FBI Director James Comey Washington Post column leads to diplomatic spat with Poland.

FBI Director’s Washington Post Column Leads to Diplomatic Spat With Poland

FBI Director’s Washington Post Column Leads to Diplomatic Spat With Poland

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April 19 2015 2:34 PM

FBI Director’s Washington Post Columnn Leads to Diplomatic Spat With Poland

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FBI Director James Comey testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on June 11, 2014.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Poland summoned the U.S. ambassador in Warsaw on Sunday to protest an article written by FBI director James Comey in the Washington Post that mentioned Poland’s alleged responsibility for the Holocaust, Reuters reports. The article was an adaptation from a speech Comey gave at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil,” Comey writes in the article, in which he explains why he requires all new FBI special agents and intelligence analysts to visit the Holocaust Museum. “They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.”

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Comey’s comments caused a big outcry in Poland, a country that was occupied by the Nazis for six years. A senior aide to Poland’s president called Comey “a fool” in a radio show on Sunday, according to the Wall Street Journal. Poland’s ambassador to the United States sent a letter “protesting against the falsification of history, especially for accusing Poles of perpetrating crimes which not only did they not commit, but which they themselves were victims of.”

Ambassador Stephen Mull in Warsaw tried to play down the incident, which marked a rare fight for the two strong allies, saying Comey did not intend to offend anyone. “Suggestions that Poland is responsible for the Holocaust are wrong, damaging and slanderous,” he said, speaking in Polish. “Director Comey for sure didn’t want to suggest that Poland holds responsibility for those criminals.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.