National News

October 29, 2013

Obama says he picked Comey among many to lead FBI

WASHINGTON — From his days as a federal prosecutor to his installation ceremony as FBI director, James Comey’s law enforcement career was praised Monday by President Barack Obama as a success story that shows Comey is the right choice to lead the FBI for the next decade.

Three former FBI directors and two former attorneys general were on hand as Comey told more than 3,000 FBI employees and guests gathered in the agency’s courtyard on Pennsylvania Avenue that the FBI must be “independent of all political forces and interests.”

Comey took over last month for Robert Mueller, who stepped down after 12 years as FBI director. Obama says he picked Comey to lead the FBI after interviewing many other candidates for the job.

“He’s got the resume,” but more importantly, a strong sense of right and wrong, the president said.

In remarks emphasizing that the FBI must never abuse its power, Comey said he will direct that all new FBI agents visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington as a reminder of the agency’s excesses of the civil rights era when the FBI treated King and others as internal security threats and spied on them.

There are “dangers of becoming untethered to oversight and accountability,” Comey said.

The presence at the event of former Attorney General John Ashcroft symbolized a key piece of Comey’s past. In one of the most famous internal battles over the war on terrorism during the George W. Bush administration, Ashcroft and Comey stood together in refusing to sign off on a surveillance program they viewed as illegal.

Seated next to Ashcroft was his former chief of staff, David Ayres, who put in the phone call to Comey in March 2004 to go to the hospital and intercede as White House chief of staff Andrew Card and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales tried to get the approval of an ill and bedridden Ashcroft. Ashcroft, Comey and Mueller threatened to resign, and Bush changed the program.

Over the years, said Obama, Comey won the respect of everyone who came in contact with him, even one of the mobsters he was trying to send to prison. The mobster passed along a note praising his prosecutor.

Calling attention to the political warfare over his budget, Obama vowed to fight for the resources the bureau needs to do its job.

The audience at the ceremony included former FBI directors Mueller, William Webster and William Sessions, as well as former attorneys general Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey.

Comey took over last month for Mueller.

———

AP reporters Nedra Pickler and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this story.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Deal signs bill expanding gun rights in Georgia

    Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia.

    April 23, 2014

  • Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why?

    The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

    April 23, 2014

  • Indictment: Prosecutor targeted in kidnapping plot

    A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage

    As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    April 22, 2014

  • A bipolar doctor probes the brain on 'Black Box’

    ABC’s brainy new medical drama “Black Box” does a neat trick: It dares viewers to imagine for themselves the cost-benefit ratio of addiction, and does it without taking a firm stand.

    April 22, 2014

AP Video