My view of the general range of Obama administration officials is that they go from, on the one hand, empty suits to, on the other hand, ideologues who are trying their best to take us down the road of Venezuela to the maximum extent they can get away with. But one guy in this collection who actually gives at least the appearance of being a relatively serious person trying (mostly) to do his job is James Comey of the FBI. Even so, there's just something about being a government operative that means that you can't help yourself from devoting every day trying to grow your budget and your empire, and you never spend one minute identifying the waste in your budget and trying to eliminate it.
So Comey has been in the news quite a bit recently, and every time it's basically the same thing -- how we're working really hard, day and night, to protect the American people against terror generally and ISIS specifically, but it's really labor-intensive work, and our people are really stretched and stressed, and I'm just not sure that we have the "resources" we need to do this job as well as we should. In other words, it's the usual bureaucrat's plea to grow his budget and his empire. As just a couple of examples, consider this report from HNGN on October 24 ("Comey suggested the FBI might not have enough resources to meet the mounting demand[for terror-related investigations]"), or this report from the Washington Times on November 17 ("Bureau officials are deeply worried that they don't have enough resources to track a growing number of radicalized Americans inspired by the Islamic State . . . .").
Having enough resources to combat foreign and domestic terrorism does seem like an important mission for the FBI. On the other hand, I'd feel a lot more sympathy for the beleaguered FBI agents if I wasn't personally aware of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of hours of their time wasted on the ridiculous campaign of the Obama administration to seek criminal convictions of Wall Street bankers and traders for normal activity and thereby keep up a pretense that criminality in the financial sector was the cause of the recent financial crisis.
For information on some of the many dozens of hugely expensive phony prosecutions of the last seven years, see my tag on Phony Prosecutions. Leading the list of such phony prosecutions has been the jihad against insider trading, particularly the branch of same involving non-insiders. See coverage on that subject, for example here and here. These prosecutions have been hugely expensive and involve many thousands of man hours each. The whole non-insider branch of the field was invalidated by the Second Circuit in the Newman/Chiasson case, and a score or so of wrongly-prosecuted individuals vindicated. And nobody can even identify a victim of insider trading, let alone articulate an economic theory under which it is harmful to the markets. And then there have been the endless shakedowns of banks that the government knows will never take a case to trial and will always back down and pay a billion or two or five to move on. Here's coverage of one example out of dozens. Add in the endless prosecutions of pharmaceutical companies for constitutionally protected free speech in "off-label" marketing, and now you're easily into the multiple millions of hours of wasted FBI time during the course of the Obama administration. Funny that Comey never seems to mention how millions of hours of his people's time is wasted on political and shakedown prosecutions of non-criminals. But we need more "resources" to combat terror, so you'll just have to give us more money!
The latest development in this line came down just yesterday from the Second Circuit, reversing the conviction of a guy named Jesse Litvak, former bond trader from Jeffries & Co., for allegedly lying about certain mortgage-backed securities to his counterparties in bond trades, who in these instances were the government itself. The alleged "lies" involved things like how much Litvak had bought the bonds for, and whether he owned them himself versus acting as an intermediary. In other words, the alleged lies were things that did not go to the current value of the securities; and the government asks to be treated like a babe in the woods, instead of like the gorilla it is in the bond markets. Is there actually someone out there who thinks that this prosecution is a good use of limited government resources? Unlike the Newman/Chiasson case, the court did not fully exonerate Litvak, and has given the government the opportunity to retry the case. So Jim, how many hundreds or thousands of hours of your guys' time is going to go down this particular drain while you devote insufficient resources to the terrorist threat?