Extending FBI Director Mueller’s Term…a Rare Occurrence

Sunday, June 19, 2011
Since the 37-year reign of J. Edgar Hoover came to an end with his death in 1972, the FBI has been led by only five directors, each of whom has served one 10-year term in office, as determined by federal law. It is against this historical backdrop that President Barack Obama’s decision to extend the current term of FBI leader, Robert Mueller III, stands out.
No president in the post-Hoover era has tried to keep an FBI director in office beyond 10 years, until Obama. Mueller was confirmed by the Senate in August 2001, and his term is set to expire this September 2011.
Last month, though, Obama announced his intention to seek legislation that would extend Mueller’s term for another two years. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) obliged the president by introducing S. 1103, which would accomplish Obama’s goal.
Extending a term of office for any position with a legal limit is unusual, but not unprecedented. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, in 1951 Congress extended the terms of the three commissioners of the Displaced Persons Commission for one year, and in the 1980s and 1990s, Congress extended the terms of members of the United States Parole Commission.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
FBI Directorship: History and Congressional Action (by Vivian S. Chu and Henry B. Hogue, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)


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