Petition Calls For James Comey To Hang Up His Anti-Encryption Hat And Resign As Head Of The FBI
from the running-away-with-the-unpopularity-contest dept
James Comey continues to cut himself adrift from the encryption debate, taking a hardline stance not reflected by others in the intelligence community. While he has a few voices in his echo chamber (mainly Manhattan DA Cy Vance and… well, that’s really about it), for the most part, Comey has become a street corner doomsayer, alternately crying out against the going-darkness and mumbling about “smart people” at “tech companies” and their unwillingness to carve government-sized doors in their encryption.
His testimony before Congress– during the heated battle with Apple over the unlocking of a dead terrorist’s iPhone — was mostly composed of things he couldn’t talk about and things he didn’t know. At times, it was difficult to distinguish between the two.
Maybe it’s time for the FBI to put someone more credible in charge. That’s what Fight for the Future believes. It’s crafted an online petition asking for Comey to step down as the FBI’s director. In support of its suggestion, it points to Comey’s lies to Congress about the San Bernardino iPhone, the mishandling of that case, the statements of former national security officials about the “stupidity” of punching holes in encryption, as well as his long history with the Bush Administration, in which Comey (as Deputy Attorney General) helped approve warrantless wiretapping programs and the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation technique.” Fight for the Future sums up:
We’re afraid that after all these years unchecked, you’ve lost sight of what’s good for American Democracy.
Director Comey, you’re off the rails and your extreme behavior is putting lives in danger.
The petition has gathered more than 8,000 signatures at the time of writing. Fight for the Future has no target number for signatures and openly admits its effort has zero chance of forcing Comey to resign.
Evan Greer, the campaign director at Fight for the Future, said in an email that the letter was designed to send a message and acknowledged that it would not prompt the resignation of Comey, whose 10-year term ends in 2023.
“I think this is more one of those ‘someone had to say it’ situations,” she said. “The goal of the letter is to show that Comey is isolated and extreme. Do I think he’s just going to read this and suddenly decide to resign? Probably not. But he’s increasingly losing credibility in D.C. and beyond, and we think this effort will help continue to highlight that.”
More people are saying it, not that it ultimately matters to the FBI. Those on the inside may not agree with Comey’s assertions, but they’re going to let him run his mouth because it has a very small chance of giving it something it wants: encryption backdoors. Even if the FBI has numerous options to break into devices, it can’t argue with the convenience of government-mandated backdoors.
But despite Comey’s repeated complaints, there’s nothing even remotely resembling legislative critical mass on the horizon. Months of saying the same thing over and over again has drummed up the support of a few state legislators in California and New York and surveillance aficionados Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr on Capitol Hill. That’s basically it. For the most part, even the government (at all levels) believes the government shouldn’t be undermining encryption.