Comey Sending Out His Allies as Ferguson Effect Truthers

When Chuck Rosenberg, the Acting EPA Chief, echoed Jim Comey’s suggestion that increased surveillance of cops had led to a chilling effect leading them to stop doing their jobs …

Chuck Rosenberg, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, said Wednesday that he agrees with FBI Director James Comey that police officers are reluctant to aggressively enforce laws in the post-Ferguson era of capturing police activity on smartphones and YouTube.

“I think there’s something to it,” Rosenberg said during a press briefing on drug statistics at DEA headquarters in Arlington. “I think he’s spot on. I’ve heard the same thing.”

… I reminded that Rosenberg is also Comey’s former Chief of Staff, from when Comey was Deputy Attorney General in the Bush Administration.

Which is why I find it interesting that the White House has suggested President Obama raised the issue with Comey in a meeting this week.

Asked whether Mr. Obama would call in the two men to discuss the issue privately, Mr. Earnest noted that Mr. Comey met with the president last week, and he strongly hinted that the president chided his F.B.I. director on the subject.

“The president is certainly counting on Director Comey to play a role in the ongoing debate about criminal justice reform,” Mr. Earnest said, suggesting that Mr. Obama expected Mr. Comey to uphold the president’s view on the matter.

While he was Comey’s CoS, remember, Comey made sure he was in the loop on torture discussions he otherwise wouldn’t be, as Comey made an effort to limit some of what got approved in the May 2005 torture memos. That was partly to make sure the torturers didn’t use his absence to push through the memo, but also partly (it seems clear now) to lay out his own record of events.

Given the timing (and the distinct possibility Rosenberg endorsed Comey’s Ferguson Effect views after Comey got chewed out by the President), this feels like a concerted bureaucratic stand. Of course, these two allies’ role atop aggressive law enforcement agencies, Comey just 2 years into a 10-year term, stubbornly repeating police claims, is a pretty powerful bureaucratic stand for cops who want to avoid oversight.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

10 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    I’m puzzled by why Rosenberg and Comey say “police officers are reluctant to aggressively enforce laws” like that is a bad thing. Are they seriously saying that the police ought to be using chokeholds, tasers, and guns MORE often on folks who jaywalk, drive with broken taillights, and “playground while black”? Ol’ J. Edgar must be smiling in his grave.
    .
    If there are police officers who object to not being able to aggressively enforce laws, Comey and others in supervisory positions ought to help these poor folks out. “We take your objection so seriously that we will not put you in that position. Please leave your gun and your badge on the desk on the way out the door.”
    .
    I also want a pony.
    .
    Comey’s not helping either the front-line police officers he professes to be worries about, nor the communities torn by distrust. Enforcement of the law isn’t the problem. Over-the-top aggression is.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think he’s saying he wants his own agency to be able to continue to administer metaphorical chokeholds with no oversight.

  2. TarheelDem says:

    First of all, it is clear the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover still stalks the halls of his eponymous building. From the very beginning, the FBI has been a rogue agency in government.

    Second, that is as close to refusing to acknowledge Presidential legitimacy as a top-level official can come. Does the FBI Director serve at the pleasure of the President, or are we stuck with Comey for another eight years? Oh, snap, there is the Senate confirmation crap, isn’t there.

    Third, that is a declaration that the law enforcement profession has no intention of ridding itself of the institutional racism that was baked into the attitudes from the beginning. And likely, that means that it also has no intention of ridding itself of its endemic corruption.

    Fourth, that places the US federal police in the same state as their equivalents in most developing countries (er, banana republics).

    There is a growing sense of being frozen in dysfunction in US political life.

  3. orionATL says:

    now we are getting into territories that i think encompass two major failures of the obama presidency –

    the repeated inclination to accede to the demands of the major “power” bureaucracies – treasury, dod, cia, dhs, nsa, doj: banking and banksters, torture, drones, guantanamo, immigration, torture report shenanigans, omniscent spying, ruthless, sophistical prosecutors, legal abuse of whistleblowers, …….

    and

    from henry louis gates/crowley forward, the failure to specifically and with partiality advance the wellbeing of black americans.

    in my view president obama has displayed three personal deficiences that have contributed to this bureaucratic coddling and failure to support black americans, who were a phenomenaly loyal constituency f the president’s –

    he was inexperienced in washington politics, e.g., above plus years seeking grand budget agreement,

    he is at core a hard-hearted law-and-order conservative (see grandma’sinfluence),

    he was timorous about being a black president who overtly helped his black constituence, probably for fear of its influence on electibility, just one . more more dem politician who was cowardly about speaking out on what makes his party different from the party of the rich and the ignorant.

    alas for the prez remaking an era’s history toward its end can prove difficult.

    • orionATL says:

      o.k. i’m throwing one more damned shoe.

      this president has treated the government bureaucracies like some university provosts treats its colleges – the college makes its own decisions about what to teach, who to hire, and who and how to disciplne. the provost intervenes only rarely, and reluctantly, and without consequencies.

      lyndon johnson he ain’t.

  4. bmaz says:

    Yes yes, I know it is my trademark, but the title to this post still should have been:

    Hospital Hero™ Comey Sending Out His Allies as Ferguson Effect Truthers

  5. orionATL says:

    is there anything to this?
    .
    http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/11/homegrown-spies.html
    .

    is our u.s. police force, now clearly misnamed the fbi, really going to foster a school spying program?

    – the fbi seems always ready to exploit any area of social science or biology, no matter how scientifically unformed or questionable, if it will allow warrants to be issued and doj convictions to be obtained.

    – what in god’s name is the fbi doing meddling in school systems for any reason?

    a sample of what the fbi p.r. folk would call a caring, vonciliatory message from an fbi director – yuck to this disingenuous bureaucratise:

    https://m.fbi.gov/#https://www.fbi.gov/news/speeches/partnership-against-terrorism

    that was in very scary, much hystery, 2002.

    this is now, the national government meddling in schools, but in the u.k.:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/06/horse-uk-muslim-school-witch-hunt-2014610115441676100.html

    coming to your u.s. school soon, since we two have become mirror image, murdoch societies.

  6. lefty665 says:

    What the FBI traditionally has been good at is hurting people that anger it. Disrespect of agent/agency being the most common cause of that anger. Comey wouldn’t want to support anything that restrains FBI’s one true capability, which is exactly what putting the cuffs on out of control cops does. Obama better watch it or they’ll haul him in on a PWB (Presiding while black).
    .
    There’s long been opinion that not much of anybody there could find the bathroom without a paid informant. In Hoover’s day they all had his portrait somewhere in their homes. He preferred it was in the bedroom. Anybody know if that’s still sop under Comey?

  7. dubinsky says:

    Comey’s comment is not to be taken seriously
    much as claims that Michael Brown was an innocent kid shot for no reason are not

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