ELECTION NEWS... 'J. Edgar Comey' attack on Clinton comes as no surprise... Nothing really new about this latest from the 'FBI'... Maybe it should be called the 'J. Edgar Comey' regime with more history for those who've forgotten so much...

Despite some liberal attempts to whitewash the history, readers need to remember that the authorization to wiretap Martin Luther King Jr. was made by (then) Attorney General Robert Kennedy (above right). The authorization by Kennedy left J. Edgar Hoover (left), head of the FBI, with a free hand to attack the civil rights leaders and leak FBI information -- always off the record -- to red-baiting and race-baiting news organizations like Chicago's Chicago Tribune.With barely one week until the end of voting in the election of 2016, another "bombshell." And this one is not from the Twitter ramblings of Donald Trump, but from the "FBI" (sort of). Suddenly the latest chief of the FBI is making public dirt on one presidential candidate. On October 29, James Comey, leaked a letter indicating the possibility that some emails might indicate that Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton might have done something wrongly. But before the conversation continues for too long, let's remember that the FBI has always been a tool of reactionary power in the USA, and that historical amnesia will not serve voters and other citizens well either now or into the future.

Reading the latest news outbreak from FBI Director Comey, I waited a day wondering whether any of the historical revisionism would be corrected in the nation's corporate media. After all, for decades, during the time that J. Edgar Hoover was FBI chief, the FBI meddled directly in elections and other political activities at every level in the USA. Although the most dramatic examples included the lurid attacks by Hoover on Martin Luther King Jr., the most serious long-term were the attacks on unions and protests from the very beginning of Hoover's regime (during the 1920s) and all the way to the end. Those of us who were activists during the 1960s in Chicago will recall that the Chicago Tribune had a reporter who took the FBI's lies straight from Hoover's staff and put them on the front page of the largest circulation newspaper in the Midwest. (One favorite: The plot by Yuppies and other Commies to put LSD in Chicago's drinking water during the Democratic Convention of 1968).

Clearly, Hillary Clinton now joins an honorable line of leaders who were stabbed front and back by the FBI. The latest attack by the FBI on a candidate should therefore come as no surprise, especially given all the material the FBI should have on the illegal activities of Donald Trump and his businesses.

A detailed analysis of Comey's attack on Clinton has just appeared on line in The New Yorker. One of the interesting things about the New Yorker analysis (and much other liberal comment) is how it leaves out so much real history. To act as if the FBI has long been a neutral observer of American civic life is dishonest...


Traditionally, the Justice Department has advised prosecutors and law enforcement to avoid any appearance of meddling in the outcome of elections, even if it means holding off on pressing cases. One former senior official recalled that Janet Reno, the Attorney General under Bill Clinton, “completely shut down” the prosecution of a politically sensitive criminal target prior to an election. “She was adamant—anything that could influence the election had to go dark,” the former official said.

Four years ago, then Attorney General Eric Holder formalized this practice in a memo to all Justice Department employees. The memo warned that, when handling political cases, officials “must be particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality, and nonpartisanship.” To guard against unfair conduct, Holder wrote, employees facing questions about “the timing of charges or overt investigative steps near the time of a primary or general election” should consult with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division.

The F.B.I. director is an employee of the Justice Department, and is covered by its policies. But when asked whether Comey had followed these guidelines and consulted with the Public Integrity Section, or with any other department officials, Kevin Lewis, a deputy director of public affairs for the Justice Department, said, “We have no comment on the matter.”

According to the Administration official, Lynch asked Comey to follow Justice Department policies, but he said that he was obliged to break with them because he had promised to inform members of Congress if there were further developments in the case. He also felt that the impending election created a compelling need to inform the public, despite the tradition of acting with added discretion around elections. The Administration official said that Lynch and Justice Department officials are studying the situation, which he called unprecedented.

Matthew Miller, a Democrat who served as the public-affairs director at the Justice Department under Holder, recalled that, in one case, the department waited until after an election to send out subpoenas. “They didn’t want to influence the election—even though the subpoenas weren’t public,” he said. “People may think that the public needs to have this information before voting, but the thing is the public doesn’t really get the information. What it gets is an impression that may be false, because they have no way to evaluate it. The public always assumes when it hears that the F.B.I. is investigating that there must be something amiss. But there may be nothing here at all. That’s why you don’t do this.”

“Comey is an outstanding law-enforcement officer,” Miller said, “but he mistakenly thinks that the rules don’t apply to him. But there are a host of reasons for these rules.”

As Miller sees it, Comey’s “original sin” was the press conference he held in July regarding the Clinton e-mail investigation. At that press conference, Comey stated that the F.B.I. had found no reason to bring criminal charges against Clinton for using a private e-mail server to handle much of her State Department business, but that Clinton and her staff had been “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, extremely classified information.” Comey made clear that he had decided to make this comment without any sign-off from the Justice Department. Ordinarily, when no charges are brought, such matters are not exposed to public view, let alone addressed at press conferences.

Comey’s supporters argue that he had to act independently, and publicly, because Lynch had compromised herself by having an impromptu visit with Bill Clinton late in the investigation. In the ensuing uproar, Lynch promised to accept Comey’s recommendation on whether to bring charges against Clinton. But, as Miller notes, Comey’s press conference triggered a series of other events, including congressional hearings where Comey was forced to defend his decision not to recommend prosecution. Comey’s letter to Congress on Friday updated his earlier statements that the Clinton e-mail investigation had ended.

In a letter to F.B.I. employees sent soon after the letter to Congress, Comey tried to explain his unusual decisions. In the letter, which was obtained by the Washington Post, he acknowledged, “Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season,” he noted, “there is significant risk of being misunderstood.”

“I don’t really blame Comey,” another former Justice Department official said. “But it’s troubling.” This official thought that Comey “didn’t want to look tainted. This new information comes to him, and he’s afraid if he doesn’t make it public until after the election he’ll be impeached. People will say he lied to Congress. But in the end he did the self-protective thing. Was it the right thing? Put it this way: it isn’t what previous Administrations have done.”

Jane Mayer has been a New Yorker staff writer since 1995.


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