The captive mainstream media is spinning facts to confuse you.
It is true that FBI Director Comey rebuffed the efforts of VP Cheney to get Attorney General (AG) Ashcroft's signature on an authorization to continue illegal mass surveillance against Americans, and never defined "Other Intelligence Activities." This much of the mythologizing of the reputation of Director Comey is true. I think that the claim that he is incorruptible and a defender of the Republic is overreach. I will explain.
The AG was stricken with "severe gallstone pancreatitis and was admitted to the George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC." (Cited from OIGs of DOD, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and Director of National Intelligence, Unclassified Report on the President's Surveillance Program, 2009, p. 21). This happened on 4 March, 2004.
It is also true, though not mentioned in this mythologizing article and others like it, that much of the superstructure of the DOJ threatened to resign in protest, if VP Cheney's lawyers pressured Attorney General Ashcroft to sign the authorization, as he was incapacitated and hospitalized and very unwell at the time. He had, in fact, surrendered his authorities to Assistant Attorney General Comey, who was then Acting Attorney General.
The infamous meeting took place on 10 March, 2004, and is recounted on pages 23-6 of the Unclassified Report. Then Acting Attorney General Comey and several other bureaucrats, including then-Director Mueller of the FBI, threatened to resign and drafted letters of resignation on 11-13 March, 2004.
As explained in the Unclassified Report on the PSP:
"On the morning of March 12, 2004, Comey decided not to direct the FBI to cease cooperating with the NSA in conjunction with the program. Comey's decision is documented in a one-page memorandum from Goldsmith to Comey in which Goldsmith explained that the President, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive with the constitutional duty to "take care that the laws are faithfully executed," made a determination that the PSP, (the President's Surveillance Program), as practiced, was lawful. Goldsmith concluded that this determination was binding on the entire Executive Branch, including Comey in his exercise of the powers of the Attorney General." (P. 28).
Imperial presidency, indeed. The president made a determination, and everyone was expected to get on board and support it, whether they had reservations or not. What gets me, though, is the following paragraph:
"On March 12, 2004 an interagency working group led by OLC (Office of Legal Counsel) was convened to continue reanalyzing the legality of the PSP. In the days that followed, Goldsmith continued to express doubt that a viable legal rationale could be found for some of the Other Intelligence Activities being conducted under the PSP." (P. 28).
Um, what? What "Other Intelligence Activities?" These have never been explained, and remain highly classified. Whatever they were, Director Comey's aversion to them nearly crashed the US government.
Dueling memos ensued, with Comey advising White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez that "DOJ remained unable to find a legal basis to support certain Other Intelligence Activities that had been authorized as part of the program and that such activities should be discontinued immediately." Comey's dissent was based on the "President's decision ... to override an otherwise applicable Act of Congress." (P. 29).
Gonzalez's spike in the heart of the Republic was dry, as such memorandums always are:
"...the President has addressed definitively for the Executive Branch in the Presidential Authorization the interpretation of the law." (P. 29).
That was it. "The President has addressed definitively." The Presidential interpretation was the only one that mattered. That was all that Gonzalez said when he explained that President Bush was breaking the law and rubbishing the Constitution and defying Congress.
Nonetheless, perhaps chastened by better men than himself, in following days the President modified "certain PSP intelligence-gathering activities" and he discontinued "certain Other Intelligence Activities that DOJ believed were legally unsupported." This happened on 17 March 2004. (P. 29).
This incredible tale is told in the Unclassified Report on the PSP dated 10 July 2009, by the Inspectors General of the DOD, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and ODNI. It is listed as Report No. 2009-0013-AS. You can google for it, or click the link above and read it for yourself, as I recently did. I am looking right at a copy of it, as I write this.
As a mere Assistant Attorney General, Comey was not read into the compartment holding what was then known as "The Program," the "President's Surveillance Program," or PSP, which authorized NSA and FBI bulk spying against Americans, and "Other Intelligence Activities," which are alluded to, but never clarified in the unclassified version of the report.
The Program was at that time among the most secret of all American intelligence initiatives. Critics split on whether it was secret because it focused on terrorists who were not yet aware that their communications were harvested wholesale by NSA, or if the Program was secret because it broke the law, it raped the Constitution, in fact, by illegally surveilling Americans without legal authority, without warrants, without any exigent rationale.
We do not know what else was perpetrated in the documents authorizing the Program, only that they are referred to as "Other Intelligence Activities," and they were allegedly halted, as even the lapdogs at the apex of the Bush administration found them too extreme.
Either way, Acting Attorney General Comey was dismayed when he was read into the compartment, and he refused to sign an authorization permitting the activities to continue, as was done in those days every 45 days. This reflects that the perpetrators understood that what they were doing was illegal, they rationalized that it would be temporary, and they were doing it to "save the country," as they claimed that another Al Qaeda plot could be underway.
By 2004, it was no longer possible to claim that the activities authorized by President Bush were "temporary." They had been reauthorized every 45 days until January 17, 2007, after The Program was blown by New York Times journalists James Risen and Eric Lictblau in their December, 2005 exposés beginning with "Bush Lets US Spy on Callers Without Courts," The New York Times, December 16, 2005. (Unclassified Report, pg. 1.)
Director Comey is often cited as incorruptible, as a bureaucrat who will obey the law, and who will deflect all efforts to suborn him. Why, then, I ask the obvious question, was he rewarded with the Directorship of the FBI after he defied the Vice President, and almost precipitated a crisis at the highest levels of the American government?
Was it done in the hope that Director Comey would decline future interviews explaining why he almost crashed the government? Was it done because he ultimately got on board with the team, and consented to the wholesale surveillance of Americans? And just what are the "Other Intelligence Activities" that were at the heart of the dispute, but which are never clarified in the OIG Report? We can have as many suspicions as we like. Absent another Snowden event, we may never know.
I wonder, because Director Comey is leading the effort to impose backdoors into all communications, an effort which has been considered and rejected on multiple previous occasions. This effort is doomed to fail, I believe, because all that it can hope to achieve is access for a tyrannical government into our private communications, while terrorists and other malfeasants can simply use other apps, other methods, which are outside the control of any American regime.
I have said before, and I will say again now, that the convenience of the federal government does not trump our rights enshrined under the Constitution. I wonder at all of this, honestly, as it is clear that NSA already accesses the vast majority of all communications on the internet. In those rare cases where it cannot access the communications of Americans directly, it can access them indirectly, relying on the TEMPORA Naris taps of the net fiber entering the UK at Bude and other locations.
Indeed FVEY is NSA's strategic depth. FVEY is beyond Congressional jurisdiction, we can pass any legislation that we like in America, but we cannot dictate to FVEY. FVEY exists outside all jurisdictions, it is subject to no oversight, it responds to no authorities, and our Congress just keeps on funding it, passing endless black budgets which are subject to no outside scrutiny.
So Director Comey is no "wild card" for the Clintons. Director Comey is very much on the team, and articles like this, which suggest that he might sink Hillary's electoral prospects with an investigation into her email practices, are nothing but smoke and mirrors intended to deceive you.
Do not believe it.
And never fear: history is not on their side.