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FBI chief Robert Mueller plans to serve out his term under either Obama or McCain

October 22, 2008 |  4:47 pm

Robert S. Mueller III, the FBI director who has been at the center of debates over wiretapping and other civil-liberties-related issues arising from President Bush's war on terror, plans to serve out his 10-year appointment, according to Reuters. That means he would be on the job well into the next president's administration. FBI Director William Mueller

Mueller's stint expires in September 2011. He took the job Sept. 4, 2001, just one week before the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States that forced the FBI to shift its focus and pour more resources into preventing terrorism.

Within federal law enforcement circles, many were wondering whether Mueller would resign to enable the next president to name a new FBI head. But according to FBI spokesman Richard Kolko, Mueller asked his aides Tuesday to "stop the rumors about me leaving."

Reuters has more on Mueller.

The most recent long-serving director before Mueller, Louis Freeh, was appointed by President Clinton during his first year in office and stepped aside during Bush's first year. But before that, directors routinely stayed in the post long after the president who appointed them had departed.

William Webster, for instance, was selected by President Carter to head the FBI and started in February 1978. He served until May 1987 -- deep into President Reagan's second term.

This precedent was established by the legendary J. Edgar Hoover. Named by President Coolidge in 1924 to replace a scandal-scarred predecessor, he kept the job -- indeed, became untouchable -- under seven other presidents. It became vacant again only when he died in 1972, during President Nixon's administration.

-- Kate Linthicum

Photo credit: Associated Press