Robert Mueller III ’66 took office as director of the FBI one week before the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nearly 10 years later, he remains one of the nation’s leading figures in the fight against terrorism – and he may be extending his stay in office. On May 12, President Barack Obama asked Congress to add two years to Mueller’s appointment, moving him past the 10-year maximum outlined by federal law; according to published reports, congressional leaders have backed the idea.
Obama gave two primary reasons for the proposed extension: Mueller’s competence in the job (he’s “set the gold standard for leading the bureau,” the president said); and the need for continuity as new leaders step into the top posts at the Pentagon (Leon Panetta) and the CIA (Gen. David Petraeus *85 *87).
Mueller, a former federal prosecutor and Marine officer, recently was the subject of a Time magazine cover story in which reporter Barton Gellman ’82 explored the FBI’s changing makeup during Mueller’s decade as director. The story described Mueller’s remarkable clout behind the scenes, his willingness to stay out of the public spotlight, and his high standards for the bureau’s field offices – standards that make Princeton’s efforts to curb grade inflation seem lax by comparison. Under a new review system that Mueller unveiled in 2008, about 35 percent of field-office heads earned a “good” or “fair” rating, the story said; the rest were “deemed deficient.”
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