FBI

FBI's James Comey Calls Wikileaks "Intelligence Porn," Dares To Define Journalism

The government's top domestic spook says that transparency is a bad, bad thing.

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FBI, public domain

FBI Director James Comey is talking with the Senate Judiciary Committee about his bureau's investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Among the highlights? Comey's indignant attacks on Edward Snowden and Wikileaks:

Comey differentiated between WikiLeaks, an "important focus" of investigations, and legitimate news sources.

"It crosses a line when it moves from being about educating a public intelligence porn, just pushing out information…just to damage the United States," later adding, "There's nothing that even smells journalist about some of this content."

Comey said the focus of investigations would almost always fall on leakers during legitimate investigations.

Comey's comments on Wikileaks call to mind CIA head Mike Pompeo's attacks on the organization just a couple of weeks ago. "We can no longer allow [Julian] Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us," Pompeo declared in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now."

Let's be clear: No official should be in the business of defining journalism (and thus implicitly sanctioning government action against whistleblowers and other leakers). But it's especially hilarious when the head of the FBI, an agency that has a long history of patently illegal and typically ineffective subterfuge, gets on his high horse about what's legit media and what's not. In a four-year stretch, for instance, the FBI authorized criminal activity by confidential informants over 22,000 times. It's especially dark, too, when the FBI director is serving a president who has gone above and beyond in singling out specific individuals (such as Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post), calling for the "loosening" of libel laws regarding public figures and elected officials, and generally declaring war on the press. That Donald Trump is publicly at odds with Comey over the latter's refusal to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton only makes the spectacle even more bizarre.

Obviously, it's too much to ask U.S. officials to embrace Wikileaks and other sources that reveal the inner workings of the government, but there's no question that Wikileaks has forced transparency in ways that have greatly benefited the public.

Here's the livestream of the Senate's questioning of Comey:

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  1. Some of the leaks really do get the blood flowing.

      1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do…,. http://www.careerstoday100.com

      2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do…,.,.,.,., http://www.careerstoday100.com

      3. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do…,.,.,.,., http://www.careerstoday100.com

      4. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do,.,.,.,.,… http://www.careerstoday100.com

  2. It crosses a line when it moves from being about trying to educate a public, and instead just becomes about intelligence porn…

    Hey, porn educated a young me in many important and meaningful ways.

    1. Me too. I’m hoping to use my classroom education for real one day.

  3. I certainly agree with Nick on the focus of this article.

    However, Trump’s “war on the press” is a laugh. Because he called out CNN? What makes them privileged? One can make a legitimate argument over whether or not loosening of libel laws (I would be against it) is a bad thing.
    But, just because he criticizes certain press outlets (or individuals who work for those outlets) is hardly a war against the press.
    He hasn’t proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. He certainly hasn’t been a puritan goon in terms of porn or anything either.
    And the fact is that most of the “mainstream” media is biased. So a presidential candidate who states that is hardly calling for the Gestapo to crack down.

    1. I don’t understand how you don’t see this?

      President Obama wiretaps AP= No war on the media. Trump makes fun of CNN and Washington Post= THREAT TO FIRST AMENDMENT.

      Democrats vote to eliminate Citizens United Ruling= totes cool. Trump talks about expanding libel laws= THREAT TO FIRST AMENDMENT

      1. I agree with Waka’s assessment; compared to Obama, Trump hasn’t done anything to the media besides hurt their feelings. I chalk this up to incurable Trump Derangement Syndrome; CRISPR can’t fix that one.

      2. Sure. Just because the Dems never got around to amending the First Amendment doesn’t mean that Trump’s threats to amend the unamended first amendment would have been just as dangerous in amending an amended first amendment.

      3. I suppose murdering Chris Stevens from the opposite side of the globe with a video camera was just fake news to you.

    2. But, just because he criticizes certain press outlets (or individuals who work for those outlets) is hardly a war against the press.

      This. Call me when he starts investigating (read: intimidating) journalists for committing “espionage”, as the previous admin did. Sure, Trump calls out your bs (while peddling his own), but he hasn’t taken any action*

      *another example of proggies caring more for words and feelz instead of actions.

      1. Nick Gillespie is no progressives he is just sensitive about these things like all journalists and none of them can resist stretching to make threats more “real”. Also it is becoming one of his tells to include throwaway jabs at Trump to signal he is NOT a supporter. Just.protecting the Reason brand l think.

        The real threat is the language game the alphabet soup agencies are playing in advance of whatever evil shit they have up their sleeves for Assange.

  4. intelligence porn

    Like those teacher/student roleplays where there is only one way to pass the class?

    1. Bow chicki bow bow

  5. Well, the world’s governments could be encouraging software makers to create stronger encryption with no backdoors to keep data secure. But since they are doing the exact opposite, fuck them.

  6. I submit that secretive government is far more damaging to the US than Wikileaks could ever be.

  7. nice

  8. Where’s Oprah when you need her? “You get a woodchipper, and you get a woodchipper, and you get a woodchipper – everybody gets a woodchipper!”

  9. I’m not sure what Comey is like, what he wants, what he cares about or even if he’s a reasonable person. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

  10. Intelligence “porn”?
    Truth is now pornographic?
    The only way truth can damage someone is if they are corrupt.

    This government is rotten all the way to its core.

  11. If you parse his statement he doesn’t really say what we think we want it to say.

    “It crosses a line when it moves from being about educating a public intelligence porn, just pushing out information?just to damage the United States,”

    He never describes the other side of the line; it needs a connector between the educating and the porn. The most obvious would be to add “to” after public, and works as well. But then you get “being about educating a public”. I think the “a” was probably “the” and got garbled somewhere.

    But educating is exactly what Wikileaks does. So does that mean that “the press” is the intelligence porn?

  12. Comey is coming off more and more as someone who thinks he should be the ultimate arbiter of every facet of government, and much of non-government too.
    Time to show this budding totalitarian the door.

  13. Comey worked at HSBC who laundered drug money. He’s a proven liar. Why is he still here?

    1. Are you serious? He fits right in with his corruption and lying. You have to hand him the Oscar for “most open abuse of power by a LEO”. How many LEOs can present a perfect case for prosecution and then refuse to prosecute? He made real life appear more absurd than fiction.

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