Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Man Who Saved Fitzmas


I must confess I never understood.......

How did a guy who was made by Rudy Giuliani, who was hired by George Bush, and who was taken under the wing of John Ashcroft ever manage to do the right thing?



Who the heckfire am I talking about?

A guy named James Comey, the former Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

Here's a capsule summary of the man written by New York Magazine's Chris Smith on the eve of his appointment as the Deputy AG in late 2003.

Comey has been savaged by William Safire and lauded by Chuck Schumer; just what kind of Republican is he, anyway?

This sets Comey howling again. “I must be doing something right!” he says. “In college, I was left of center, and through a gradual process I found myself more comfortable with a lot of the ideas and approaches the Republicans were using.” He voted for Carter in 1980, but in ’84, “I voted for Reagan—I’d moved from Communist to whatever I am now. I’m not even sure how to characterize myself politically. Maybe at some point, I’ll have to figure it out.”

Or maybe he’s being disingenuous. Because three hours later, Comey gets a phone call from Washington: President George W. Bush is nominating him as the No. 2 man to Attorney General John Ashcroft. On the surface, it’s an odd pairing: Comey—who cites liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as a formative influence, and who can sing along with Good Charlotte pop-punk hits—and Ashcroft, a reactionary born-again Christian who breaks into spirited renditions of biblical hymns. There’s little risk Comey will lose his sense of humor in his new job.

It’s only his soul that’s up for grabs.

And this week Mr. Comey demonstrated that he kept his soul between then and now when he testified before the very same Chuck Schumer named above at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing (see testimony above and/or this fantastic capsule summary by the fabulous Marcy Wheeler) and told the whole world about how then Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales and Whitehouse Chief of Staff Andrew Card once burst in to the hospital room of a gravely ill Aschroft and tried to force him to sign off on an egregious wiretapping/evesdropping bill that everyone concerned at the Dept of Justice, including Ashcroft, Comey and all their deputies figured was completely illegal.

Comey was in that hospital room with reinforcements from his own office and the FBI because he had been alerted to Gonzales' and Card's impending arrival by Ashcroft's wife who had been informed of the coming 'visit' by, reportedly, Mr. Bush himself.

And in that hospital room Comey stared the President's men down.

As a result, Gonzales and Card left without Ashcroft's signature.

It's really quite a remarkable story that demonstrates the depths to which these people will go to steal souls.

But, clearly, they didn't get Comey's.


Now, you may have noticed that I said Mr. Comey did the right thing twice.

The second thing he did right was appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as the special prosecutor in the PlameGate/Libby Case.

And then as it became clear that Mr. Fitzgerald was going to go to the mat on the matter of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in order to discredit her wife Joseph Wilson because he had exposed the bogus Whitehouse claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger during the run-up to the sowing of the killing fields in Iraq, I could never quite figure out how Mr. Comey managed to keep the Rovians from firing Mr. Fitzgerald.

Or, put another way, how did Mr. Comey keep the Whitehouse jackals at bay while Fitzgerald kept digging and set the stage for all that has come after, including the conviction of Scooter Libby and the exposure of the co-opting of everything by people like Mr. Cheney, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Rove and all the others who were wiping their feet daily on the U.S. Constitution?

Now, I think we know.

Because in the aftermath of Gonzales' and Card's attempt at the drive-by hospital bed extortion in March of 2004, Card attempted to browbeat Comey and the entire Dept of Justice into submission.

But Comey did not back down.

Instead, he convinced Mr. Ashcroft and all their underlings in the Dept of Justice to resign if the bill went through. He also, apparently, convinced FBI boss Robert Mueller to resign also.

Comey then went to the Whitehouse and fought back.

In the end, after a private meeting with George Bush, the Rovians backed down.

And Comey stayed, secure in the knowledge that the Rovians knew darned well that there were people with some principle, even if they were Republicans, that had his back.

And Fitzgerald was able to do his job.

And now it looks like maybe, just maybe, the United States is starting to become a nation of laws rather than men once again.

And that is very, very very good news indeed.

Written to Bruce Springsteen's Darkness, especially 'Racing In The Streets'.


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