Don’t Let Torture Supporter Head FBI


Target: Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick J. Leahy

Goal: Withdraw support from potential FBI Director based on his approval of torture

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey was recently nominated as future Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, pending approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, while serving in his previous capacity, Comey wrote that he “concurred” with multiple legal memos authorizing members of the FBI to torture suspected terrorists, in addition to a variety of other human rights issues. It is critical that the Judiciary committee find a candidate with a less tarnished record on human rights issues, particularly considering the history of FBI offenses.

The memos that Comey endorsed were penned in 2002, as part of the Bush administration’s attempts to evade international law against torture. The memo advised the FBI in the use of a variety of torture techniques, including cramped confinement, sleep deprivation, water torture and water-boarding. Comey wrote that he rightly recognized these techniques as “simply awful,” but nevertheless raised no objection to them.

Comey was also involved in the Valerie Plame leak investigation case, in which a number of reporters were jailed for protecting the anonymity of their sources, even after the source of the original leak had been found. Comey, as the acting superior of the lead prosecutor in the case, had the power to prevent a number of innocent journalists from being imprisoned but chose not to exercise it. Actions such as these show a dangerous bias against the free press, and bring to question Comey’s abilities to treat leak investigations ethically should he be appointed Director.

Considering the last decade’s controversies regarding both the usage of torture and the inappropriate handling of information leaks, it seems clear that someone partially responsible for both should not be Directing the Bureau forward. The Senate Judiciary Committee must reconsider their endorsement of Comey in order to ensure that FBI is led responsibly.


Dear Chairman Patrick J. Leahy,

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently considering whether or not to appoint former Deputy Attorney General James Comey Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the Bush era, Comey frequently wrote in support of so-called “torture memos,” which advocated the use of techniques which he himself acknowledged as “simply awful.” Later on, Comey was involved with the deeply unethical widespread jailing of reporters following the Valerie Plame information leaks.

It is vital that, considering the last decade’s manifold controversies over the Bureau’s use of torture and unethical leak investigation, that a more socially responsible person be put in charge of the FBI. Appointing James Comey as director of the FBI would be a mistake due to his disregard for unethical actions.


[Your Name Here]

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