Civil liberties groups criticize Comey, but colleagues praise him

by Jerry Markon and Sari Horwitz, Washington Times  |  published on June 2, 2013

The pending nomination of James B. Comey to be FBI director began on Thursday to reopen old debates over George W. Bush-era national security policies. And despite Comey’s well-publicized role in challenging some of the controversial practices, he has come under attack from civil liberties advocates.

One day after President Obama’s plan to nominate the former senior Justice Department official to run the FBI became public, the American Civil Liberties Union became the second civil liberties group to raise questions about Comey’s involvement in the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism tactics, such as warantless surveillance and tough interrogations.

Comey “approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration,’’ the ACLU said in a statement that accused Comey of signing off on “enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding.’’

Obama has strongly opposed such tactics, and the spectacle of his nominee reviving that debate added a twist to the coming confirmation process to replace Robert S. Mueller III as FBI director. Mueller has served 12 years in the post; the term is limited by law to 10 years, but Congress in 2011 approved Obama’s request to extend it two years.

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