Greeson: Hey, FBI, let's protect freedom more than feelings

FBI Director James Comey answers questions during a news conference at the FBI office in Nashville on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.
FBI Director James Comey answers questions during a news conference at the FBI office in Nashville on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.

Two lead stories in Saturday's Times Free Press were sad. And startling.

Rightly, in the middle of the front page, was the cowardly and horrific terrorist attacks in Paris.

To the right was a story about the investigation into the July 16 killings of five military personnel in Chattanooga. In that story, the FBI director James Comey said the public may never know what motivated a 24-year-old homegrown extremist to gun down the five men.

photo Jay Greeson

"Sometimes the way we investigate requires us to keep information secret. That's a good thing. We don't want to smear people," Comey said Friday while in Nashville.

Say what?

The leader of one of the critical groups on the front lines against the ever-changing and ever-growing war on terror is worried about smearing people?

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

Yes, withholding information that could be pertinent to the investigation makes sense, but the last sentence is beyond troubling.

OK, maybe he misspoke. That can happen from time to time.

But, if his diction is not to blame, and Comey or any of the other folks leading the charge against ISIS and the rest of the international criminals committing horrific acts across the globe want us to believe that we should be worried about a possible "smear" against someone compared to saving lives, then we need new leadership.

This is a fight that has changed the daily lives of millions. Metal detectors are commonplace at football games and Broadway shows. The wand treatment hardly causes a pause.

Yet, the FBI head is worried about appearances - be them for a person, a family or a group of people - in an event that will be remembered forever in Chattanooga. If that information is about the investigation, fine. But are we prepared to keep pertinent information - information that could potentially help all or some of us in future scenarios - because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings?

To get this straight, you have in one corner a group only worried about the number of people they can kill or injure. And we're supposed to consider the feelings of those who may or may not have conspired with them?

This also applies to opening our doors for tens of thousands of refugees, especially those from Syria. If you want to open our arms, answer this: What's the percentage of possible terrorists we are welcoming into our country that is acceptable to you? If there's only one extremist among that 10,000 and he only kills, say, 100 people, is that an acceptable exchange rate for you?

Not for me. Not now in these times, as we look around and wonder when, not if, the next strike will occur. (Kudos to the governors of Tennessee and Georgia for declining to accept Syrian refugees at this time.)

As we move into the next phase of this war - and if you believe it's not a war, well, good luck with that - we need leaders prepared to fight and win.

If we are going to be overly concerned about the feelings of those on the perimeter of terrorist activities, well, frankly, freedom and its followers could very well get smeared in this conflict.

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343. Follow him at Twitter/jgreesontfp.

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