[Net-Gold] Comey’s Mistaken Quest for Transparency

 

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Comey’s Mistaken Quest for Transparency

By Donald B. Ayer

October 30, 2016 at 2:03 PM

Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ comeys-mistaken-quest-for-transparency/2016/10/30/ fa3ab440-9ea4-11e6-8832-23a007c77bb4_story.html

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/hzmc2f5

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As an experienced prosecutor, FBI Director James B. Comey knows that the governments power to bring criminals to justice is as narrow as it is awesome. It can initiate proceedings that will put people in jail for decades, but only when it is ready and able to present evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt sufficient to persuade a jury of ones peers. Short of that, its job is to announce that no charges will be filed, and shut up. It is not the schoolmarm in chief, empowered to criticize the citizenry for perceived but uncharged digressions that fall short of chargeable crimes.

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So how in July did he become a public commentator on the moral failings of Hillary Clintons email practices, even as he maintained without quaver that no prosecutable case could be brought? And why on Friday, in the heat of the election contest, did he decide to share with the entire country as he must have known would happen the minute it arrived on the Hill  the totally obscure message that material pertinent to the investigation had been located and would be reviewed? Indeed, what gave him the conviction to so proceed, even over the reported objections of his bosses, the attorney general and the deputy attorney general?

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snip

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Fast-forward to 2016. Comey, now at the helm of the FBI, is again invited to play a pivotal role in a matter of great national importance  to make the final call on whether to recommend prosecution of the Democratic candidate for president for mishandling her emails and maintaining a separate server. In a Sept. 7 letter to FBI employees, he explained his thinking about the July decision in his characteristically straightforward way. He said that there were two aspects of the decision  whether to recommend prosecution and how to talk with the public about that decision:

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At the end of the day, the case was not a cliff-hanger; despite all the chest-beating by people no longer in government, there really wasnt a prosecutable case, he said. The hard part was whether to offer unprecedented transparency about our thinking. I explain to our alumni that I struggled with that part, but decided .?.?. to announce it in the way we did  with extraordinary transparency and without any kind of coordination.

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snip

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Fridays letter, providing notice of the discovery of documents that the FBI has not yet evaluated for significance, was a further exercise in full disclosure about the status of an investigation, and is likewise an inappropriate exercise of governmental power. Here, obviously, the interests of Clinton and her campaign are compromised by the public disclosure that the government has found some new documents of unknown content. Even more important, so are the interests of the country in conducting an election free from the foreseeable public confusion and potential electoral consequences, indeed here based on no substantive information at all.

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The short of it is that Comeys quest for transparency is quite out of place in the context of his role as the decision-maker whether to recommend prosecution. The governments job is to investigate, charge and prosecute, or announce that no charges will be brought. It has no business using the fruits of its investigation to provide commentary on the attributes of citizens, even if they are candidates for president. In failing to realize this, like many before him, Comey seems to have confused his sense of his stellar standing as a person and moral exemplar with the limits of his role as a public official.

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The complete article may be read at the URL above.

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Sincerely,
David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 – 4584
jwne@temple.edu
http://workface.com/e/daviddillard

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[Net-Gold] Comey’s Mistaken Quest for Transparency

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