The Top Unmentioned Obama Replacement: Robert Mueller

A slew of second-term cabinet speculation articles have come out (National Journal, first posted before the election, and NYT and USAT today).

And while they seem to indicate Jack Lew is likely to replace TurboTaxTimmeh Geithner and Secretary of State will be the subject of active speculation for some time (with intriguing speculation that Howard Berman, who lost to Brad Sherman in CA, might be under consideration), one key role–albeit not of cabinet level–is missing:

FBI Director.

After all, Robert Mueller is already 2 years beyond his sell by date; Obama extended his term to get past the election (he said). And regardless of rank, the FBI Director is one of the most important figures in the increasingly powerful surveillance state.

And there have been some very troubling names mentioned in discussions to replace him, including NYPD’s Ray Kelly, who would really be the second incarnation of J Edgar Hoover’s abusive power. There had been speculation that Patrick Fitzgerald wanted the job, but his decision to join Skadden Arps just before the election suggests he knew he wasn’t going to get that job.

Particularly given Eric Holder’s apparent increasing doubt that he’ll stick around, we have the possibility of seeing something worse–all the capitulation we got from Holder in the first term, plus and FBI Director who has none of the claimed measure of Mueller (though I’ve always had my doubts about those claims).

A new FBI Director (which is guaranteed), particularly if it came with a new Attorney General, could either set a dramatic new course or harden in the old course. And I fear it is most likely to be the latter.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

13 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    I feel your fear, Marcy.

    Given the Senate GOP’s intransigence when it comes to dealing with nominees, my gut tells me Obama will be sending some rightleaning — if not outright conservative — nominees up to the Hill, in order to get a promise that the GOP will perhaps think about maybe possibly allowing a short debate on some minor form of tax changes.

  2. TarheelDem says:

    In the disturbing coincidence category, I hear that Joe Lieberman is leaving the Senate. And it’s just about time for another Petraeus move. Ray Kelly’s not from Chicago; it couldn’t be him.

    Who is there out there who could do the job and also exorcise the ghost of J Edgar?

  3. joanneleon says:

    Ray Kelly? It’s hard to shock me anymore. But that would be a shocker and a punch in the gut. It would also be very telling about the planned course of action toward protesters. Since the ties between NYPD and CIA are so strong, it’s another way to spread the influence of the CIA to yet another organization. Wasn’t it someone from the FBI who said that the ties between the CIA and the NYPD were problematic?

    Well, Kelly has been acting like the whole country is his jurisdiction anyway, so… maybe he knew he was getting the job and was just practicin’.

    If Kamala Harris gets the job as AG, that would make sense. It was clear that she was promised something big for her spectacular sell out on the fraudulent mortgage settlement and it proved that she’ll do what she’s told if it’s in her own personal interest.

    Also, I am pretty shocked that Patrick Fitzgerald went to work for Wall Street’s biggest law firm. I didn’t see that coming. I guess I still have old, delusional ideas about him.

  4. Jim White says:

    Maybe they can bring Timoney back from Bahrain to run the FBI since he did such a great job cutting off rights there. And he’s just so good with that business of provoking and entrapping. He’ll be right at home cooking up new terrorist plots. In fact he even tried to claim today the latest bombs in Bahrain were from Hezbollah. Sounds like a job application to me.

  5. P J Evans says:

    Berman was endorsed by Grumpy McCain, Miss Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lierman, so it’s a pretty safe assumption that he’d dearly love to bomb Iran.
    I don’t want him anywhere near the State Department.

  6. joanneleon says:

    @allan: Yes, that’s a good point about Schneiderman, though I thought maybe he was after an elected office. Seems like he will get something. But was he loyal enough? You have to be really, really loyal or this admin will use you and toss you aside in a heartbeat.

  7. orionATL says:

    i kind of thought eric schneiderman had reached a deal with chicago mayor
    cum american president obama when the
    trusty, caring ny attny gen folded under pressure from the w-house on the issue of amnesty from prosecution
    for the banksters.

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