By Phil Edmonston
FBI DIRECTOR James Comey knows better. When an investigation is opened, the FBI must shut up and either indict or drop the probe.
That´s been the protocol since J. Edgar Hoover illegally wiretapped Martin Luther King´s philandering and played the tapes to the amusement of the Kennedys and Hoover´s male cronies.
This was followed by an anonymous FBI letter sent to King suggesting he should commit suicide rather than accept the Nobel peace prize.
I am in favor of government transparency, but not when it collides with basic human rights, or interferes with an election, a violation of the 1938 Hatch Act.
The public announcement of the dropping of the Hillary Clinton emails probe should have been left to the Department of Justice and accompanied by a ´no comment´, rather than Comey´s lengthy obiter dictum.
As for the Anthony Weiner computer files, Comey had no mandate to disclose the launching of that investigation or to qualify the files as ´pertinent´ to Clinton but not necessarily ´significant´.
FBI and government rules forbid Comey´s showboating described above.
It creates a trial by innuendo and can weaken a prosecution via the intimidation of witnesses, destruction of documents, or the disappearance of the defendant.
More generically, in A Man for All Seasons, Sir Thomas More responds to the argument that government lawbreaking can be justified for the greater good. More countered: “And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you—where would you hide, the laws all being flat?
Who Can You Trust?
Not politicians, not the FBI, and not even the RCMP.
I´ve never mentioned this before, but when I ran for Parliament in 1988, my staff discovered that the Conservative incumbent had accepted bribes and was influence peddling.
I turned the information over to the RCMP, campaigned on national issues and lost.
After that election, I was asked by my campaign volunteers to call a press conference to put pressure on the Mounties.
I refused on the grounds that the RCMP were the most capable to judge the validity of our evidence, and if the bribes couldn´t be proven, we would have ruined a man´s reputation for political gain.
I didn´t know that Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had asked the RCMP to delay the search warrant execution during the previous election. Not on a question of principle, but to save his House Conservative majority.
In effect, the RCMP and Mulroney had ´rigged´ the election.
After the election, with the Prime Minister´s House majority assured, my opponent resigned, was arrested by the RCMP, sent to jail, and fined $25,000.
I was elected in the ensuing by-election with almost 70% of the vote. This confirmed that my decision to put principle over politics was the right one.
However, had I known the Prime Minister was ´fixing´ the investigation and election with the complicity of the RCMP, I would have put the Mounties feet to the fire and demanded full disclosure.
Prediction: Within a few months, no matter who is elected, James Comey will be gone. Ostensibly—´for the good of the Bureau.´
Phil Edmonston is Chair of Democrats Abroad, Panama