You probably haven't noticed, but FBI Director Robert Mueller has become the longest-serving top G-man since J. Edgar Hoover, along the way forever changing the agency from a domestic police shop to a worldwide anti-crime and anti-terrorism network.
But there's a problem: He's about to be forced into retirement, coming up to his 10-year term limit in September. If President Obama knows what's good for him, suggests author and Washingtonian editor Garrett Graff, he might find a good spot for this long-time public servant. That's because Mueller, with little fanfare but tremendous effectiveness, has revamped the agency he took over seven days before the 9/11 attacks, guiding it into the murky world of terrorism and doing it legally and in a way even foes of the agency applaud.
That and more Graff details in his new book out Monday, The Threat Matrix, The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror, a 666-page investigation that's bound to hit blockbuster status for the details it reveals. Such as:
-- How probes into wildcat FBI operations in the past ended up limiting the FBI's investigation of al Qaeda.
-- New details about the terrorist plot that targeted President Obama's inauguration and just how seriously the U.S. government took it—including dispatching a polygraph team to Uganda to meet with a witness and chasing a suspect through London's Heathrow airport in the days before the inauguration.
-- The FBI's role in Iraq, their interrogation of Saddam Hussein after his capture, and the Bureau's role in securing the release of kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll.
Graff had unusual access to officials and documents, conducting 1,000 hours of interviews, even 20 with the reclusive Mueller, who he profiled for Washingtonian in 2008.
His conclusion: "The FBI has become really the first global police force."
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Corrected on 3/25/11: An earlier version of this article contained an incorrect book title. The book is The Threat Matrix, The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror. The article also incorrectly identified when Robert Mueller took over the FBI. He began his term seven days before the 9/11 attacks.