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“We have a number of people in the United States [whom] we could not indict, there’s not probable cause to indict them or to arrest them, who present a threat of terrorism, articulated maybe up on the Internet, may have purchased a gun, but taken no particular steps to take a terrorist act,” Mr. Mueller said. “And we are stuck in the position of surveilling that person for a substantial period of time.”

GPS trackers “enabled us to utilize resources elsewhere,” the FBI director added.

Mr. Mueller said the FBI will comply with the court decision and will make certain that whatever test is adopted ultimately, the bureau will adhere to that in terms of using GPS.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports