Mueller, Robert Swann, III

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Mueller, Robert Swann, III

Robert Swann Mueller III became the sixth director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on September 4, 2001. In that position, Mueller has faced conflict and controversy stemming from a host of problems concerning spy scandals, terrorist activities, and accusations that the Bureau had developed a "culture of arrogance" that impeded its ability to function.

Mueller was born in New York City on August 7, 1944. He graduated from Princeton University in 1966. He also received a master's degree in International Studies from New York University. In 1973, he received his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he also served on the Law Review.

Mueller served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent one year in the Third Marine Division in Vietnam. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, two Navy commendation medals, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

After his military service, Mueller embarked on a multifaceted career that saw him moving between private practice and government positions while building a record of support from Republicans as well as Democrats. From 1973 to 1976, Mueller worked as a litigation associate at the law firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in San Francisco. Between 1976 and 1981, he served in a number of positions in the Civil and Criminal Divisions of the Office of the U.S. Attorney, Northern District of California in San Francisco.

From 1986 to 1987, Mueller served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, where he had been Chief of the Criminal Division from 1982 to 1985. While he served in these offices, Mueller gained experience prosecuting a wide variety of cases, including Racketeering cases, complex tax and financial Fraud cases, drug conspiracies, government corruption, and cases involving terrorists.

Mueller was a partner in the Boston firm of Hill & Barlow from 1988 to 1989. From 1989 to 1990, he worked in the Justice Department as the assistant to Attorney General Richard L. Thornburgh. In June 1990, he was nominated by President george h.w. bush to be Assistant Attorney General in charge of the department's Criminal Division. While in that position, Mueller oversaw a number of high-profile cases including the prosecutions of former Panamanian president Manuel Noriega and New York organized-crime boss John Gotti and the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103.

From 1993 to 1995, Mueller practiced law as a partner in Hale & Dorr, a Boston firm where he centered his work on sophisticated transactions, including complex litigation, White-Collar Crime, and internal corporate reviews. From 1995 to 1998, Mueller worked in the Homicide Section of the office of U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, becoming Section Chief in 1997. Some former colleagues viewed this as a step down for a man who had super-vised an entire division of the Department of Justice, but Mueller explained that he felt obligated to do what he could to stop the horrendously high murder rate of young people in the nation's capital.

In August 1998, Mueller became interim U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. He was nominated by President bill clinton on the recommendation of Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and confirmed by the Senate to the permanent position in October, 1999. Mueller held that position until August 2001. Between January and May of 2001, he also served as Acting Deputy General of the U.S. Department of Justice.

"I know we will be judged by history not juston how we disrupt and deter terrorism, but also on how we protectthe civil liberties and constitutional rights of all Americans, including those Americans who wish us ill."
—Robert S. Mueller

In May 2001, FBI Director Louis Freeh announced his resignation. His eight-year tenure had been marked by criticism of several high-profile cases, including that of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and turncoat FBI agent Robert Hanssen. Two months later, Mueller was nominated by President george w. bush to fill a ten-year term as director of the FBI. Mueller was confirmed to the position in August 1, 2001, by a Senate vote of 98–0.

Despite enjoying broad bipartisan support, Mueller faced a number of difficult challenges involving interdepartmental communications, the continuing investigations into alleged terrorist activities, and the restructuring of the department's bureaucracy. Controversies continued to arise, including criticism regarding the FBI's failure to act on information that preceded the september 11th terrorist attacks and the FBI's announcement in April 2003 that a former FBI agent might have caused serious losses of classified information during his affair with a prominent Chinese businesswoman who was accused of being a double agent working for China.

Further readings

Mueller, Robert S. 2003. "Congressional Statement, 2003: War on Terrorism" (statement). Available online at <www.fbi.gov/congress/congress03/mueller021103.htm> (accessed July 25, 2003).

"Profile: FBI Chief Robert Mueller." 2003. Available online at <news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1424760.stm> (accessed July 25, 2003).

"Robert S. Mueller, III." 2003. Available online at <www.fbi.gov/libref/directors/mueller.htm> (accessed April 21, 2003).