FBI Director’s Letter Has the Right Touch
- On May 17, 2017
My sister was back again, this time asking what I thought of FBI Director James Comey’s farewell letter to his staff. I told her I thought it was good—short (185 words!), to the point, and sincere. The takeaway was clear: Stay focused on the work you do for the FBI, and if you do, you will reap rewards and the American people will too.
His voice sounded natural, and he communicated his feelings plainly: It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.
I saw only two small glitches.
• I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason.
Neither the words president nor director should be capitalized because they’re not acting as formal titles preceding the name of a person.
• I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence.
I like his use of the serial comma (the one after honesty), but the two bracketing in times of turbulence needn’t be there. Some uses of the comma follow strict rules, but others are subjective. A writer might say, “I want to pause there, so I’m going to put in a comma.” But if you read that sentence aloud, you don’t pause.
Comey may have put them there deliberately to stress just how turbulent these times are.
Not necessary. We already know.