A 'longtime friend' of Bill Barr just scorched the attorney general in an impassioned op-ed
William Webster, a former director of both the CIA and the FBI, published an incisive op-ed on Monday in the New York Times in which he took aim at, among others, his "longtime friend" Attorney General Bill Barr.
The ominous piece warned that Webster sees an "ominous threat to the country I love" under President Donald Trump.
I am deeply disturbed by the assertion of President Trump that our “current director” — as he refers to the man he selected for the job of running the F.B.I. — cannot fix what the president calls a broken agency. The 10-year term given to all directors following J. Edgar Hoover’s 48-year tenure was created to provide independence for the director and for the bureau. The president’s thinly veiled suggestion that the director, Christopher Wray, like his banished predecessor, James Comey, could be on the chopping block, disturbs me greatly. The independence of both the F.B.I. and its director is critical and should be fiercely protected by each branch of government.
Trump's apparent threat to Wray came after the director said in an interview that he agreed with a recent Justice Department Inspector General report that found, contrary to the president's claims, that the FBI had sufficient reason to open up an investigation of associates of the Trump campaign. The report also found no evidence that policial bias motivated the decision, though it did find that there were serious flaws and mistakes made in some parts of the investigation, particularly in the application for surveillance of Carter Page. As I've argued, those problems need to be recognized and raise important questions about the FBI.
But Webster warned that Trump and Barr's behavior is serious cause for alarm. On Barr, he wrote:
I know firsthand the professionalism of the men and women of the F.B.I. The aspersions cast upon them by the president and my longtime friend, Attorney General William P. Barr, are troubling in the extreme. Calling F.B.I. professionals “scum,” as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe. Mr. Barr’s charges of bias within the F.B.I., made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution.
The country can ill afford to have a chief law enforcement officer dispute the Justice Department’s own independent inspector general’s report and claim that an F.B.I. investigation was based on “a completely bogus narrative.” In fact, the report conclusively found that the evidence to initiate the Russia investigation was unassailable.
He also expressed concern about another friend of his and ally of the president:
I’m profoundly disappointed in another longtime, respected friend, Rudy Giuliani, who had spent his life defending our people from those who would do us harm. His activities of late concerning Ukraine have, at a minimum, failed the smell test of propriety. I hope he, like all of us, will redirect to our North Star, the rule of law, something so precious it is greater than any man or administration.
Michael Morell, a former Deputy Director of the CIA, said of Webster: "This is a must read from the least political man I know. Judge Webster is a person of the greatest integrity. When he feels compelled to pen such a forceful op-ed, something must be deeply wrong."