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The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"One of the world's most important law enforcement positions"
 real 28k

Stephen Gillers, professor of law at NY University
"Mr Mueller will bring to the FBI the qualities needed to turn it into an efficient organisation"
 real 28k

Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Bush names new FBI chief
FBI headquarters
Mr Bush wants to rein in the independent-minded FBI
US President George W Bush has nominated Robert Mueller, the US Attorney for the Northern District of California, to be director of the FBI.


He assumes great responsibilities, he was chosen with great care, and he has my confidence

President Bush
Mr Bush announced the decision during an event in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday.

The appointment is being seen as an attempt to restore the agency's battered reputation after a string of highly embarrassing blunders.

Mr Mueller, who served as acting deputy attorney-general from January to May of this year, also worked in the US Justice Department under former President George Bush, the father of the current president.

Robert Mueller
Mueller is said to have a tough, no-nonsense style
"He assumes great responsibilities, he was chosen with great care, and he has my confidence," the president said.

Decorated during the Vietnam War, Mr Mueller is said to be known for his tough, no-nonsense managerial style.

His nomination had been expected since last month, when Mr Bush abruptly ordered the search for an FBI chief expanded.

If approved by the Senate he will replace Louis Freeh, who surprised observers on 1 May by announcing his resignation well in advance of the end of his term in 2003.

FBI under fire

Mr Freeh did not give specific reasons for his decision to leave, but he had been the target of criticism following the arrest in February of Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent accused of working for Moscow for more than 15 years.

The FBI has had more than its fair share of public relations disasters over the last decade.

Louis Freeh
Freeh resigned long before his term ended
It has faced allegations of a cover-up after the 1993 fateful siege at Waco.

It was accused of arresting the wrong man in the bombing of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and of mis-handling the case against a nuclear scientist accused of selling secrets to China.

And the announcement that the FBI had failed to deliver thousands of documents in the Timothy McVeigh case left Americans wondering if the agency could do anything right.

Lockerbie role

BBC Washington correspondent Jonny Dymond says Mr Mueller has experience of the kind of high profile cases that the FBI deals with.

In the criminal justice division of the justice department, he led the investigations into the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Mr Bush said that Mr Mueller was ready to take on the tough challenges facing the FBI.

"The FBI must remain independent of politics and uncompromising in its mission," he said.

"Bob Mueller's experience and character convinced me that he's ready to shoulder these responsibilities."

But observers say the White House is seeking to rein in the independent-minded FBI and the president, aides said, wanted a director who defers to the Justice Department.

Mr Mueller was the strongest candidate to fit this bill - he won the support of Attorney-General John Ashcroft by aiding in the transition from the Clinton administration.

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See also:

05 Jul 01 | Americas
FBI chief's long CV
12 May 01 | Americas
McVeigh shows FBI 'in turmoil'
21 Jul 00 | Americas
Inquiry clears FBI of Waco blame
30 May 01 | Americas
Embassy bombs: The FBI trail
31 May 01 | Americas
FBI agent denies spying
01 May 01 | Americas
FBI chief steps down
24 Mar 01 | Americas
FBI veterans face lie detector test
20 Feb 01 | Americas
Who's being spied on?
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