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Obama praises, installs new FBI head

WASHINGTON — James Comey’s law enforcement career, from his days as a federal prosecutor to his work for the attorney general, was praised Monday by President Obama as a success story that shows Comey is the right choice to lead the FBI for the next decade.

Three former FBI directors and two former attorneys general were on hand as Comey told about 3,000 FBI employees and guests gathered in the agency’s courtyard on Pennsylvania Avenue that the FBI must be ‘‘independent of all political forces and interests.’’

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Comey took over last month for Robert Mueller, who stepped down after 12 years as FBI director. Obama said he picked Comey, a former George W. Bush administration official, to lead the FBI after interviewing many other candidates for the job.

In remarks emphasizing that the FBI must never abuse its power, Comey said he will direct that all new FBI agents visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington as a reminder of the agency’s excesses of the civil rights era when the FBI treated King and others as internal security threats and spied on them.

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