FBI supervisors angered over plan to extend Mueller term

posted at 3:29 pm on May 20, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, when the White House floated the idea of giving FBI Director Robert Mueller a two-year extension rather than shuffle all of the top national-security positions at once, I wrote that the proposal would probably not generate a lot of opposition on Capitol Hill.  Granted, it would be another case of the Obama administration kicking a tough decision down the road, but Mueller’s tenure has generally garnered solid praise in his ten-year term.  Rather than face a potentially divisive confirmation hearing on a new nominee, a two-year extension would allow a potential Republican President to appoint the next director.

However, FBI supervisors working under Mueller get treated far differently — and are now loudly objecting to what they see as Obama administration hypocrisy:

President Obama’s plan to keep FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in office beyond his 10-year term has triggered an angry reaction among some agents, who say Muel­ler imposed term limits on hundreds of supervisors in the agency but is failing to abide by legal limits set on his own tenure. …

The FBI’s policy, which is unusual among law enforcement agencies, was adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Known as “up or out,’’ it requires FBI supervisors to leave their posts after seven years and compete for other managerial jobs, retire or accept a demotion in the same field office with lower pay.

FBI officials say the term limits have brought strong managers into hundreds of positions created in the years after Sept. 11. But the plan to retain Mueller has revived long-simmering tensions over the policy, which some say has robbed the bureau of veteran supervisors who retired because they did not get promoted. …

“People are up in arms about this,’’ said one agent, who likened the news to “a shot in the kneecaps.’’

“We have lost valuable experience,’’ the agent said. “I’ve seen people, some really significant contributors to this organization and to this country, who are questioning their self-worth now and who are basically bitter.’’

This does put a new light on the proposal.  If Mueller has been forcing supervisors to honor a form of a term limit by either taking less pay or retiring, then it makes little sense to extend to Mueller a courtesy that Mueller doesn’t himself extend.  The aim of the Obama proposal — to keep Mueller’s expertise in harness while making changes elsewhere — would almost certainly apply to areas within the FBI as well.  And while it’s good to get fresh blood into supervisory positions, one has to wonder why that wouldn’t also apply at the very top of the organization as well.

Furthermore, this calls into question whether the White House did any research on how an extension for Mueller would be received internally.  Did they even know about this policy?  If they did, it doesn’t appear that they bothered to take it into consideration, a particularly foolish choice in terms of morale support within an agency tasked with both law enforcement and national security.

Given this information, the White House should just do its job and find a replacement for Mueller rather than try to pass the buck.


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The adults are in charge!
/crr6

Vanceone on May 20, 2011 at 3:32 PM

What I’ve always liked about Obama was his willingness to really make a decision and defend it…consequences be damned!

/s

search4truth on May 20, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Some companies in the private sector expect a 10% turnover every year. If if doesn’t happen by the employees themselves, they send up to 10% to the door.

J_Crater on May 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Obama has far more important things to do right now. My guess is, destressing by doing a lil putting on the oval office floor.

capejasmine on May 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM

Given this information, the White House should just do its job and find a replacement for Mueller rather than try to pass the buck.

they will just double down once again…

cmsinaz on May 20, 2011 at 3:39 PM

However, FBI supervisors working under Mueller get treated far differently — and are now loudly objecting to what they see as Obama administration hypocrisy:

In this case, I think they’re actually objecting to Mueller’s hypocrisy.

Big John on May 20, 2011 at 3:40 PM

This tells me that little Bammie has some prog knuckledragger in mind for this spot, but doesn’t want the fight to seat him/her until after the election.

slickwillie2001 on May 20, 2011 at 3:40 PM

The FBI’s up-or-out policy may or may not make sense, but it has no real bearing on whether Mueller’s term is extended.

The internal carping is the same thing you get from employees who bitch at how much money teh CEO makes or teachers comparing their salary and benefits to the superintendent’s during contract negotiations. It is an apple-to-oranges comparison.

Monkeytoe on May 20, 2011 at 3:53 PM

“We have lost valuable experience,” the agent said. “I’ve seen people, some really significant contributors to this organization and to this country, who are questioning their self-worth now and who are basically bitter.”

They might rightfully question their worth to the FBI, but why their self-worth?

SukieTawdry on May 20, 2011 at 3:56 PM

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Nothing to see here… move along…

Khun Joe on May 20, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Of course the White House knew. And if you did deep enough, you’ll find that Barry has been getting his homies emplaced in those ‘supervisory positions’.

GarandFan on May 20, 2011 at 4:01 PM

The security of the land is far more important than the emotions of some supervisors who saw themselves in the top slot. He’s been an exceptionally good FBI director.

As to the Obama incompetence, oh well, another moment in another day…

Schadenfreude on May 20, 2011 at 4:04 PM

it requires FBI supervisors to leave their posts after seven years and compete for other managerial jobs, retire or accept a demotion in the same field office with lower pay.

That sounds like an anti-experience rule. That is not good at all. In supervisor positions, you don’t want the the people who know what they are doing to just leave and move to the private sector because there was not a good opening for them at the right time. Idiocy!

jeffn21 on May 20, 2011 at 4:07 PM

“… a particularly foolish choice in terms of morale support within an agency tasked with both law enforcement and national security.”

Obowma could care less…

… his actions prove it everyday.

Seven Percent Solution on May 20, 2011 at 4:11 PM

No one is irreplacable. Rules are rules and Mueller should go.

Dukeboy01 on May 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Is Mueller asking for the extension? If not where is the hypocrisy?

marinetbryant on May 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM

Some companies in the private sector expect a 10% turnover every year. If if doesn’t happen by the employees themselves, they send up to 10% to the door.

J_Crater on May 20, 2011 at 3:37 PM

I believe you can thank Jack Welch for that idea. He was a strong propopent of cutting the “bottom 10%”. So even if your entire staff is excellent, someone’s always the bottom 10% and cut. It’s a stupid idea that does nothing but encourage your best to leave before someone decides they’re up next for cutting.

darury on May 20, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Nothing wrong with a “up or out” policy. Works for the military. Competition breeds excellence, in most cases.

As to Mueller, if it’s not his idea, I suppose that means serving at the pleasure of the President.

Seems to be a mole hill looking to become a mountain.

Hog Wild on May 20, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Umm, how is this a problem? IF this is a 10 year appointment, why get stuck with a bammie person here if bammie wants to kick this can down the road until the next term of the POTUS starts? I am sure Sarah Palin has someone well qualified in mind

/ smirk

karenhasfreedom on May 20, 2011 at 5:18 PM

Why does an organization make a blanket policy of up or out? Why not on a case by case basis. Why would you move a good man out to promote another. Sometimes you can’t go any higher than where you’re at.

Vince on May 20, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Is Mueller asking for the extension? If not where is the hypocrisy?

marinetbryant on May 20, 2011 at 4:22 PM

If he’s open to the possibility of an extension, that makes him a hypocrite, because he’s been draconian on the subject in-house.

unclesmrgol on May 20, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Sheesh, you all act like the FBI is a business.
It’s a police agency. They investigate crimes, not sell widgets. There is no comparison to the military, private enterprise, or anything else in government service.
I’ve never heard of any other police agency in the country that has an up-or-out policy. Probably because forcing good people who are at the top of their game to either promote out of what they do best or retire isn’t in the best interest of the public.
This policy should be rescinded forthwith and Director Mueller should retire on time. Remember, unlike the agents who are trained at great expense and spend many years perfecting the craft, the director is a political appointee with little or no “investment” in the agency. The true leadership is down the line, and they’re getting yanked around by things like “up or out.”

n0doz on May 20, 2011 at 8:48 PM

Should have been fired after 9/11. John O’Neill rest in peace.

AshleyTKing on May 20, 2011 at 9:05 PM

I believe you can thank Jack Welch for that idea. He was a strong propopent of cutting the “bottom 10%”. So even if your entire staff is excellent, someone’s always the bottom 10% and cut. It’s a stupid idea
darury on May 20, 2011 at 4:37 PM

Yeah, ol’ Neutron Jack wanted to build factory ships and drive them outside US territorial waters. I understand the frustration with taxes and regulations, and I’m sure the serfs employees would’ve been paid a decent wage and complaints referred to the sharks taken seriously.

And while it’s good to get fresh blood into supervisory positions, one has to wonder why that wouldn’t also apply at the very top of the organization as well.

Because elites are always exempt from the hardships they impose on others.

Feedie on May 21, 2011 at 1:57 AM

I heard that some years ago there was a high ranking FBI official that was passed over for promotion to Director. In retaliation he became “Deep Throat” and leaked selective information to a couple of WaPo reporters.

You might have heard about it? The guy was Mark Felt and his “leaks” to compliant reporters brought us Watergate.

Does Obama know about that?

schmuck281 on May 21, 2011 at 3:39 AM