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IN THE NEWS - August 4, 2001: New FBI Director - 2001-08-03

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, In The News.

America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation has a new director. He is a former Marine who served with honors in the Vietnam War. On Thursday the Senate confirmed President Bush's choice of Robert Mueller to lead the F-B-I.

Mister Mueller is a lawyer in the Justice Department, which includes the F-B-I. He also held a high-level Justice Department job under President Bush's father.

Now Mister Mueller will begin a ten-year term as director of the nation's top law enforcement agency. Almost thirty-thousand men and women work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. More than eleven-thousand of them are special agents. They investigate hundreds of kinds of federal cases. These include organized crime, spying and international terrorism.

A Senate committee held hearings this week on Mister Mueller's nomination. He answered questions about how he would lead the agency. Mostly the senators expressed concern about a series of problems at the F-B-I.

These include the discovery of an agent who, for most of his twenty-five years at the F-B-I, spied for the Soviet Union and Russia. Robert Hanssen sold information at the same time he supervised other agents in the hunt for spies in the United States. He faces a life term at his sentencing in January.

The F-B-I was also sharply criticized this year in the case of Timothy McVeigh, the admitted bomber of a federal building in Oklahoma City. The F-B-I had thousands of documents that his lawyers should have received for his trial. That discovery led to a month-long postponement of McVeigh’s execution.

And, just recently, the F-B-I announced that hundreds of its weapons and computers had been lost or stolen. At least one computer contained secret information.

The new F-B-I director replaces Louis Freeh who resigned. Robert Mueller promised during his confirmation hearings that he would move quickly to improve the F-B-I. He said his main goal would be for the agency to re-earn the trust of the American people. He said the F-B-I must not try to hide mistakes or blame others. "Nobody is perfect," Mister Mueller told the Senate committee. He said the F-B-I “must tell the truth and let the facts speak for themselves.”

He noted the successful investigations of terrorist bombings at the World Trade Center in New York and two American embassies in Africa.

Robert Mueller is leaving his job as head of the United States Attorney's Office in San Francisco, California. That office had serious problems before he took over. He carried out a major re-organization. He put more women and minorities into leadership positions. More cases came to trial. Judges, federal agents and defense lawyers all praised his work.

This VOA Special English program, IN THE NEWS, was written by Caty Weaver. This is Steve Ember.