The national director for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, made a visit to the Oklahoma City field offices Thursday. Director James Comey, Jr. said it was his first visit to Oklahoma City and he hoped to get a sense of the needs and priorities of his agents as he settles into his job as the head of the agency.
Speaking to reporters after his meetings with agents, local police and state investigators, Comey said counter terrorism remains the top priority of the FBI. "I wake up every morning worrying about it and I go to bed every night worrying about it."
Comey said the military has made significant advances against the organized terror cells that have long operated along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but now the challenge is finding those terror cells that are less organized. He said a key concern is the growth of the so-called "home-grown terrorists."
"Those are people that are not directed by al-Qaida, but who may be sitting in their basement in their pajamas convincing themselves they have to engage in some kind of jihad and go and kill innocent people," Comey told reporters.
Comey says he supports the efforts of data collection that have been highlighted during the scrutiny of the National Security Agency. He says the data collection the FBI participates in is well within the law, but he understands the concerns of those critical of the program.
"I start with the premise that all Americans should be suspicious of government power," Comey said, "This country was built by people who worried very much about government power so they divided it into three branches of government."
Comey says the collection of dialing data by the NSA and FBI is part of a law that was passed by Congress and signed by the President. He says the oversight of that data collection is carried out by all three branches of government. "Reasonable folks may disagree about the policy and say the government shouldn't have a database of records. I respect that view," Comey said. But he said it does not rise to the level of corruption or controversy as some critics have attempted to portray it.