Comey, who challenged warrantless eavesdropping under Bush, tapped for FBI

Shorter Question Everything


President Obama plans to nominate James B. Comey, a former senior Justice Department official who famously challenged warrantless eavesdropping under President George W. Bush, to replace Robert S. Mueller III as director of the FBI, officials said Wednesday. For the Obama White House, Comey’s Republican credentials and record as a federal prosecutor made him an appealing candidate for the nation’s top law enforcement job. By tradition, the FBI director is considered nonpartisan. The White House will seek to win Senate confirmation for Comey, 52, before the August congressional recess, though it is uncertain exactly when he will be nominated, according to officials who were not authorized to speak publicly. Mueller, who has served as FBI chief since 2001, is set to retire in September. It was unclear whether Comey’s chances of confirmation will be affected by his dramatic history in the Bush administration. Comey threatened to resign as deputy attorney general rather than consent to secret surveillance of telephone calls by the National Security Agency. Bush had authorized the effort after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the Justice Department had determined the program was illegal.

Terrorism

• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was sent an anonymous threatening letter that preliminary tests indicated contained the presence of the poison ricin, law enforcement officials told NBC News. A similar letter, which early tests indicated contained ricin, was also sent to the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in Washington, D.C. In both letters, the writer made threatening comments about Bloomberg’s support for gun control, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public information Paul Browne said. The letter to Bloomberg was opened on Sunday, and the letter in Washington was opened on Friday. Law enforcement sources said the letters were postmarked May 20, from Shreveport, Louisiana.

High school security guard arrested for threatening to shoot up school. A man was arrested earlier this week for a terrorist threat against Nyack High School in New York, where he was employed as a security officer. Kenneth A. Carter, 51, was arrested May 22 without incident after a co-worker told police he made threats against the school. Carter allegedly threatened to “go home, get his guns and blow the place up” after facing disciplinary action from school officials. He was charged with making terroristic threats, a felony, and later released on $1,000 bail.

Pro-gun crackpot cancels parade, now demands overthrow of government. You may be disheartened to hear that the previously announced crackpot gun fetishist plan to march July 4th on Washington D.C. with loaded weapons is getting cancelled, presumably because even among America’s bravest right-wing gun-toters there was little stomach for a national day of action that might have involved getting pepper-sprayed like a common hippie. And that was pretty much the best of the expected outcomes. So now the crackpots have decided to just get right to the point with some good ol’ fashioned, full-throated talk of rebellion.

• Ibragim Todashev: A Chechen man who was fatally shot by an FBI agent last week during an interview about one of the Boston bombing suspects was unarmed, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. One law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said Wednesday that Todashev lunged at the agent and overturned a table. But the official said Todashev did not have a gun or a knife. A second official also said Todashev was unarmed. An official said that according to one account of the shooting, the other law enforcement officials had just stepped out of the room, leaving the FBI agent alone with Todashev, when the confrontation occurred.

Police arrested a Disneyland employee on suspicion of putting a so-called dry ice bomb in a theme park trash can where it exploded, authorities said Wednesday. No one was injured in the small blast, but Disneyland briefly evacuated the Mickey’s Toontown section where the incident occurred Tuesday. The trash can did not blow up. Christian Barnes, 22, of Long Beach was arrested for investigation of possessing a destructive device, just hours after the blast, Anaheim police Sgt. Bob Dunn said in a statement.

• Two US diplomats wounded in a shooting at a strip club in Caracas may have fired at each other, according to an employee at the club.

• The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians last year plans to plead guilty to the killings next week, his attorney said Wednesday. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales hopes to avoid the death penalty if his plea is accepted, Seattle defense attorney John Henry Browne told The Associated Press.

Canada

Opposition hammers Harper over Wright deal for 2nd straight day. The opposition continued its attempts to hold Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s feet to the fire over the deepening Senate expense scandal, using Wednesday’s question period to ask about what Harper knew and when he knew it. Both Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau asked relatively short, direct questions about Harper’s knowledge of the $90,172 cheque Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright gave to Sen. Mike Duffy to repay ineligible expenses. Both Mulcair and Trudeau asked Harper specifically about an email from Feb. 20, in which Duffy is purported to have said that he stayed silent about his deal with Wright on the orders of the Prime Minister’s Office. Mulcair asked to know who in Harper’s office has a copy of that email.

Police have made a second arrest in connection with the killing of a man whose image has become linked with the Rob Ford drug video controversy. Hanad Mohamed of Toronto, 23, has been arrested in Alberta and charged with first-degree murder in the March 28 fatal shooting of Anthony Smith in downtown Toronto.

Rob Ford video scandal: Mayor Ford said he knew where video was, sources say. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told senior aides not to worry about a video appearing to show him smoking crack cocaine because he knew where it was, sources told the Star. Ford then blurted out the address of two 17th-floor units — 1701 and 1703 — at a Dixon Rd. apartment complex, to the shock of staffers at a city hall meeting almost two weeks ago, the sources said.

Syria

• President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said in a television interview to be broadcast on Thursday that Russia has delivered S-300 air defense missiles to his country, weapons that Israel has said present a threat to its security and against which it is willing to use force.

If McCain didn’t even know he was posing with a kidnapper, how can he be trusted on the rest of it? Senator John McCain’s office is pushing back against reports that while visiting Syria this week he posed in a photo with rebels who kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shi’ite pilgrims. The photo, released by McCain’s office, shows McCain with a group of rebels. Among them are two men identified in the Lebanese press as Mohamed Nour and Abu Ibrahim, two of the kidnappers of the group from Lebanon. Rogers said that if the man in the photo turns out to actually be Mohamed Nour, that is “regrettable.”

Syria’s opposition will not participate in proposed international peace talks in Geneva next month, its leader has said. George Sabra, the head of the Syrian National Coalition, on Thursday said the opposition was suspending their participation until the international community intervened to end the siege in Qusayr, a town in Homs province near the Lebanese border.

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