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.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: fight for the future

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Petition Calls For James Comey To Hang Up His Anti-Encryption Hat And Resign As Head Of The FBI”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
J. Comey says:

FftF –

Please note that I cannot ‘step down’, as I am not standing on a ladder or raised platform. Furthermore, I am not a train and cannot, therefore, be ‘off the rails’. Your arguments and demands are nonsensical and illogical, and I cannot respond in any meaningful way to them.

Despite my confusion, I would be amenable to discussing the issue further if one of your members would be willing to come pick me up. I’m in the parking lot at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue. I can’t find my car, it’s reely dark, battery’s low, and I’m scared… there are roving bands of Guy Fawkeses (I think they’re Frenchmen?), cats are swarming like locusts, and every time I turn around another naked chick tries to shake me down for $39.99. (Not that I don’t like chicks. Ol’ Jim just got a lot of work to do, busy, always gotta get up early. But yeah, I like chicks and they like me right back. I meet most of my girlfriends when I’m working with CBP, up by Canada. So they’re all Canadian and I can’t introduce you to any of ’em. But y’know… hm. $40 bucks this one time couldn’t hurt, right? Just as a gag, y’know?)

Thx – JC

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Boaty McBoatface stuff?” Oh – you mean the campaign to name a British Natural Environment Research Council vessel?

Agreed – what a waste of time these online campaigns can be; silly to think such a thing could encourage discussion, debate, or media coverage? Just nonsense.

Yep, Boaty McBoatface stuff all the way.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The thing is, boaty is a perfect example. Someone suggested it in jest, and the “internet” jumped all over it and made it number 1. It isn’t a good choice or a logical choice, it’s just an internet for the lulz kinda thing.

A petition like this leads to people signing it for the same reason. It’s the lulz to run the number up more than anything. Since we all know that these sorts of things rank right up there with tea leaf reading with the current administration (Nancy Reagan is gone, thanks), it’s not going to do anything at all. Running the number of “signatures” up really won’t do much either, because nobody except guys like Mike will even pay attention (which makes one wonder if he gets paid or had a hand in it… but that would be another discussion).

“Agreed – what a waste of time these online campaigns can be; silly to think such a thing could encourage discussion, debate, or media coverage? Just nonsense. “

It would be good, except they do none of that, except with the people who were already discussing it – and perhaps 4chan.

I.T. Guy says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Or just maybe little wiLLie…. just maybe they agree with what was said.

FBI Director James Comey,

Your recent statements and actions in the Apple vs FBI case have made it clear: you’ve lost touch with reality in your misguided crusade against basic encryption technology. You repeatedly stated, under oath, that the FBI had no alternatives other than forcing Apple to build a backdoor into the San Bernardino iPhone, a claim that technology and security experts quickly disproved. If your statements to Congress were not outright lies, they imply that you are deeply ignorant of basic technology. In this modern age, that’s unacceptable for someone in your position. But the FBI’s very public mishandling of the Apple case is just the latest example of your dangerous lack of judgment and regard for civil liberties. The media may not mention it, but we remember that you authorized Bush’s massive, illegal domestic surveillance program; that you approved torture techniques like waterboarding; that you moved effortlessly from the DOJ to defense contractors and hedge fund boards and now to the FBI. 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.

We all know that the Apple v. FBI case was about more than just one iPhone. When pushed, you admitted as much yourself. This was just your latest of many attempts to circumvent the constitution in the name of fighting terrorism. But the worst part is that your quest against encryption is not only an attack on our civil liberties, it’s an attack on our all of our security and public safety. Encryption protects our hospitals, airports, and power plants. Your obsession with demonizing basic security technology could seriously harm our national security.

We’re not the only people who are concerned for you. Current and former NSA directors have spoken out against you. NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers has called the FBI’s campaign against encryption a “waste of time.” Rogers believes that end-to-end encryption is foundational to this country’s future.

When even the NSA thinks you’re spying too hard, it’s time to resign.

You’ve been pursuing this destructive path for a long time. As Deputy Attorney General under President Bush, you helped invent the illegal mass surveillance of all Americans, in part by forcing the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to rubber stamp a dramatically expanded (and illegal) reading of surveillance law, creating and subsequently upholding the NSA’s warrantless eavesdropping program.

Perhaps the most upsetting part of it all is that while the FBI under your leadership has committed itself to dangerous and illegal activities, you have refrained from doing a critical part of your job: investigating crimes committed by the politically powerful. Instead of prosecuting banks, you literally work for them. You haven’t even read the infamous torture report, which details flagrantly illegal activity by the government and even the FBI.

Why haven’t you investigated torture? Perhaps because you authorized “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding, or maybe because you personally pushed forward a case in which an American citizen was imprisoned and and tortured on American soil for years without a trial.

We’ve written to you today because enough is enough.

You’re hurting your own reputation, but you’re also hurting us. You’ve lost sight of what’s important, and what so many people love and value about America. If you continue as FBI Director, we believe you will do irrevocable harm to our country. We implore you to resign

I know I do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But hey, why not just let traitors and criminals run the FBI?

Remember, Comey has knowingly and with malicious intent lied to Congress and the Senate. He has also overseen the rise of malicious prosecutions by the FBI and actively encourages other LEOs to lie about where they got information from.

But he’s in the FBI, so who cares?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Lock Kurt Godel, Paul Cohen, and Whatever in a room together for an hour. When you let ’em out, Godel & Cohen will each be forced to say ‘that Whatever guy confused the hell out of me.’

Still, it’s good to know that the Continuum Hypothesis can be put to bed in ten seconds flat if you ask anyone with a badge & a gun.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

“things he couldn’t talk about and things he didn’t know. At times, it was difficult to distinguish between the two.”

I’m pretty well convinced that things are “secret” more times than not because of how stupid and embarassing they are; not because they are vital elements of some greater good. Comey, and his non-statements, seems to fall squarely in the former.

DannyB (profile) says:

Download book Applied Cryptography while it is still legal to do so

CRC Press
ISBN: 0-8493-8523-7
October 1996, 816 pages
Fifth Printing (August 2001)

It is still for sale. (Example: Amazon $84.10)

See this copyright information before downloading:

CRC press has granted the following specific permissions for the electronic version of this book:

* Permission is granted to retrieve, print and store a single copy of this chapter for personal use. This permission does not extend to binding multiple chapters of the book, photocopying or producing copies for other than personal use of the person creating the copy, or making electronic copies available for retrieval by others without prior permission in writing from CRC Press.

Except where over-ridden by the specific permission above, the standard copyright notice from CRC Press applies to this electronic version:

* Neither this book nor any part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

* The consent of CRC Press does not extend to copying for general distribution, for promotion, for creating new works, or for resale. Specific permission must be obtained in writing from CRC Press for such copying.

Once James Comey hears that this has been generously made available for download, for personal use, his head will explode!

OMG, but a download is a Lost Sail!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...