Former federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald tells the Los Angeles Times of likely FBI director nominee James Comey: “When everyone else hits the panic button, he is clear-headed. So if you’re going to be stuck inside a foxhole with somebody, he’s the one you want to be stuck with.” Though Comey is highly respected and likely to be confirmed, he would have to answer tough questions from senators, about his work in the private sector.
Liberal groups have questioned his role as deputy attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, when many civil rights organizations complained that the FBI and federal prosecutors overstepped the Constitution in their pursuit of alleged terrorists. The Center for Constitutional Rights criticized a potential Comey nomination over his defense of a secret order that sent a Canadian man to Syria, where he was tortured. “We’re not sure recycling former Bush administration officials is a good formula for protecting civil liberties at the FBI,” said Shayana Kadidal, a lawyer for the group. American Civil Liberties Union director Anthony Romero criticized Comey for agreeing to enhanced interrogation techniques for some detained terrorism suspects, including waterboarding, and the open-ended detention of a U.S. citizen in a military brig. Comey, Romero said, “approved programs that struck at the very core of who we all are as Americans.”