|U.S. President Barack Obama (right) listens as new Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey speaks during his installation ceremony at the FBI headquarters in Washington on Monday. (AFP-Yonhap News)|
WASHINGTON (AP) ― From his days as a federal prosecutor to his installation ceremony as FBI director, James Comey’s law enforcement career was praised Monday by President Barack Obama as a success story that shows Comey is the right choice to lead the FBI for the next decade.
Three former FBI directors and two former attorneys general were on hand as Comey told more than 3,000 FBI employees and guests gathered in the agency’s courtyard on Pennsylvania Avenue that the FBI must be “independent of all political forces and interests.”
Comey took over last month for Robert Mueller, who stepped down after 12 years as FBI director. Obama says he picked Comey to lead the FBI after interviewing many other candidates for the job.
“He’s got the resume,” but more importantly, a strong sense of right and wrong, the president said.
In remarks emphasizing that the FBI must never abuse its power, Comey said he will direct that all new FBI agents visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington as a reminder of the agency’s excesses of the civil rights era when the FBI treated King and others as internal security threats and spied on them.
The presence at the event of former Attorney General John Ashcroft symbolized a key piece of Comey’s past. In one of the most famous internal battles over the war on terrorism during the George W. Bush administration, Ashcroft and Comey stood together in refusing to sign off on a surveillance program they viewed as illegal.