers from them?

He told us he would not rest until he brought every single person responsible for doing it to justice and then ignored the one "person" who masterminded and funded the entire plot: Usama bin Laden. He stopped looking for the man to go on a little excursion into Iraq and then spent more time there than looking for bin Laden.

As far as I'm concerned he did neither Eric, my daughter's dad who died in Tower 1, nor any other of the nearly 3,000 victims nor every other American any favors.
What he accomplished in spades, you might say, was to prove he was capable of becoming the very thing he hated in order to restore some kind of "sense" to the world after any semblance of order had fallen apart.
Well, I'm positive he did NOT do THAT for the benefit of our family.
What happened will never make sense to his family and friends.
Discovering all this data has succeeded in making me feel as if the terrorists punished him for no reason by killing him and then my own government re-punished him by connecting his death to something he would have found repulsive.
I feel like I've been punished twice on top of grieving almost constantly, and now I have to tell my daughter this news I never anticipated. And it feels just like it did the first time, when I had to look into her eyes and tell her she'd never see her dad on earth again. I hated the task and loathe the idea of her finding it out the unfortunate way that *I* did, so I feel an obligation to tell her before someone else does and bypasses the most discrete was of doing it.

To my dying day, I'll never stop seeking accountability for every player in this evil plot who knew beforehand what he/she would do and then did it without question or scruples.
To my dying day, I'll never stop wondering how much more our family will have to take before we can ever find any closure in the matter. Or at least some type of balm to apply to the wound and prevent it from weeping constant pain.

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