James Comey, Fmr Deputy AG
Photo c/o Washington Post
Following is the latest juicy update from Josh Marhall’s TPM Muckraker. Contributor Paul Kiel is reporting that a timeline of the Bush 43 administration’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program is fast developing.
The first date to mark on your calendar, I think, is October 3, 2003. That’s when the Senate confirms Jack L. Goldsmith as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. In June, with Goldsmith’s nomination before the senate, John Yoo had left his job as the deputy at OLC to return to his teaching gig at Boalt.Fast forward to December 11, 2003, when Comey is confirmed as Deputy Attorney General. He immediately assumes a more aggressive posture than his predecessor, Larry Thompson. The Times reports this morning that “with Mr. Comey’s backing, Mr. Goldsmith questioned what he considered shaky legal reasoning in several crucial opinions, including some drafted by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo.”
But that was just the beginning. Thompson had not been authorized access to the details of the NSA program. But, reports the NYTimes, “Comey was eventually authorized to take part in the program and to review intelligence
material that grew out of it” (1/1/06). He set Goldsmith to the task of sorting through the program’s dubious legality. Goldsmith’s “review of legal memoranda on the N.S.A. program and interrogation practices became a source of friction between Mr. Comey and the White House,” the Times reports today. And we know from Comey’s testimony that by “the White House,” we mean, principally, Dick Cheney and David Addington.
There is much more in today’s TPM article, for instance, but my favorite part deals with an exchange between Senators Leahy and Spector, towards the end of the electrifying testimony by James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General, who was a key figure in the DoJ at this time. (Incidentally, Comey is also the person who appointed Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the Valerie Plame Wilson leak, while AG Ashcroft was in the hospital). See the aforementioned exchange below:
PS: There’s hope we’ll find out what was really going on. I’d highlight this portion of Specter’s remarks from the hearing: “Mr. Comey, it’s my hope that we will have a closed session with you to pursue the substance of this matter further. Because your standing up to them is very important, but it’s also very important what you found on the legal issue on this unnamed subject, which I infer was the terrorist surveillance program. And you’re not going to comment about it. I think you could. I think you could even tell us what the legalisms were. Doesn’t involve a matter of your advice or what the president told you, et cetera. But I’m going to discuss it with Senator Leahy later and see about pursuing that question to try to find out about it.”
And then Leahy, in response: “We will have a closed-door hearing on this. Senator Specter and I are about to have a briefing on aspects of this.” Can’t wait to hear what leaks out of that.
If you check out the (20 min. YouTube) video for James Comey’s remarkable testimony of May 15 2007, you will see for yourself how callous and brazen the current leadership of this nation truly is. Thank you James Comey for your integrity, both then and now.
Leahy and Spector: the spotlight is now on you and your committee. We are all watching you.