Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Here’s To You, Jim Comey

When push came to shove, unlike Alberto Gonzales and just about everyone else connected to the Bush Administration, his loyalty to the Constitution and Rule of Law, came before his loyalty to the President and before his own political ambition.

At a time when public sentiment regarding the integrity of politicians, and the judiciary, in this country is at an all-time low, and the media has been more complicit than constructive, last Tuesday’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by former Deputy United States Attorney General, James Comey was anything but a
“tiresome saga,” as characterized by The Journal News. In fact, for all but the most superficial and cynical observers, Mr. Comey’s revealing account of events little more than three years ago, at the highest levels of Executive power in Washington, was a moment of reassurance that Constitutional guarantees still matter, and that
the ends will not justify the means after all.

If The Journal News finds that message “so tiresome” perhaps it’s because they have long ago abandoned the prime mandate of a Free Press, serving the People’s Right to Know, and have themselves been complicit in their failure over the years to expose the wrongful and unlawful workings of Westchester County Government and the State Courts against the interests of their readers. Of course, what should one expect from a publication whose publisher and president for many years, Gary Sherlock, was a business partner of Al Pirro, spouse of former DA Jeanine Pirro. But, I digress.

I must admit that I was not a Jim Comey fan when he had just come up from a ten-year stint as a United States Attorney in Richmond, Virginia, to assume the same position for the Southern District of New York, perhaps the most prestigious of all jurisdictions. It was 2001, and Pirro was running for re-election as Westchester DA,
despite her husband’s conviction, just months earlier, for 38 felony counts of Federal Income Tax Fraud, in connection with ten years of their joint tax returns. When asked if he would be able to trust and work with her, I felt Comey was too quick to respond affirmatively, in effect negating an otherwise legitimate campaign issue.

Upon reflection I’ve come to realize he wasn’t the only United States Attorney who DA Pirro manipulated, a fact that has now come back to bite her where the sun doesn’t shine.

What is important to appreciate about Yonkers native Jim Comey is the fact that when push came to shove, unlike Alberto Gonzales, and just about everyone else closely connected to the Bush Administration, his loyalty to the Constitution and the Rule of Law came before his loyalty to the President, and before his own political ambition. When put to the kind of test he could never have imagined being put to, Jim Comey did the right thing, standing up against the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping, without proper oversight, and
in violation of fundamental Constitutional guarantees. Despite the prevailing “War On Terror” mentality still clearly ruling the day more than three years ago, Jim Comey had the courage, the conviction of his beliefs, and the rare integrity not to abandon his position, even at great personal risk.

Jim Comey’s courage under fire was rare, and as admirable as that of any defender of our freedom has ever been; a fact that in the months and years that lay ahead we will all, no doubt, come to realize. Here’s to you Jim Comey. May you inspire the same from others who follow your path.

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