President Obama’s nominee to become the next director of the FBI is facing a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the panel, says he has a lot of questions for James Comey.
“I want to hear from Mr. Comey what he thinks about the proper limits on the use of domestic drones, whether he would delay their use until final regulations and policies are drafted, and how he would deploy drones for domestic use,” Grassley told reporters on a conference call this morning.
In June, current FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted his agency had used drones “in a limited way” for surveillance within the U.S., but had yet to fully develop policies for the use of such technology.
“This concerns me,” Grassley said. “Policies don’t do much good if they’re developed after the fact.” Comey was U.S. Deputy Attorney General, serving in President George W. Bush administration from December 2003 through August 2005.
Civil liberties groups have raised concerns about Comey signing off on waterboarding of terrorism suspects. Grassley wants to know how Comey feels about the FBI’s role in national security. “Since 9-11, the walls have been brought down between intelligence and law enforcement, but concerns expressed in recent years threaten to rebuilt those walls,” Grassley said.
“Some have opposed the sharing of cyber-security threat information which could erroneously reconstitute such a separation. I want to hear Mr. Comey’s views on cyber-security, counter-terrorism, and counter-intelligence.” Comey is also expected to face questions about the latest surveillance controversy: the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone and email records.
Since 2005, Comey has held top positions with Lockheed Martin and Bridgewater Associates.