Don’t be distracted by the birds overhead when we should watch the deep water predators below

Eric Steinkopff - Managing Editor

One year when I was stationed in Japan and I managed to get some time off a very hectic schedule to spend some well-deserved leave in Hawaii.

It was everything that you can imagine, except triple the cost, crowds and traffic.

Instead of leaving 15 minutes early to get across town in Altus, you had to expect almost an hour.

I had the opportunity to go deep-sea fishing while I was there and discovered that all the boat captains radio each other as they scour the ocean looking for birds.

We aren’t bird hunting, I thought, but later learned the winged creatures are just a sign of what lies underneath.

Apparently, the flocks of birds swarming over the water far from land are feeding on small fish boiling to the surface because there are much larger predator fish below.

As the deep-water predators skimmed off the bottoms of the schools of smaller fish, the little ones are forced to the surface where other winged hunters are circling in the air to pluck them off the top.

There are probably dozens of analogies you can make from this example, but it reminds me that the things you see obviously swarming above aren’t always the most important things that lie unseen beneath the surface.

That is where my opinion lies in the recent dismissal of former FBI director James Comey.

While I don’t entirely swallow the proposition that something last July by itself caused his current dilemma, I also don’t think it has anything at all to do with Russian intervention and collusion.

The first would be something similar to the small bait fish at the surface of the water in my example above and the latter is likely akin to those birds circling overhead — easy to see and identify, but not the real cause of the situation — just a byproduct of a feeding frenzy.

My observation is this — when I speak with local law enforcement about ongoing investigations, they are not allowed to talk about them because preliminary information must be verified and evaluated.

It also is important to maintain an unbiased opinion in the public for any potential jury pool so that any accused who might be charged out of the investigation can get a fair trial.

There also are concerns about sensitive sources and investigative methods that could be diminished and make future probes more difficult if everyone knew how they did them.

Those under investigation might be entirely innocent, so to brand them with such talk also can hurt their reputations.

So, for Comey to come out and confirm that multiple investigations are underway and later proclaim innocence was a major departure from standard practice.

It is my humble opinion that a lack of leadership, or lack of authority to act as a leader, led or contributed to his actions. Nature doesn’t like a vacuum and things will move in to fill a blank space — typically with negative stuff.

If the Obama or Trump administrations did not or could not rein in Comey as he talked about things outside of standard practice and then gave advice about prosecution that is not in his job description, then it’s easy to understand how he strayed from standard practice.

I humbly believe that his most recent interview about Anthony Weiner’s classified emails from his estranged wife and Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin when he got some very basic factual information incorrect was just the last straw for the Trump administration.

Clearly the dismissal could have been done better, maybe with a private meeting between Trump and Comey, just saying things aren’t working out and asking for his resignation with the released firing document in paper copy only — so that it didn’t get bounced around the internet millions of times in an electronic version.

The official statement could read that Comey elected to resign due to person reasons — things aren’t working out — and everyone would be left with their dignity intact.

Personnel matters typically aren’t released to the public anyway. That avoids embarrassment, second guessing and character assignation on both sides.

But there we go again, breaking from normal tradition in an arena in which we don’t have all the facts.

Eric Steinkopff

Managing Editor

Reach Eric Steinkopff at or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.

Reach Eric Steinkopff at or 580-482-1221, ext 2072.

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