FBI Mueller’s Full Statement Before Judiciary: “FBI Has Never Faced a More Complex Threat Environment”

By Allan Lengel

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III began the process on Wednesday of getting a two- year extension when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Committee is considering a bill that would extend his stay two years beyond the 10-year term, which expires in September.

Currently legislation limits the term of an FBI director to 10 years, a move that was taken after J. Edgar Hoover died. Many thought Hoover had stayed on too long and gathered too much political power.

The following is Mueller’s statement before the Judiciary Committee:

Good morning Chairman Leahy, Ranking Member Grassley, and members of the committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee today.

As you know, my term as FBI Director is due to expire later this summer. In early May, the president asked if I would be willing to serve an additional two years, and I told him I would be honored to do so.

The president has further asked that Congress pass the legislation necessary to extend my term, and the committee is considering that legislation at today’s hearing. If my term is extended, I look forward to working with the committee and the men and women of the FBI to meet the challenges that face us in the years to come.

The FBI has never faced a more complex threat environment than it does today. Over the past year, we have seen an extraordinary array of national security and criminal threats, from terrorism and espionage to cyber attacks and traditional crimes. These threats have ranged from attempts by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to place bombs on airplanes bound for the United States to lone actors seeking to detonate IEDs in public squares and subways, intent on mass murder.

A month ago, the successful operation in Pakistan leading to Usama bin Laden’s death created new urgency for this threat picture. While we continue to exploit the materials seized from bin Laden’s compound, one of the early assessments from this intelligence is that Al Qaeda remains committed to attacking the United States. In addition, we are focused on the new information about the homeland threat gained from this operation.

We also continue to face the threat from adversaries, like Anwar Alaqui, who are engaged in efforts to radicalize people in the United States to commit acts of terrorism. In the age of the Internet, these radicalizing figures no longer need to meet or speak personally with those they seek to influence. Instead, they conduct their media campaigns from remote regions of the world, intent on fostering terrorism by lone actors here in the United States.

Alongside these ever-evolving terrorism plots, the espionage threat persists as well. Last summer, there were the arrests of 10 Russian spies, known as “illegals,” who secretly blended into American society in order to clandestinely gather information for Russia. And we continue to make significant arrests for economic espionage as foreign interests seek to steal controlled technologies.

The cyber intrusion at Google last year highlights the ever-present danger from a sophisticated Internet-attack, Along with countless other cyber incidents, these attacks threaten to undermine the integrity of the Internet and to victimize the businesses and people who rely on it.

In our criminal investigations, the FBI continues to uncover massive corporate and mortgage frauds that weaken the financial system and victimize investors, homeowners, and ultimately taxpayers. We are also rooting out insidious health care scams involving false billings and fake treatments that endanger patients and fleece government health care programs.

The violence in Mexico remains a threat for the United States, as we saw with the murder of three individuals connected to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez in March 2010 and the shooting earlier this year of two DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Mexico.

And throughout, we are confronted with instances of corruption that undermine the public trust and violent gangs that continue to take innocent lives.

In this threat environment, the FBI’s mission to protect the American people has never been broader and the demands on the FBI have never been greater.

To carry out this mission, the FBI has taken significant steps since 9/11 to transform itself in to a threat-based, intelligence-led agency. This new approach has driven changes in the Bureau’s structure and management; our recruitment, hiring, and training; our information technology systems; and even our cultural mindset. These changes have transformed the Bureau into a national security organization that fuses traditional law enforcement and intelligence missions. As this transformation continues, the FBI remains committed to upholding the Constitution and the rule of law and protecting civil liberties.

Of course, the FBI’s transformation is not complete, as we must continually evolve to meet the ever-changing threats of today and tomorrow. If my term is extended, I look forward to working with the committee and the men and women of the FBI to continue the Bureau’s transformation in the years to come.

Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley, let me conclude by thanking you and the committee on behalf of all FBI employees for your continued support of the FBI and its mission throughout my tenure. The committee has been an essential part of our transformation and has directly contributed to our ability to meet today’s increasingly diverse threats.

I look forward to any questions you may have.

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