Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Blog
After placing a hold on a two-year extension of current FBI Director Robert Mueller’s term, freshman Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has decided to drop his objection to a vote in the Senate. The Senator has been clear that he placed the hold to force Mueller to come to Capitol Hill and answer questions regarding the USA PATRIOT Act, abortion, and a Kentucky-based terrorism case. Though Senator Paul dropped his objection after Mueller’s visit to the hill, the Senator nevertheless announced he will still not vote to extend the sitting Director’s term - citing a belief in protecting the current term limit scheme.
According to Roll Call, the Senate passed the legislation on Thursday, despite the freshman Senator’s reservations, by a voice vote that would extend FBI Director Mueller’s term by two years. Aides close to Senator Paul have been clear that it was not the Senator’s intention to block the vote, but rather to compel testimony.
Roll Call reports that “Mueller’s 10-year term expires in August, and the bill to extend it by two years is part one of a two-part agreement. The Senate will also hold a confirmation vote after both chambers clear the bill.” Roll Call also claims that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said in remarks on the Senate floor Thursday that the vote was forthcoming.
The Senate vote comes despite significant public pressure from outside civil rights groups. Led by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), many of the groups have argued to Congressional leaders that under Director Mueller’s leadership, the FBI has frequently violated the rights of diverse law-abiding Americans, abused its investigative powers, and failed to abide by its own guidelines.
Civil rights groups have also expressed serious concerns regarding the arbitrarily-revised guidelines they claim are permitting longstanding abuses even in the face of congressional concerns, as well as the FBI’s lack of public accountability and tendency to cloak its actions in secrecy. For our part, AAI continues to monitor the legislation closely, and is similarly concerned about the FBI Director’s tendency to ignore important civil liberty concerns.