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Obama to tap Jim Comey as new FBI chief

21 june 2013, 15:28
President Barack Obama will formally nominate a former senior Bush administration official Friday to head the Federal Bureau of Investigation, AFP reports according to the White House.

Jim Comey, a deputy attorney general under George W. Bush, would replace Robert Mueller, who is stepping down from the agency he has led since the week before the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The White House hailed Comey as "one of our nation's most skilled and respected national security and law enforcement professionals."

"In more than two decades as a prosecutor and national security professional, Jim has demonstrated unwavering toughness, integrity and principle in defending both our security and our values," it said.

Comey, 52, played a key role in counterterrorism debates during the Bush years, refusing in 2004 to vouch for the legal aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance.

At the time, Comey was serving as acting attorney general while John Ashcroft was hospitalized.

Comey left the Justice Department in 2005 to serve as general counsel and senior vice president for top US defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

He then joined hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, which he left early this year to teach at Columbia University Law School.

"Coupled with his career in public service, Jim's private sector experiences in the defense and financial industries have given him a unique skill set and a deep understanding of the threats that criminals and terrorists pose to both our physical and economic security," the White House said.

If confirmed by the Senate, the Republican would take up his new role amid controversy over vast NSA surveillance programs that came to light earlier this month after a government contractor leaked details of them to the media.

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