DOJ Tells Senator Wyden That Incoming FBI Director James Comey Has No Intention Of Answering His Questions

from the probably-not-the-best-idea dept

On Monday, the Senate overwhelmingly confirmed James Comey to be the new FBI director, despite significant concerns raised about his views on civil liberties and surveillance. Senator Rand Paul had blocked the vote for a while, claiming he wanted answers concerning whether or not Comey believed the FBI could use drones without a warrant. The FBI finally responded to Paul saying that it believed that it had the authority to use drones without a warrant, prompting Paul to stop the block (which would have been overridden shortly anyway), and then he was the lone "no" vote against Comey, who was approved 93-1. However, at least the DOJ was willing to answer Senator Paul's questions.

Senator Ron Wyden also expressed concerns about Comey's views on surveillance, and had sent a letter asking a variety of questions about Comey's views on the subject, "including whether he believes warrantless wire tapping is legal, and whether he would commit to explain how much evidence the FBI needs to track Americans using their cell phone location data." In response, the DOJ basically told Wyden to get lost:
Mr. Comey could have answered most or all of these questions without disclosing any properly classified information, but the Justice Department informed me today that he will not be responding to any of them.
Remember, Wyden serves on the Intelligence Committee, which is in charge of oversight of the intelligence community. One would think that flat out refusing to answer his questions is not the best way to respond to a member of the committee in charge of your oversight. In the end, Wyden voted "present" rather than "no," but stated that he could not vote in favor of Comey.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:34pm

    "One would think that flat out refusing to answer his questions is not the best way to respond to a member of the committee in charge of your oversight."

    It's better (for him at least) than flat out lying like Clapper did.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    yaga (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:40pm

    He should have voted no.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    oversight of the intelligence community

    Oversight must mean something different in the Political arena.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:41pm

    Is the DoJ subject to the purview of the Intelligence Committee? One of the more important points of American law enforcement is that the military (intelligence) and civilians (law enforcement) are supposed to be extremely distinctly separated. This is why there's been a lot of concern over the CIA "loaning" personnel to the NYPD and so on. Not that it's appropriate for the DOJ to stonewall congress in general, but I doubt there's direct oversight of the FBI from the senate intelligence committee.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:45pm

    Wow

    Obama's DOJ isn't even pretending to give a damn about our constitutional rights anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    Impressive, they aren't even pretending to have to answer for their actions any more, quite the 'oversight' they have there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    So, does that mean that we're allowed to surveil THEIR phones?

    ...I'm guessing no. God-damned hypocrites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Wow

    dems and repubs fundamentally the same.

    The Rest of the world has been waiting for decades to see when the citizens of the US will figure that one out.

    But nobody ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the general public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    I'll take a stand against this brazen refusal to answer my questions. But I won't go as far as voting no, that'd be insane.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    Re: oversight of the intelligence community

    They have their own dictionary with special definitions of words that we aren't allowed to see. Remember? "Oversight" must be one of those words.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:07pm

    Re: Wow

    He doesn't have to anymore. He can't get reelected again anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:10pm

    I'm sure glad we had that election for Mr Comey

    Oh wait

    We didn't, did we?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:14pm

    Re:

    The "FU" letter was written yesterday. That's well after the vote. He can't brazenly call everyone out on everything. He's the minority. He has to pick carefully when he goes completely crossways with others in Congress and make sure the squeeze is worth the juice. If he wasn't smart about things like this he would never have ended up on the Intelligence Committee in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    unnamed_1 (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Goodbye Budget

    DOJ should maybe be more worried about Sen. Wyden's position on the Finance Committee.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    So now the Director of the FBI no longer has to submit himself to congressional oversight either?

    This is not how the Founding Fathers intended this country to operate.

    We no longer have a Constitution, that's been rewritten by the secret FISC court. We can't even read the laws anymore, because the laws are secret.

    There's no longer any checks and balances in government anymore, because the FBI does not need to answer congress' questions.

    Now all we need to do is start throwing elections, and the downfall of of this countries democracy will be complete.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

    Re:

    He is nominated by the President then confirmed by the Senate for a term not to exceed 10 years. That's the way the position is filled.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/faqs

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Goodbye Budget

    'Well as you refuse to say your positions, and therefor your intended actions, on anything, I'm afraid I just cannot agree to the budget you have proposed, and will have to suggest drastic cuts until such time as you are willing to give me evidence to justify your spending.'

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Wow

    There are big differences between Dems and Repubs, but they have one similarity that overrides those differences - they are all rich, and their friends are all rich, and keeping rich people rich trumps any party ideals.

    It's not the D or R after their name we should be looking at, it's the $ in their bank accounts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Goodbye Budget

    Sounds good to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

    Re:

    A symbol of disapproval instead of a symbol of concern. It is basically worthless to vote against him since ho knows how it would go. Pure symbolic gestures are not gonna win you anything but an Oscar or a Grammy...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 3:29pm

    DOJ, FBI, Senate...you can all suck it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 3:31pm

    and you still think that the USA isn't fast becoming 'a police state'? how can it be possible for one of the persons that decides the fate of a security agency to be told that, basically, 'you can take a hike'? it smacks to me that these agencies are of the opinion that they can do and say what they want and are answerable to no one! doesn't that frighten anyone else? it scares the crap out of me!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Zos (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 3:59pm

    Re:

    why does it make a difference? in either case there are no consequences.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    kitsune361, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 4:09pm

    Re:

    "Now all we need to do is start throwing elections, and the downfall of of this countries democracy will be complete."

    We had the Supreme Court effectively decide one in 2000, and Republican state houses have been trying really hard to stack the deck for future elections for the last few years. There are few if any places where you see any sort of push back from the judiciary.

    If that's your criteria I'd say it's all over except the concession speech.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 4:21pm

    Re: oversight of the intelligence community

    Oversight is more like overlook, and less like look over.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wow

    It should be easy to whip up a Greasemonkey script that replaces "D" or "R" with their estimated net worth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 6:13pm

    Contempt of Congress

    Congress has the authority to hold a person in contempt if the person's conduct or action obstructs the proceedings of Congress or, more usually, an inquiry by a committee of Congress.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/contempt_of_congress

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 31st, 2013 @ 5:12am

    LOL! Talk about a rogue government! Like they are giving a Senator, part of the very oversight committee, a big fat middle finger! That's bold. Seems to me they are not afraid of anything anymore. Which is frightening.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re:

    Cripes, 99% of politics is symbolic gestures...

    My guess is that voting 'no' would have had some repercussion from the leadership, so he just didn't vote.

    Who knows.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 7:26am

    I can not even begin to imagine what would happen if every member of the Senate sent out a letter like this every time a nomination was made.

    Wyden was engaged in nothing more than political theater, an act hardly deserving of praise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 31st, 2013 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re:

    ^ a million times this...

    one of our major problems in a nutshell: draconian consequences for you and me in the 99% for copying bits, eating pop tarts in the shape of a gun, or, well WHATEVER the fuck they want to jack us up for today (the criminalization of living); but scumbags who betray the constitution, steal the wealth of the country, lie with impunity, get nothing but cushy jobs and medals of freedom...

    world gone crazy...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Jul 31st, 2013 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow

    Or just a $ sign.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Wow

    I'd use that script.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    btr1701, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re:

    > and Republican state houses have been trying
    > really hard to stack the deck for future
    > elections for the last few years

    Let's not pretend the Dems are any better when it comes to gerrymandering. There's a district in Texas, drawn back when the Dems were last in charge of things, that looks like a piece of spaghetti. Less than a mile wide, it winds and corkscrews from one end of the state to the other, over 800 miles, coicidentally only passing through areas that highly favor Democrats.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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