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Obama nominates James Comey to be the next FBI director

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Updated: 6/21/2013 3:58 pm
(NBC News) President Obama today announced, as his nominee to take over the FBI, James Comey.

Comey is a former bush administration official best known for challenging N.S.A. wiretapping and helping force the programs to come under court and congressional oversight.

Comey is hero status to some on the issue of surveillance and that could make it easier for President Obama to get senate confirmation for his choice of FBI director.

Comey calls himself a freakishly tall republican.

Comey was deputy attorney general, an executive at Lockheed Martin and an investment firm.

"I'm not sure i have the words to describe how excited i am to return to the department of justice, and especially to get to work again with the people of the FBI. They are men and women who have devoted their lives to serving and protecting others," Comey said.

Comey would take over the bureau just after Americans learned their phone and internet use might be monitored by the NSA, with follow up by the FBI.

Outgoing FBI Director Mueller revealed the FBI is using drones for domestic surveillance.

Comey famously took a stand against secret surveillance.

As acting attorney general, in 2004, in a confrontation with senior Bush 43 White House officials, Comey challenged the legality of NSA wiretaps done without warrants.

"He was prepared to give up a job he loved rather than be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong," President Obama said.

The current programs require warrants.

But some in congress demand less data collection.

"And the better way would be to have the telecommunications companies retain their own records and when we need to query them, we query them," said democratic congressman Adam Schiff of California.

Today the senate republican leader charged a white house attack on free speech, including IRS targeting of the tea party.

This administration has institutionalized the practice of pitting bureaucrats against the very people they're supposed to be serving, and it needs to stop," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Current FBI director, Robert Mueller, whose term is expiring, took the job a week before 9-11 and made his main goal preventing another attack like that.

-- Steve Handelsman, NBC News, reports
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