The FBI Doesn't Shuffle

FBI Director Robert Mueller was supposed to be part of the big national-security-team shuffle as various faces depart government and shift positions. But President Obama doesn’t want to shake things up quite that much. The administration has gotten Mueller to agree to stay in his post for another two years (he’s been at the head of the FBI for ten years, starting the job a week before September 11). The extension just needs to be run by Congress—the director’s term limit is set by federal law. And the forecast is looking pretty good. When he heard about the choice, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, for one, said, “While the threat from al-Qaeda continues, and as the President makes necessary shifts in his national security team, I was delighted when President Obama informed me that he has asked Director Mueller to stay on at the Bureau for an additional two years.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein agreed. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the decision had nothing to do with politics: “If was about politics and the president wanted to nominate his own . . . he would do that now.”

As the fight between rebels and Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s troops in Libya continues to rage, a senior leader of the opposition movement is in Washington today for talks with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. Mahmud Jibril is looking for recognition and aid in the fight against Qaddafi’s forces. The opposition’s National Transitional Council has already been recognized by the likes of France, Italy and Qatar, but the United States has not yet dubbed the body the only legitimate voice of the people. Carney said it’s a bit “premature” to recognize the NTC “as the official government of Libya.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan is standing Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, up. Mullen’s Pakistani counterpart, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, canceled a visit to Washington that was scheduled for May 22-27. Pakistan reportedly cited the “prevailing environment” for the decision, alluding to the continued tensions stirred up by the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Islamabad also announced that it would be reconsidering its counterterrorism cooperation with the United States. Both moves come shortly before Senator John Kerry is set to leave for Pakistan on a relationship-mending mission.

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke about another bit of fallout from the operation. The members of the SEAL team that actually carried out the raid are worried about their safety and the safety of their families. When the operation took place, it was agreed that the administration wouldn’t reveal “any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden,” Gates commented. But “that all fell apart on Monday—the next day.” The defense secretary said that the administration is working on ways to provide more security for the team. The media spotlight has been focused on the elusive Team Six since the raid, and many reporters have gone to their base in Virginia to try to get them on the record.