- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 8, 2001

The veteran prosecutor named to head the FBI has what many believe is a tough assignment facing him in bringing some accountability to an agency under fire from both the public and Congress.
Robert S. Mueller III, a former Marine Corps officer who served in Vietnam and won the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, is going to have to bring that same kind of wartime tenacity to the job to address and correct a series of FBI blunders and missteps.
President Bush, who nominated Mr. Mueller as FBI director last week, has already given him his marching orders: "The FBI has a great tradition that Mr. Mueller must now affirm, and some important challenges he must confront."
Mr. Bush, during a Rose Garden ceremony to announce the Mueller nomination, appeared confident the no-nonsense former acting deputy attorney general and U.S. attorney in San Francisco — who helped in the Bush transition — is the right man for the job.
"As a lawyer, prosecutor and government official, he has shown high ideals, a clear sense of purpose, and a tested devotion to his country," Mr. Bush said. "Bob Mueller's experience and character convince me he's ready to shoulder these responsibilities."
But others, from both sides of the political aisle, have some questions about how Mr. Mueller intends to run the embattled agency. However, few doubt that his infamous rough-hewn management style is precisely what the agency needs following the recent debacles that have plagued the FBI — the botched investigation of former nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee; the arrest of 27-year veteran FBI agent Robert P. Hanssen, who admitted he sold secrets to the Soviet Union and Russia; and the failure to turn over 4,000 pages of documents to prosecutors and defense attorneys during the trial of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was looking forward to meeting with Mr. Mueller and discussing needed reforms at the FBI.
"The committee has already begun a series of oversight hearings on the FBI," Mr. Leahy said. "The new FBI director will inherit an agency with superb resources and capabilities, but it is also an agency beleaguered by a series of high-profile mistakes and by a culture that too often does not recognize and correct its errors."
"It will be the committee's job to determine if Mr. Mueller is the right person for the job," he said. "I will be interested in hearing Mr. Mueller's views, his willingness to acknowledge and correct the bureau's problems and his ability to meet these challenges head on."
Mr. Leahy said he will begin confirmation hearings for the Bush nominee once the administration completes its background check and the president forwards the nomination to the Senate.
"I look forward to sitting down with Mr. Mueller and talking about the systemic problems I've identified with the FBI and the kinds of dramatic reforms that must be made in order to restore public confidence in federal law enforcement," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"I want to make sure he's equipped to take on the serious problems facing new leadership at the FBI. There's a management culture with an air about it that the FBI can do no wrong. That attitude is at the root of the problems we've seen in high-profile cases," Mr. Grassley said.
Mr. Mueller has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, and that will be an advantage when the confirmation process begins.
Although Mr. Mueller is a lifelong Republican, Democrats generally believe he may be the right choice.
An early supporter is Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, who believes Mr. Mueller "has all the qualities needed to become an outstanding director of the FBI."

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