December 23, 2019
WASHINGTON DC – Retired FBI agent/member TOM BAKER writes OPED for the WASHINGTON EXAMINER. Speaking about the FOREIGN SURVEILLANCE COURT [FISC] and the CARTER PAGE wiretap, BAKER asks, “Is JAMES COMEY the worst FBI director in modern history?” He maintains the FISA justification was faulty … calling it an “abuse” of the FBI’s statutory powers.
Using second hand information as FISA justification to open an investigation is “real abuse,” he says. Relying, in part, on rumor, as FISA justification should never be allowed. He states COMEY should have commanded agents to get better predication.
Criticizing Attorney General [AG] WILLIAM BARR for examining FISA justification is misplaced he adds. Had COMEY been more circumspect about the FISA justification, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department would be in the mess the agencies find themselves in today. It was COMEY who signed off on the FISA justification telling FISC the FBI had predication to wiretap CARTER PAGE’s phone. BAKER thinks the faulty FISA justification is probably the single-most damaging decision made by Justice Department officials in the history of the FBI.
DAILY CALLER – Opinion
December 23, 2019
By Thomas J. Baker
December 23, 2019 12:05 pm ET
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham recently declared that “James Comey has done more damage to the FBI than anyone since J. Edgar Hoover.” This might be an understatement: Hoover had a full half-century to accumulate the string of abuses that tarnish his legacy, but Comey managed to do his damage in just a few short years as FBI director.
He’s now finally being forced to defend his record. In Comey’s self-serving reaction to the harsh critique offered by the recent inspector general report, he again describes the sole origin of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign as being former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos’s conversations in London about Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He piously huffs that it would have been “dereliction” not to proceed with a counterintelligence investigation based on that information. But to proceed with such an intrusive investigation on so little was the real abuse.
One conversation, relating a secondhand rumor, should never be enough to justify opening a counterintelligence investigation of any American, much less a presidential candidate. That is the concern held by many of us who served in and loved the FBI. Like directors before him, Comey should have said, “We need more.”
But Comey tries to deflect from that concern by saying that this all happened “seven levels below” him. In this instance, that is simply not true.
It was Comey himself who signed three of the four applications for FISA coverage on Carter Page. And it was he alone who set the tone through his actions, such as not briefing Congress on such an important investigation. Comey now chooses to use the inspector general’s findings to attack a few critics who called the bureau treasonous or corrupt. Yes, the FBI is neither. But under Comey, it was certainly poorly led.
Naming Attorney General William Barr, Comey attacks those who legitimately question the FISA justification, as well as the initial opening of the case. Comey lately seems particularly indignant that the attorney general is continuing an investigation into the origins of both. Comey expresses surprise that an attorney general would criticize the Department of Justice or the FBI, two institutions which are the attorney general’s responsibility. Yet, perhaps if Comey’s management style had been a bit more hands-on and critical, the FBI would not be in this mess in the first place.
Comey also piously expresses outrage at the verbiage of the president of the United States. But President Trump should not be the main concern here. Our main concern should be the lack of any substantial predicate in opening a counterintelligence investigation of an American — much less a presidential campaign.
When Comey served as FBI director, he led the investigation of one or more American citizens without sufficient predicate. The semantics of spying, treason, and corruption that Comey chooses to distract us with are not the real issue at hand. The lack of justification for initiating the investigation is what truly matters.
Comey’s indignant complaints about Trump and Barr are merely an effort to distract us from a legitimate investigation into the dangerous and faulty decisions made on his watch. History will judge who the worst FBI director was, but surely Comey’s initiation of the counterintelligence investigation was the single-most damaging decision in the history of the FBI.
Tom Baker spent 33 years serving in the FBI and is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog.Mr. Baker is a retired FBI special agent and former legal attaché.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After almost 33-years’ service with the Bureau, in 1999, member THOMAS J BAKER “retired” from the FBI while stationed overseas as the FBI’s Legal Attaché in Paris, France. Appointed a Special Agent in 1967, his career included tours of duty, as a police instructor at the FBI’s Academy in Quantico, Virginia and, in 1981, as the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge [ASAC] at the FBI’s Washington Field Office [WFO], he set up the Command Post [CP] investigating JOHN HINCKLEY’s assassination attempt of President RONALD REAGAN. Assigned to the Office of Public Affairs for almost five -years, in 1987, he transferred to the U.S. Embassy, in Ottawa, Canada, and in 1990, was made Legal Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, where he handle Bureau and the Justice Department matters “not” only on the Australian continent, but a number of Pacific island nations as well. In 1994, he was transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, also as the FBI’s Legal Attaché, that also included managing the Bureau interests’ in Algeria and much of Africa.
For more information about Mr. BAKER, his profile can be seen here at: https://fbiretired.com/agent/thomas-baker/
You can also follow Mr. BAKER on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomas-j-baker-413b577/
And on Twitter @bakeassociates