When it comes to reporting on former FBI Director James Comey, the mass media simply cannot hold their ink.
We are told by CNN the Russians are happier than a buzzard on a gut truck about the political turmoil the firing generated, and that the White House´s conflicting stories about Trump´s motive all point to Comey´s investigation of the Trump campaign ties with Russia.
The BBC says the problem started with a demand by Trump that Comey pledge loyalty to him. Comey replied he would supply honesty, not loyalty. The White House denies the story.
The New York Times reported that Trump insinuated he taped his conversations with Comey, and that Comey had better not leak things to the media.
Round and round it goes.
For a summary of the events leading up to the firing, click here
Comey and Trump-haters clearly want us to believe the ax fell because Comey was doing his job and investigating the Trump campaign-Russia connection. It´s a "dangerous moment," we are informed. Comey is portrayed, mostly by default, as a faithful, dedicated public servant, a solid professional; in fact absolutely and totally selfless, tireless, squeaky clean. A true All-American, a wonderful man -- it´s so terrible what happened to him.
We have a different interpretation.
* * *
This blog first cut across Comey´s trail in September 2014. At issue was the worldwide search underway to identify Jihadi John, the masked, mollusk-eyed ISIS terrorist who was beheading Westerners.
Comey stepped into the lights of TV cameras worldwide and boldly went where no man had gone before.
"I believe that we have identified him," he declared, "I´m not going to tell you who I believe it is."
This blog immediately jumped on Comey with both feet. Why?
Our ensuing post, "The ISIS Crisis: Abraham Lincoln´s Solution," explained:
"Comey is playing the same old tired but true game of seasoned bureaucrats everywhere: in a situation of ambiguity, he who is in a POSITION to know has the power ...
Comey refuses to identify Jihadi John because to do so would end the ambiguity swirling around him and hence diminish Comey´s power. For the same reason, Comey does not confirm or deny any of the contradictory media reports about Jihadi John. Comey sits back and lets them rage because they fuel the uncertainty he seeks -- indeed, secretly nourishes.
Here is what is so tragic about Comey´s concentration on his own bureau-pathic self-interest:
In the 1960´s, body counts in the Vietnam War were published almost daily. Accurate? Inflated? Underestimated? How high is high? How low is low? Through it all, one thing was perfectly clear: the meaning of the counts was perfectly unclear. As president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson was in the POSITION to know the truth and clear things up. He never did so; instead, he let ambiguity reign, thereby enhancing his power.
What the clever fellow generated while looking out for Number One was a crisis in public confidence -- and America´s defeat in Vietnam. "
There were other reasons -- urgent ones -- why we came out swinging; we will identify them shortly.
Our subsequent post on November 28, "Peter Kassig and Beyond: New Perspectives" continued the attack on Comey for not publicly identifying Jihadi John.
It was apparent that the British Secret Service had been intimidated by Washington and would not pursue seriously the identification of one of its own citizens, which, of course, it should have done. We therefore challenged British journalist students to take matters into their own hands.
Identifying Jihadi John, we said, was an easy matter; we published a procedure that would have unmasked him in less than a week. No journalist class took up the challenge, which incidentally would have been a worldwide scoop, thus condemning their graduates currently receiving minimum wage to descale boilers in Sheffield to think of what coulda/woulda/shoulda been.
Our post of December 13, "(2) Peter Kassig and Beyond: New Perspectives," kept the heat on.
We quoted from the British press:
"Last month [September 25] the FBI confirmed they knew Jihadi John’s true identity but details have deliberately not been made public while intelligence officers continue to monitor the movements and electronic communication of his alleged helpers."
We observed: "You just saw the FBI´s explanation of why it has not revealed Jihadi John´s identity: it does not want to alert his accomplices whom it wants to monitor."
The FBI explanation was something right out of the Keystone Cops.
Our post gave three reasons why Jihadi John´s accomplices were already alerted. The key one, we argued, came from ... the FBI:
"The FBI´s announcement that it knew Jihadi John´s identity but would not reveal it was... the most guaranteed way possible to spook his fellow terrorists. FBI, if you truly didn´t want to warn them, what you would have said was simply this: ´We still have no idea who Jihadi John is.´ To create credibility for your statement and to add a distraction, you would tack on an additional sentence such as: ´In fact, we are beginning to suspect he may not even be from the U.K., that his accent was faked.´ Jihadi John´s terrorist accomplices would have heaved a huge sigh of relief and gone their usual way, all of it of course monitored by you...
We have said it before; we will say it again. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agents are not strategic thinkers. As our prior post showed, when it comes to terrorism, they literally and figuratively have no idea what they are talking about. Corollary: when it comes to individual terrorists, U.S. government personnel don´t have the foggiest idea whom they are dealing with. Those upshots were inevitable because Washington has no analysis."
Our December 13th post is loaded with other concrete examples of Washington stumble-bumming in the handling of the Jihadi John affair.
Our post of December 29 ("(3) New Perspectives") kept up the campaign to identify Jihadi John. We made a key observation which anybody who understands terrorists and terrorist organizations -- or who simply understands public personas in general -- understands perfectly well.
We started by noting that many people
"think Jihadi John, the terrorist headmaster in ISIS decapitation videos of Westerners, is a CIA stooge. According to this line of thought, if he is not directly on Washington´s payroll he is indirectly so, i.e., not knowing a terrorist when they have one two feet in front of them, the CIA and the Pentagon naively funded and equipped ISIS to combat the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
Today, a few years later, everybody knows about ISIS. What had been latent is now manifest. Even in the changed circumstance, however, Jihadi John provides a vital service to America. As did Osama bin Laden before him, Jihadi John is the iconic terrorist who ignites Western hatred and legitimizes American military presence in the Middle East. The clarion call goes out from the American press and populace: Get him! God damn it -- GET HIM!!!
And so, as a useful dupe, if Jihadi John is not directly financed by Washington, he is at least left alone to tease and torment. In either case, the last thing Washington wants is to GET HIM!!!
We think there is significant, indirect merit in the position that Washington is aiding and abetting Jihadi John -- indirect in that its meaning is not literal but figurative. As figurative as Jihadi John himself.
Our last post denounced the FBI´s current policy, i.e., the agency says it knows who Jihadi John is but refuses to publicly name him. Assuming the FBI is not lying, in terms of strategy and tactics the FBI´s position is complete nonsense. To tear off Jihadi John´s mask would instantly strip him of his mystique. He would become what he was before he joined ISIS: Wally or Billy, son of the saccharine couple two doors down -- the boy the other boys used to beat up in the bathroom between classes.
On the other hand, if you need somebody to hate ... I will add parenthetically that if you need somebody to hate, you had better figure out why you need him; you are in dire trouble."
Wally or Billy; saccharine son: I hate to say it, but we told you so. Keep your eyes on the prize, dear reader: we´re coming to the close of how Comey botched the Jihadi John affair.
Our post of February 25, 2016, "Jihadi John: The Seal Is Broken," noted that on February 15, the Washington Post published an article identifying Jihadi John as Mohammed Emwazi, a mild-mannered computer programer:
"By every single account, Jihadi John is from the socioeconomic middle class. For regular readers of this blog and The Source of Terrorism, that finding is as fundamental as it is old hat. Indeed, it is now threatening to become trivial, hence overlooked before it had the opportunity to be analyzed and understood."
Our post explains why the Washington Post "scoop" -- said to be the product of hard work, pounding the pavement, ad nausea -- was nothing of the sort. The FBI handed the Post Jihadi John´s identity in return for past services rendered.
Our post explained something else: why we had done what we did:
"Our purpose was not to humiliate the FBI but to challenge them. I mention humiliation because it was indeed an issue: with every passing day, the FBI and other anti-ISIS forces were losing credibility; to the contrary, Jihadi John was gaining in stature. Urgency was in the air; lives were at stake -- that is why we badgered, pestered, defied, needled, prodded and goaded the FBI to change course and do literally the unthinkable: break the omertà, the seal of silence.
What was happening was straightforward:
(i) By wearing a mask, Jihadi John was keeping his identity secret.
(ii) The FBI was keeping Jihadi John´s identity secret.
(iii) By guarding the seal of silence, the FBI was playing Jihadi John´s game."
We come to the proverbial punch line:
Why didn´t Comey at the outset on September 25, 2014, instead of saying he knew Jihadi John´s identity but wouldn´t reveal it, act like a true professional and simply release a statement: "The FBI never comments on what may or may not be on-going investigations"?
The answer is, to do so would have deprived Comey of his five minutes of fame. He needed them for a reason I fear will come to light soon enough.
James Comey has his sights set on elected office, probably the U.S. Senate.
* * *
The world saw Comey continue the same self-absorbed, destructive behavior during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Given his aspirations to higher office, again and again Comey felt compelled to grandstand. He could not simply say "no comment" on the on-again-off-again investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails. Later, exactly the same pattern held for his investigation of Trump campaign-Russia ties.
Time and again, he missed a wonderful opportunity to shut up.
Our post of September 13, 2016, "A Psychological and Physical Profile of Hillary Clinton," read the tea-leaves correctly. It was easy to predict what would happen once you recognize Comey´s ulterior political motive.
"FBI Director James Comey, long on C.Y.A. and short on psychology, piled on [Hillary] as judge, critic, cop.
His year-long investigation of Hillary´s emails ended a few weeks before the Democratic Party Convention. As expected, C.Y.A. was Comey´s lead-off item; he recommended against indicting Hillary.
Let´s move to his conclusions -- make that, judgments. Hillary was extremely careless...should have known...generally lacking.
It goes without saying that such criticisms are completely out of place for an investigative report on whether or not to pursue a criminal indictment. Why, then, did Comey make them?
The clever man no doubt thought he was covering both ends. The more plausible outcome is, he will fall through the cracks. A President Clinton will fire Comey for calling her careless and ignorant. A President Trump will do likewise because of Comey´s recommendation against indicting Hillary."
What it all comes down to:
Today, James Comey is positioning himself to be the leader of the national opposition to Trump. He will have to fight Hillary for the mantle.
Neither are fit to wear it.
Both are subsumed in bureau-pathic thinking and behavior. It is time for James Comey and Hillary Clinton to step aside and give new people the chance to do better.
I will conclude this post with another prediction.
If either Comey or Hillary succeeds -- primarily due to inertia and naivety on the part of the Democratic Party -- at gaining national prominence as the leader of the Trump opposition, look for an eight-year Trump White House.
Comey-ing and going, a bad deal all around.
UPDATE of May 24. You who so ardently wish right now that Comey will save the republic and run for president might want to consider a note in our post of January 10, 2017 "Why Hillary Lost":
"In place of strategy and tactics, Comey throws everything on the wall and hopes something sticks. Pure random odds will make him right some of the time. That is how ignorance passes for intelligence."
Right now, Comey believes he has found something that sticks. Along with the mass media, he is milking the Russian-firing connection for every drop he can squeeze out.
Trump is not the person the nation needs in the White House. Neither is James Comey.
UPDATE of June 8. I watched Comey´s Senate performance. It was an anti-climax without a climax preceding it. I stand by what was said above. The firing of James Comey was the direct result of C.Y.A.: "A President Clinton will fire Comey for calling her careless and ignorant. A President Trump will do likewise because of Comey´s recommendation against indicting Hillary."
Some people are so smart, they´re stupid.