Statement of Senator Orrin G. Hatch

Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on the Nomination of

Robert S. Mueller, III to be FBI Director

One of the greatest pleasures of working on the Judiciary Committee is reviewing a nominee for high office who not only has extraordinary qualifications but also is a perfect fit for the job to which he or she has been nominated. Of course, this Committee reviews a lot of candidates who are qualified, competent and dedicated to public service. But once in a while, a nominee comes along who exhibits an extra measure of fitness for the job. We have such a nominee before the committee today in Robert S. Mueller, III. It is hard to imagine anyone whose unquestioned experience, good character and reputation would so perfectly match with the requirements of his new position.

I do not say this lightly. I consider the FBI to one of the most important agencies of the government, and the post of FBI Director to be one of the most consequential in the world. The FBI Director is trusted to command huge resources that touch the lives of people around the globe. He is charged with protecting the most important resource in America – our people – against criminal activity that is increasingly sophisticated and resourceful. And the Director holds a term – ten years – that exceeds that of any elected federal representative, and is two years longer than any president can serve in office. The Director thus has great power and great insulation from the popular will – a combination that requires this Committee to be especially vigilant in its confirmation review. But after examining Bob Mueller’s record, meeting with him privately, and hearing from many people who know him, I am extremely pleased that President Bush has chosen Bob Mueller for this position. I have the utmost confidence that Mr. Mueller has the judgment, integrity and dedication to purpose that will make for an excellent FBI Director.

Mr. Mueller’s Background

Mr. Mueller is a decorated military hero who has spent most of his professional career prosecuting criminals and earning a reputation for no-nonsense management. As I recently reviewed his responses to the Committee questionnaire, I was particularly struck by two items on his long list of professional accomplishments. The first is his military record, a matter about which I was not previously aware. During the Vietnam war, Mr. Mueller served as a rifle platoon commander and, eventually, as an aide-de-camp to the Commanding General of the Third Marine Division. He was awarded the Bronze Star, 2 Navy Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. And his military service did not end there. After the war, Mr. Mueller served in the Marine Corps Reserve until 1980, achieving the rank of Captain.

The second particularly notable item is that in 1995, after two years as the senior partner in distinguished firm of Hale and Dorr, Mr. Mueller left to join the homicide section of the U.S. Attorneys office in the District of Columbia. When I saw that, I was reminded, a bit, of a man whom all of us admired a great deal (even though some of us disagreed with his clients on certain issues): Charles Ruff, who died last year. Chuck also left a prestigious firm – Covington and Burling – in the early 1990s to serve his community – in his case, as D.C. corporation counsel. I think the move was Chuck’s way of giving something back, even though he had already given a great deal to the American people. And it also seems to me that Mr. Mueller’s record of service to community and to country is one that anyone would be very proud of.

Mr. Mueller graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1973, after which he spent three years working on small litigation matters as an associate at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro in San Francisco. He left in 1976 to become an Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, first in the civil division and later in the criminal division. There he tried cases involving narcotics, money laundering, tax evasion, bank robbery, and major fraud. He also spent nine months prosecuting the Hells Angles motorcycle club. He rose in the ranks to become supervisor of the Special Prosecutions Unit and then interim Chief of the Criminal Division.

In 1982, Mr. Mueller transferred to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston, Massachusetts, as Chief of the Criminal Division. For the next six years, he prosecuted narcotics, public corruption, and espionage cases, among others. And he served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney, as the court-appointed U.S. Attorney, and then as Deputy U.S. Attorney. In 1988 he joined the firm of Hill and Barlow as a litigation partner. During his ten months there, he practiced civil law including contract disputes and some criminal defense.

Mr. Mueller became an Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh in May 1989. His focus was advising the A.G. on criminal matters. He also served as the liaison between the A.G.’s office and the FBI, the DEA, and other federal agencies.

President Bush nominated Mr. Mueller in September 1990 to be the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. He served in that position until 1993, handling the high-profile investigation of Pan Am 103, the prosecutions of Gotti and Noriega, and the BCCI and BNL matters.

In 1993, he became a senior partner in the Washington office of the Boston firm Hale and Dorr. As I mentioned earlier, he gave up that prestigious and lucrative position in 1995 to join the homicide section of the District of Columbia’s U.S. Attorney’s office. He tried a number of cases there, and became chief of the homicide unit in 1996.

In August 1998, the Justice Department asked him to serve as the interim U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, where he turned a troubled office around and rebuilt it into one of the nation’s best. Under his leadership, the number of criminal prosecutions nearly doubled in two years. He increased the office’s focus on environmental crime and public corruption. And he showed himself to be a visionary leader in developing governmental responses to the burgeoning area of computer crime. He was later nominated and confirmed as U.S. Attorney there, where he supervises 100 attorneys. From January until May 2001, he served as the Acting Deputy Attorney General.

By any measure, Mr. Mueller’s resume alone makes him an excellent candidate to be FBI Director. But the icing on this cake is the reputation he has earned while holding those jobs. Mr. Mueller has earned a reputation for, among other things, a no-nonsense toughness when it comes to managing an office.

Current FBI Challenges

There is no doubt that Mr. Mueller will need to muster all of his experience, training, and character to execute his new assignment. He will step into the FBI – an organization of over 27,800 employees – at a time of some disruption caused by several high-profile embarrassments, including the handling of the McVeigh documents, the belated discovery of the Hanssen spy case, and the troubled Wen Ho Lee investigation. Regardless of whether these incidents are isolated rather than systemic, they will nevertheless prove challenging – if for no other reason, because they have garnered significant public attention and fueled concern.

Director Freeh’s Legacy and Attorney General Ashcroft’s Support

Of course, Mr. Mueller will not be starting from scratch and will not be working alone. He will be the inheritor of the hard work of another extraordinary public servant, Director Louis Freeh. Director Freeh accomplished a great deal during his tenure to modernize and restructure the FBI so it can handle the challenges of the future. He reinvigorated the Bureau with the core values of obedience to the Constitution, respect for all those it protects, compassion, fairness, and uncompromising integrity. He also made specific reforms in the area of ethics. In 1996, Mr. Freeh established a new Office of Law Enforcement Ethics and enhanced ethics training at the Bureau. In 1997, he established an enhanced and independent Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate allegations of employee misconduct. And in 1998, he opened this issue to the public by beginning the practice of releasing to the news media annual reports on disciplinary actions taken by the OPR.

Director Freeh’s legacy goes far beyond these specific actions. His tenure will be noted for the successful investigation and resolution of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995, the so-called Unibomber case, and the Embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998. Even more profound – and largely ignored by the media and the public – are the preventative successes under Director Freeh’s watch. Between October 1993 and October 1999, the FBI prevented more than 40 potential acts of terrorism, including the planned detonation of two enormous propane gas tanks near Sacramento, California, which could have resulted in over 12,000 deaths. Other notable projects of Director Freeh’s in the area of national security include the creation of the National Infrastructure Protection Center, the Strategic Information Operations Center, the Counterterrorism Division, the Weapons of Mass Destruction Operations Unit, and the National Domestic Preparedness Office.

The list of Director Freeh’s other accomplishments would go on and on. His successes in several areas are too numerous to mention, including the areas of violent crime, organized crime, drug trafficking, health care fraud, crimes against children, and civil rights. He also significantly improved the Bureau’s training programs, relationship with the CIA, and coordination with foreign governments. As you can tell, I am a big fan of Director Freeh and the great work he did as FBI Director. And I am confident that his legacies will in many ways enable Mr. Mueller to achieve even greater things in the future.

Another tremendous advantage Mr. Mueller will have is the support of the Bush Administration and of Attorney General Ashcroft in particular. Attorney General Ashcroft has already demonstrated his genuine concern for, and dedication to, the FBI by taking dramatic and important steps to remedy some of the perceived challenges I mentioned a minute ago. For example, Attorney General Ashcroft established an independent review board headed by William Webster to examine the FBI’s procedures, including security measures, in the wake of the Hanssen case. He recently contracted with Arthur Anderson to conduct a management study of the FBI. And he expanded the jurisdiction of the Justice Department’s Inspector General to include oversight over the FBI – an important step in ensuring the integrity of the Bureau and its employees. These actions demonstrate that Attorney General Ashcroft is determined to uncover any opportunities to improve the FBI and is determined to assist Mr. Mueller in taking the Bureau to new heights.

FBI Review Commission Act

I hope and expect that Congress will be another source of support for Mr. Mueller. Of course, Congress – and this Committee in particular – has an important oversight role that should and must involve asking tough questions and demanding complete answers. But Congress should be careful to act in ways that encourage positive change and avoid distracting the Bureau from its mission. One tool I want to give to the new Director is the benefit of an independent review of the agency by outside experts from a variety of fields. I have joined with Senator Schumer in sponsoring the Schumer-Hatch FBI Review Commission Act of 2001, which would establish a mechanism for a first rate group of experts from a variety of fields like management, technology, intelligence and others to do a thorough review of the FBI and make strategic recommendations to the new Director for improvements. Such an independent group, with no turf to protect or axes to grind, could really help bring the best practices of the corporate and scientific worlds to bear on the challenges currently facing the FBI.

I know there will be a lot of suggestions for improvements to the FBI. Some are underway, others are being developed. We in Congress are right to scrutinize the plans for reform and to be vigilant in our oversight. We will not blindly accept changes, but will question and test them to ensure they will address the problems which exist. Through this process, and by working in collaboration with the Justice Department and the new FBI Director, I hope Congress will prove to be a constructive part of a revitalization of the FBI.

Focus on Future Success

One of the reasons why the FBI’s public image has been harmed by the recent stories is that, when the FBI does its job well, we never hear about it. This is the nature of law enforcement work in general, and of the FBI’s in particular. The newspaper headlines will never read "Millions of Americans Slept Safely Again Last Night." The Washington Post will never publish a story proclaiming that "Another Day Passes Without Nuclear Terror in any U.S. City." Nevertheless, the main focus of the FBI is to prevent crime by gathering intelligence, compiling evidence, and assisting in prosecutions. It is my sincere hope and expectation that, during the next few months and throughout Mr. Mueller’s term as Director, all of the various parties with an interest in the FBI will maintain this focus on crime prevention and will measure their words and actions against the goal of ensuring future success.


I applaud President Bush for his choice of Bob Mueller to be FBI Director. He is a principled and dedicated public servant with a proven record in law enforcement and management. His no-nonsense style has served him well and has helped him inspire others to do their best work for the American people. I have every confidence that he will prove to be an excellent FBI Director.

I thank the Chairman for this hearing, and I urge the Committee and the full Senate to move forward with Mr. Mueller’s confirmation with all deliberate speed.

# # # #