James Comey echo of J. Edgar Hoover — amassing power, declaring himself moral authority in FBI


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Read the transcript:

NEW LIGHT ON COMEY’S FBI ACTIONS DURING ELECTION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, it was a week ago that the Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report. On Monday of this week, Michael Horowitz, along with FBI director, Christopher Wray, went before the Senate judiciary committee and, on Tuesday, they both went before the House judiciary committee. What is your take on this report where the key word seems to be “bias”?  

DR. REEDER: I’m trying to look at this from a Christian world and life view. In the current testimony, we have been informed that further reports on the investigation of the previous director of the FBI, James Comey, has yet to be published but what’s already been said is pretty damaging in terms of the FBI, in general, and its director, James Comey, in particular.

WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF FBI?

However, I think I would look at this in a historical perspective first in order to look at it from a Christian world and life view. We need to remember that the FBI was not instituted at the founding of our country — in fact, it would have been unthinkable. It was really in the context of crisis that the FBI was begun at the early part of the 20th century — I think the actual year was 1908 if I’m not mistaken — and it was initiated because of the rising movement of anarchists. It was also because of the entrenchment of organized crime that had begun.

However, it was a great battle to put that in place, the notion of a national police force, and then the iconic leader stepped forward, J. Edgar Hoover. He reigned for decades — which, by the way, is a little bit of an insight from a Christian world and life view — and, throughout those decades, solidified tactics, solidified strategies, solidified power and solidified a lot of information that was used.

And it became documented and published that he not only wiretapped individuals illegally, amassed information with multiple evidences of blackmail. The backdrop of that was some extraordinary police work that he did through the FBI: the breaking of organized crime in the 1930s and the 1940s, the rooting out of anarchists in the middle of the 20th century.

Some extraordinarily brave, courageous, honorable, effective, insightful agents and leaders just litter the pages of our history. I hope and pray that’s not lost because, also, in our current FBI, there are some very honorable, noble, effectively courageous agents that are serving us to maintain order in our society.

AN EGOTISTICAL MAN IN CHARGE CAN TWIST AGENCY’S PURPOSE

James Comey has almost become an echo of J. Edgar Hoover in terms of amassing power, declaring himself — and this is what J. Edgar Hoover did — he declared himself as the moral authority that determined the strategies and tactics and values of the FBI — not the law, but J. Edgar Hoover. And even in the publication of his memoirs that James Comey has been promoting over these past weeks he recently published, what’s clear is he had set himself up as the moral authority in terms of what was right and what was wrong and would knowingly disregard not simply precedents but laws and regulations in order to do what he thought was morally right at the time. What we’re finding out is that his determination of what was morally right was actually illegal.

THERE IS, AT TIMES, RIGHTFUL CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

We’re going to do a program on if there is a time, from a Christian world and life view, where it is right to disobey and disregard a law. Yes, but how do you do that? Not by setting yourself up as a moral authority but appealing to a higher moral authority and the ethical absolutes that the law has violated and, therefore, that law must be disobeyed.

Now what we have are individuals, following the lead of Director Comey, who decided that they were going to become political players in the 2016 election. The 2016 election was an extraordinary election. It is still divisive in our country to this point and this time. What was also very clear is that it was divisive in the FBI as you had certain FBI agents who said, “Let’s just do our job and do it right,” and there were some who decided, “Our job is to make sure that one presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, is to be elected over the other presidential candidate and we are going to use our information to accomplish that.”

The FBI director, himself, began to become a player in the election and, as a player in the election, it wasn’t so much of his loyalty to one party or one candidate over another, but it was the loyalty to himself and what he felt and what he determined was the moral compass of the nation and what needed to be done in light of the investigations that were given to him and his publication of those investigations’ selective information given to the public.

And he became the arbiter, he became the center of it, he determined that this is what needs to be said, when it needs to be said, when it needs to be said from himself as the moral authority to direct the nation. Therefore, he committed acts that were documented as illegal and transgressions of stated law — not just precedents but stated law.

DANGER OF CENTRAL AGENCIES

There are some things in here, Tom, that we cannot miss. The centralization of power is a very dangerous thing. Its argument is always around the principle of efficiency. “You need a centralized authority for efficiency.” And, when you decentralize authority, you get the power to the people and more accountable, but it becomes less effective and more difficult in its implementation.

The FBI exists as a centralized and very powerful authority. Probably the two most powerful instruments we have other than our military is the IRS and the FBI. Both of them, in the recent years, have become politicized and used their centralized power and their extraordinary reach to intimidate and to influence and to direct the affairs of this nation instead of their particular position which is an equitable collection of taxes and also the enforcement.

What’s become abundantly clear is that the FBI had no authority, no right, no precedent and no law to appeal to in terms of its decisions on prosecutions. That is not the job of the FBI that James Comey took upon himself to make those determinations. That is the job of the arm of prosecution in the Department of Justice, whether it’s local, state or federal. That is not his job but he, by his own moral decisions, he felt it was needed in the country and made those decisions himself, and appropriated that power, and overstepped his boundary and moved the FBI out from under the Department of Justice as an investigative agent to taking the place of the Department of Justice in the area of prosecution and publication of information.

THIS IS NOT JUST A GOVERNMENT ISSUE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, it is interesting, whether it’s Satan’s rebellion, whether it’s an individual wanting to commit a personal sin or whether it’s an FBI director, it’s, “I want to be in charge and I’m going to throw off any accountability.”

DR. REEDER: And that’s why this accountability and self-investigation must always be a part of governing authority structures from a Christian world and life view — accountability — and I would remind all of us that there is an ultimate accountability. We will give an account of every action and every word.

“It is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgment.” And we either stand at that judgment naked under all of the weight of our sins in word and deed and thought or we stand in that judgment clothed with the righteousness of Christ having confessed that we are sinners and put our trust in the one who took our place under judgment on the cross for our judgment so that we could have not only forgiveness in eternal life, but the presence of the Spirit of God for a changed life.

And a life that has been changed by the grace of God is a life that is always seeking the investigation of the Spirit of God and self-examination and other examination. “Examine yourself,” Paul said, “to see if you be of the faith.” Investigation is certainly a part of the Christian world and life view and fleeing to Christ because of our inadequacies as we find ourselves guilty of sinners is the call of God’s grace and the provision of His grace for everlasting life.

COMING UP FRIDAY: IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT CREATING TURMOIL IN NATION

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, on Friday’s edition of Today in Perspective, immigration is back on the front page and there’s something of a controversy concerning the separation of children from their families.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, this is a very difficult subject. I’m almost hesitant to take it on with you, but I know so many people are asking the questions. I think there are some answers but some of the challenges of this really need to be thought through so let’s do that tomorrow, Tom.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

2 hours ago

Mobile native Hank Aaron, the greatest ever to play baseball, passes away

Native Alabamian Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron, widely regarded as one of history’s best ever baseball players, passed away on Friday at the age of 86.

Born and raised in Mobile, Aaron spent most of his childhood in Toulminville. Growing up in a poor family in the segregated South, his family could not afford baseball equipment, so Aaron practiced the game he loved by hitting bottle caps with sticks. He would also create his own bats and balls out of materials he found on the streets.

As a teenager, he started rising through the ranks as a member of the Mobile Black Bears, a semipro team at the time in the Negro Leagues. At age 20, he made his Major League Baseball debut with the then-Milwaukee Braves.

Over the course of his 23-year MLB career, Aaron became a giant across the country. He would end his legendary playing days as the all-time leader in home runs, RBIs, total bases reached and extra-base hits. He won a World Series in 1957 with the Braves and was the NL MVP that season.

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Among a litany of honors, Aaron was selected to an All-Star team 25 times, which is the most by any player in MLB history. His No. 44 is retired by the Milwaukee Brewers and the Atlanta Braves. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown in 1982 on the first ballot and the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1980.

Aaron spent much of his post-playing career in Atlanta as an executive with the Braves. He made the city his own for decades, and passed away in his home there on Friday morning, according to Georgia’s CBS 46.

Governor Kay Ivey mourned Aaron’s death in a tweet.

Hank Aaron Stadium immortalizes the late, native Mobilian in his hometown. This is the former home of the semipro team now known as the Rocket City Trash Pandas, when the team was the Mobile Bay Bears.

UPDATE 11:10 a.m.

Ivey has ordered flags in Alabama be flown at half-staff immediately to honor Aaron. Flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday.

Congressman Jerry Carl (AL-01), who represents Mobile in the U.S. House of Representatives, released a statement.

“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Hank Aaron’s passing,” said Carl. “A Mobile native, ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ was a baseball legend respected not only for his performance on the field, but also for his personal integrity and character. Hank Aaron never let his humble upbringing and lack of access to baseball equipment as a young boy hamper his growth or dedication to the game. Throughout his storied career, he would ultimately smash multiple baseball hall of fame records, most notably shattering Babe Ruth’s home run record by hitting 755 home runs. I’m proud to call him a fellow Mobilian, and I know his family and friends take comfort knowing his memory lives on in the lives of so many. My prayers are with the family and friends of Hank Aaron today.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Gen. Lloyd Austin confirmed as secretary of Defense with Shelby’s, Tuberville’s support

U.S. Army General Lloyd J. Austin (Ret.) on Friday was confirmed in a bipartisan 93-2 vote by the United States Senate as the next secretary of the Department of Defense.

Austin, who is a native of Mobile and currently serves on the Auburn University board of trustees, becomes the first black defense secretary in American history. He was nominated by President Joe Biden for the post.

U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) voted to support Austin’s confirmation.

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Tuberville said in a statement, “Retired General Lloyd Austin is a son of the great state of Alabama – born in Mobile and an Auburn University alumnus and Trustee – who understands the critical role our state’s five military bases play in supporting America’s armed forces. General Austin’s decades of service make him well-positioned to lead the Department of Defense and confront the threats facing our country. I look forward to working with him for the benefit of Alabamians, Americans, and all of our men and women in uniform to advance the safety and security of our great nation.”

The Senate vote came after both chambers of Congress the prior day granted him a waiver to the law requiring that the secretary of Defense either be a civilian or someone who has been retired from the military for seven or more years.

After a nearly 41-year decorated military career, Austin retired in 2016 as a four-star general. Some of his former posts include service as the commander of U.S. Central Command, commander of the Combined Forces in Iraq and Syria, and as the 33rd vice chief of staff of the Army.

Austin is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds master’s degrees from Auburn and Webster University. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Auburn, and his wife, Charlene, is also an Auburn graduate.

Additionally, the retired general currently serves on the board of directors for Raytheon Technologies and Nucor, both of which have significant Alabama presences.

UPDATE 11:30 a.m.

In a tweet, Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03), who represents Auburn in the U.S. House of Representatives, applauded the confirmation. Rogers is ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“Congratulations to General Austin on his historic confirmation. I appreciate his longstanding commitment to our military, and I look forward to working with him to provide our men and women in uniform all the resources they need to successfully defend our nation,” said Rogers.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Two Alabama Democrats file lawsuit, claim Doug Jones tried to ‘give control of the Alabama Democratic Party to Whites’

Two members of the Alabama Democratic Conference have filed a lawsuit against Tom Perez, the national Democratic Party’s former chair. They claim he and former Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) attempted to “give control of the Alabama Democratic Party to Whites.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Randy Kelley and Janet May. Both are affiliates of the Alabama Democratic Conference, a group that describes itself as the “Black Political Caucus of Alabama” and operates independently of the official state Democratic Party.

The case stems from a years-long dispute over Democratic leadership in Alabama.

Barry Ragsdale, an attorney who was has supported the Perez-aligned faction of Alabama Democrats that now controls the party, attacked the validity of the lawsuit.

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“The Plaintiffs are just sore losers, who can’t accept their defeat and who now recklessly scream ‘racism’ because they know that neither the law or the facts support their legal claims,” Ragsdale said in a statement to Alabama Media Group.

The lawsuit is the latest action in an extended legal imbroglio that began in 2018.

Then-Senator Doug Jones, unhappy with a state Democratic party infrastructure that he felt was ineffective, attempted to install a personal friend and ally as chair of the state party during a party meeting.

That effort failed, and Nancy Worley was reelected to the position of state chair with the backing of the Alabama Democratic Conference and its longtime leader Joe Reed.

However, a group of Alabama Democrats asserted there were irregularities in how the party’s internal election was conducted.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) examined the allegations of improper conduct and found them to be valid, ultimately ordering the state party to conduct new elections.

After much intraparty fighting, which led to an extended court battle, State Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) emerged as the party chairman.

England, who is the state party’s first black chairperson, had the backing of Jones and the DNC.

Worley ultimately stopped pursuing her claim to be party chair in the spring of 2020 after a state judge dismissed a last-ditch suit.

The new England-led regime at the Alabama Democratic Party passed new bylaws that govern the state party and set out how the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) is elected.

Those changes, backed by England, Jones, Perez and the DNC, are the subject of Kelley and May’s lawsuit filed in recent days.

The suit names Perez, England and the SDEC as defendants.

Kelley and May say the changes do not comply with a 1991 federal court order that required black members of the party receive proportional representation on the executive committee to their share of Democratic votes cast.

“After Blacks became a majority of the SDEC, the governing body, Perez joined with Senator Doug Jones and others to weaken Black’ influence and give the control of the Alabama Democratic Party to Whites,” Kelley said in a release posted publicly by the Alabama Democratic Conference.

The new bylaws do change the method of ensuring a proportional amount of black members are on the executive committee. Similar to the previous arrangement, black individuals are added as at large members to ensure proper representation numbers.

However, in the new bylaws, the executive committee as a whole selects the at large members instead of leaving the selection of the at large members to the minority caucus.

Joe Reed and the Democratic Conference leadership had control over the equivalent of the minority caucus in the version of the party that existed before 2019. They regularly used the ability to select members as a tool to assert influence over the state party.

The Alabama Democratic Conference said in its statement that it believes the 2019 changes to how the executive committee is composed amount to “undermining, diluting, and discriminating against Black Democrats.”

Ragsdale pushed back on the assertions by Kelley, May and the Democratic Conference, telling Alabama Media Group that the plaintiffs “can’t accept that their side lost after an open and fair election.”

Ragsdale continued, “At its core, this most recent lawsuit is anti-democratic and an attack on the values of inclusion and diversity that guide the Democratic Party.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

Alabama’s unemployment rate dips to 3.9%, lowest point of pandemic

The Alabama Department of Labor on Friday announced that the state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted December unemployment rate was 3.9%, the lowest mark since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The latest figure came in the final full month of President Donald J. Trump’s administration and was down from November’s rate of 4.4%. December’s rate represented 87,534 unemployed Alabamians, compared to 100,374 the previous month.

While the latest rate is much improved from April’s bleak 13.4%. it is also still above December 2019’s rate of 2.7%, showing significant work is needed to get back to year-over-year parity.

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Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington said in a statement, “This is the lowest unemployment rate Alabama has seen since the pandemic began, and I’m glad to see us close out 2020 on a good note.”

“While we are pleased to see our rate continue to drop, we know there is still a lot more work to be done,” he continued. “More than 26,000 Alabamians are unemployed now than at the same time last year. We are still down more than 34,000 jobs from last year. Our work in 2021 will be focused on continuing this recovery.”

Wage and salary employment grew in December by 6,200. According to a release, monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+7,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (+3,000), and the education and health services sector (+1,100), for example. Over the year, the biggest losses in wage and salary employment came in the leisure and hospitality sector (-19,400), the education and health services sector (-16,400), and the government sector (-9,700), among others.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in December were: Cullman County at 2.1%; Shelby, Marshall and Franklin Counties at 2.2%; and DeKalb and Cleburne Counties at 2.3%.

Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 10.6%, Lowndes County at 10.2% and Perry County at 7.8%.

Meanwhile, major cities with the lowest unemployment rates were: Homewood and Vestavia Hills at 1.7%; Alabaster at 2.0%; and Madison at 2.1%. Major cities with the highest unemployment rates were: Prichard at 11%; Selma at 9.0%; and Bessemer and Anniston at 7.0%.

(Click for high-quality image)

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

7 Things: Biden and Ivey keep masks on, cautious start for coming legislative session, Alabama Dems must want Mo Brooks to be a senator and more …

7. Biden’s plan for vaccinations is already on pace

  • For as much as the incoming Biden administration proclaimed the previous administration was a disaster on the coronavirus, you would think that they would set goals that far outpace the criticized output for vaccine rollout, but this is not the case. Vaccine delivery is already on pace for 100 million vaccines in 100 days.
  • Despite this fact, which angered President Joe Biden, some in the Biden administration claim that the administration is starting their distribution program from scratch. Dr. Anthony Fauci denies this.

6. Just stop with impeachment

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  • As if the nation hasn’t suffered enough from phony and politically-motivated impeachments, freshman U.S. Representative  Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has already filed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden over his interactions with Ukraine. This is going nowhere.
  • Greene said, “President Joe Biden is unfit to hold the office of the Presidency. His pattern of abuse of power as President Obama’s Vice President is lengthy and disturbing.” She cited Biden’s threat to withhold a loan to Ukraine unless a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden as part of the younger Biden’s scheme  “to siphon off cash from America’s greatest enemies Russia and China” using his dad as leverage, was fired.

5. Keystone Pipeline shutdown wipes out up to 11,000 jobs 

  • In a move that made American liberals and foreign governments very happy, President Joe Biden decided that the previously-approved Keystone Pipeline should be stopped mid-construction. 
  • Biden’s campaign slogan was “Build Back Better,” but the cancellation of the 1,700-mile pipeline stops 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf Coast. This is a costly decision because it ends around 11,000 American jobs that would have generated $1.6 billion in wages.

4. Alabama Democrats hammer Mo Brooks

  • Coming off his controversial speech that took place six hours before the U.S. Capitol riots, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has drawn fire from the Alabama Democratic Party and former U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith (D-Huntsville).
  • The Alabama Democratic Party is selling “No Mo Bullshit” merchandise to raise money from their email list, and Griffth recorded a YouTube video with 23 views, as of this writing, saying that Brooks should resign. He stated, “He chose to support domestic terrorism over the Constitution and has showed no remorse for his actions. Mo Brooks has become dangerous to democracy. He has disgraced and embarrassed the state of Alabama. Mo Brooks must face the consequences of his actions.  Congress must act now to expel him.”

3. Two-week pause after the beginning of the legislative session

  • The legislative session for the Alabama Legislature will begin on February 2, and now House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) has said that they will take a break after the first two weeks to assess the coronavirus pandemic situation and how it’s impacting work.
  • This will also be done to make sure that there isn’t an outbreak of cases, and it’ll be time to figure out which legislation needs to be prioritized. It appears that discussions surrounding re-upping economic incentives, coronavirus liability immunity for responsible businesses and gambling matters are all on the table, along with the normal business of passing operating budgets.

2. Biden: Take a mask with you to travel (like you already were)

  • President Joe Biden is planning to require people to wear masks when they travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, a vast majority of people are already doing this as airlines require it.
  • Biden is also looking to increase vaccine supply and testing for the coronavirus. The White House official directing the national response to the pandemic, Jeff Zients, said, “We need to ask average Americans to do their part.”

1. 15 more days to stop the spread for 6 more weeks

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that the statewide mask mandate will be in effect until at least March 5 at 5:00 p.m. There were no other major changes to the statewide emergency health order. Ivey said that the masks remain “the one step that we can all take in order to keep some balance in our daily lives, and stay healthy and safe.”
  • One change in the order was allowing more flexibility in recruiting poll workers for upcoming elections across the state. Although, in her statements, Ivey focused on the high number of hospitalizations the state has seen. She said that “of the 1,600 ICU beds in our state, 1,561 were occupied” last week.