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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

Senate unanimously extends Mueller’s term as FBI chief

Robert Mueller’s term as FBI director was set to end next week. The term limit was set after J. Edgar Hoover’s death. Robert Mueller’s term as FBI director was set to end next week. The term limit was set after J. Edgar Hoover’s death. (Nicholas Kamm/ AFP/ Getty Images)
July 28, 2011

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WASHINGTON - The Senate extended the term of FBI Director Robert Mueller for up to two years yesterday, a day after President Obama signed legislation making an exception to the 10-year limit for an FBI chief. The vote was 100-0.

Mueller, 66, was nominated to the office by former President George W. Bush and took office a week before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Obama asked him to stay in office as two other major positions in his security team, the defense secretary and the CIA director, undergo changes.

“With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, and a continued threat from Al Qaeda, we find ourselves facing unique circumstances,’’ said Senate Judiciary panel chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

Congress had to first pass legislation allowing for a one-time exception. That limit was set in 1976 as Congress reacted to the length and excesses of J. Edgar Hoover’s tenure. Hoover served as director from 1924 until his death in 1972. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AG will meet with 9/11 victims’ kin WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to meet Aug. 24 with some family members of 9/11 victims regarding the FBI inquiry into allegations surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, a lawyer said yesterday.

According to a London tabloid’s story based on unnamed sources, a former New York police officer-turned-private investigator said he had been contacted by journalists from Murdoch’s News of the World who offered to pay him to retrieve private phone records of Sept. 11 victims in the United States. The story said the investigator turned down the proposal.

The US-based parent company of Murdoch’s operations, News Corp., has said that “we have not seen any evidence to suggest there was any hacking of 9/11 victim’s phones, nor has anybody corroborated what are clearly very serious allegations.’’

New York attorney Norman Siegel said that he and about 20 family members he represents will make some recommendations to the Justice Department regarding possible actions the government could take to investigate the story.

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed the meeting. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ann Romney campaigns solo at N.H. house party LACONIA, N.H.- As former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign heats up, his wife is taking on an increasingly high-profile role.

Yesterday, while her husband campaigned in Ohio, Ann Romney took a break from her vacation at the family summer home on Lake Winnipesaukee to speak to 20 voters at a house party in Laconia.

“I left 16 grandchildren at home this morning and a couple of them wanted to know why I was dressed this way, how come they weren’t going on the boat, going swimming with me,’’ Romney said, wearing a blue and white dress.

The Romneys have been married for 42 years. Ann Romney, now 62, stayed home to raise her five sons. She took an active role in her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Until now, her political forays have been with her husband. This month, she is starting to develop an independent schedule, said Susan Duprey, a New Hampshire attorney and campaign veteran who is traveling with Ann Romney. Romney stumped in South Carolina last week, planned to attend house parties yesterday and today in New Hampshire, and is slated to spend more time in the state in August, Duprey said.

Romney said she sees herself as a representative of Mitt Romney to “round out the image’’ of who he is. Her job, she said, is “for people to see what an extraordinary president he might be on a level where they can trust him, on an interpersonal level, recognizing he has characteristics as a family man and a successful businessman.’’

In a short speech, Romney praised her husband as a man “who knows how to do a turnaround,’’ of businesses and of the country. She talked about his background as a businessman and starting Bain Capital.

But she also focused on his commitment to his family. “He’d remind me always that no other success can compensate for failure in the home,’’ she said.

Referring to her work raising her children, Romney said her husband would tell her that “more important than my job is what you’re doing.’’

Romney, who has multiple sclerosis, has never been shy about talking about her disease, which was diagnosed in 1998. She spoke about struggling with her health while her husband helped run the Salt Lake City Olympics and about the joy of being strong enough to carry the Olympic torch after her husband chose her for the honor, naming her his “personal hero.’’ — SHIRA SCHOENBERG

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