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White House Wants To Extend FBI Director

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

To Washington now, where the White House is asking Congress to extend the tenure of FBI Director Robert Mueller.

As NPR's Carrie Johnson reports, Mueller's term had been set to expire in September, but President Obama wants him to stick around until 2013.

CARRIE JOHNSON: Robert Mueller became FBI director only a week before the September 11th attacks. Since then, he's labored to get agents to gather intelligence and anticipate terrorist threats in advance. It's one of the hardest jobs in government: sleepless nights with few public rewards. The White House says it's grateful Mueller has agreed to stay at a time of rapid change in the national security ranks.

Here's spokesman Jay Carney talking to reporters today.

Mr. JAY CARNEY (White House Press Secretary): Remember we have a change at CIA. We have a change at the Defense Department. This willingness of Director Mueller to continue to serve for two more years helps provide continuity which is important.

JOHNSON: The decision requires approval from Congress, but lawmakers from both political parties are already expressing support, so is the Justice Department. In a recent interview with NPR, Attorney General Eric Holder said nobody does it better.

Mr. ERIC HOLDER (Attorney General): Bob Mueller, I think, has been a great director in that he's understood both what his responsibilities are and what the limits are to that job.

JOHNSON: Holder and Vice President Joe Biden had been leading the search for Mueller's replacement. It hasn't been easy. A couple of high-profile candidates, Judge Merrick Garland and former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, said they weren't interested.

Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.