12 months ago

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


Listen to the 10 min audio

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.

7 hours ago

Are you afraid to answer the phone?

Millions of Americans fear answering their phone due to a plague of billions of robocalls. These calls have made a mockery of the national Do Not Call Registry and touch on several public policy questions.

We had seemingly ended the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. Congress authorized the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 after more than a decade of calls disrupting the peace and quiet of our homes. Fines of $11,000 per violation largely put telemarketing companies, with hundreds of thousands of employees, out of business.

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Why have unwanted calls returned? VOIP technology (voice over internet protocol) allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to make thousands of calls. A handful of responses can make thousands of calls worthwhile when the cost is almost zero. Furthermore, technology makes robocallers mobile and elusive.

By contrast, telemarketing firms employed hundreds of people at call centers. The authorities could find and fine telemarketers. Firms had to comply with the Do Not Call registry, even if forced out of business.

Technology further frustrates the control of robocalls. Spoofing makes a call appear to be from a different number. Spoofing a local number increases the chance of someone answering, defeats caller ID, and makes identifying the calls’ source difficult.

By contrast, technology allowed the elimination of spam email. It’s easy to forget that fifteen years ago spam threatened the viability of email. Email providers connected accounts to IP addresses and eventually identified and blocked spammers. Google estimates that spam is less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users’ emails.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned almost all robocalls in 2009 (political campaigns and schools were excepted). Yet the volume of calls and complaints from the public rise every year. And the “quality” of the solicitations is lower: legitimate businesses employed telemarketers, while most robocalls seem to be scams.

Telephone companies and entrepreneurs are deploying apps and services to block robocalls. The robocallers then respond, producing a technological arms race. The technology of this arms race, however, is beyond me.

I’d rather consider some issues robocalls raise. The root of the problem is some people’s willingness to swindle others. Although we all know there are some bad people in the world, free market economists typically emphasize the costs and consequences of government regulations over the cheats and frauds who create the public’s demand for regulation. People can disagree whether a level of fraud warrants regulation, but free marketers should not dismiss the fear of swindlers.

Robocalls also highlight the enormous inefficiency of theft. Thieves typically get 25 cents on the dollar (or less) when selling stolen goods. Getting $1,000 via theft requires stealing goods worth $4,000 or more. In addition, thieves invest time and effort planning and carrying out crimes, while we invest millions in locks, safes, burglar alarms, and police departments to protect our property. America would be much richer if we did not have to protect against thieves or robocallers.

Finally, having the government declare something illegal does not necessarily solve a problem. Our politicians like to pass a law or regulation and announce, “problem solved.” Identifying and punishing robocallers is difficult; the FTC had only brought 33 cases in nearly ten years. And less than ten percent of the over $300 million in fines and relief for consumers levied against robocallers had been collected. Government has no pixie dust which magically solves hard problems.

The difficulty of enforcing a law or regulation does not necessarily imply we should not act. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, recently approved letting phone companies block unwanted calls by default, and perhaps this will prove effective. We should weigh the costs of laws and regulations against a realistic projection of benefits and laws failing to solve problems as promised should be revised or repealed.
Still, a law that accomplishes little can have value. Cursing robocalls accomplishes little yet can be cathartic. A law that costs little might provide us satisfaction until technology solves the problem.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

8 hours ago

VIDEO: Culverhouse vs. UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Why did the media get the story with Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and Alabama so wrong?

— Is the Iowa slap-fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden a 2020 preview?

— Now that former ALEA head Spencer Collier has settled his case with the state over his firing, is the sordid Bentley saga over?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) to discuss medical marijuana, the prison special session and the lottery.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” that calls out Joe Biden for lying about the lack of lies and scandals in the Obama administration.

VIDEO: Culverhouse/UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

9 hours ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

A ‘Story Worth Sharing’: Yellowhammer News and Serquest partner to award monthly grants to Alabama nonprofits

Christmas is the season of giving, helping others and finding magic moments among seemingly ordinary (and occasionally dreary) days. What better way to welcome this season than to share what Alabamians are doing to help others?

Yellowhammer News and Serquest are partnering to bring you, “A Story Worth Sharing,” a monthly award given to an Alabama based nonprofit actively making an impact through their mission. Each month, the winning organization will receive a $1,000 grant from Serquest and promotion across the Yellowhammer Multimedia platforms.

Yellowhammer and Serquest are looking for nonprofits that go above and beyond to change lives and make a difference in their communities.

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

Get started here with contest guidelines and a link to submit your nomination:

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Nominations are now open and applicants only need to be nominated once. All non-winning nominations will automatically be eligible for selection in subsequent months. Monthly winners will be announced via a feature story that will be shared and promoted on Yellowhammer’s website, email and social media platforms.

Submit your nomination here.

Our organizations look forward to sharing these heartwarming and positive stories with you over the next few months as we highlight the good works of nonprofits throughout our state.

Serquest is an Alabama based software company founded by Hammond Cobb, IV of Montgomery. The organization sees itself as, “Digital road and bridge builders in the nonprofit sector to help people get where they want to go faster, life’s purpose can’t wait.”

Learn more about Serquest here.

10 hours ago

Alabama Power wins Electric Edison Institute awards for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) awarded Alabama Power with the EEI “Emergency Assistance Award” and the  “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael hit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in October 2018.
The Emergency Assistance Award and Emergency Recovery Award are given to EEI member companies to recognize their efforts to assist other electric companies’ power restoration efforts, and for their own extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

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Alabama Power received the awards during the EEI 2019 annual conference.

Alabama Power’s extraordinary efforts were instrumental to restoring service for customers across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida quickly and safely,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “We are pleased to recognize the dedicated crews from Alabama Power for their work to restore service in hazardous conditions and to assist neighboring electric companies in their times of need.”

Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to make landfall during the 2018 hurricane season, was a Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph. The storm hit Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 10 before being downgraded to a tropical storm and traveling northeast through Georgia and several Mid-Atlantic states. Alabama Power sent more than 1,400 lineworkers and 700 trucks to help restore service to customers over the course of two and a half months.

Hurricane Michael also resulted in 89,438 service outages in Alabama Power’s territory. Due to their tireless work, Alabama Power’s crews restored power to 100 percent of customers within four days after the storm, dedicating more than 124-thousand hours to the recovery.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)