FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate on Wednesday that the FBI is stepping up efforts to combat cybercrime and espionage.
The director testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about President Obama’s request that his 10-year term be extended an additional two years.
“We will increasingly put emphasis on addressing cyberthreats in all of their variations,” Mr. Mueller said a week after reports surfaced that the defense contractor Lockheed Martin and the Internet giant Google suffered sophisticated computer network attacks.
In addition, Mr. Mueller said that his agency is going through information obtained from the Navy SEAL raid that resulted in the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Data gathered from the raid confirmed that the terrorist group still poses a threat to the United States, he said.
“The areas of concentration for the next two years should continue to be terrorism, particularly in the wake of the death of bin Laden [and] the impact thatll have on his adherents,” Mr. Mueller said.
Mr. Mueller said that addressing the threat of terrorism remains a priority for the FBI. He also warned about the increasing threat of what he said is the “radicalization of individuals over the Internet, where the radicalizers can be offshore and the individuals can be in their bedrooms here in the United States.”
“They need not meet or have any other personal contact, but persons can be radicalized through the Internet,” he said.
Mr. Mueller said threats from the Internet include crime as well as “being a highway to extracting our most sensitive secrets or extracting intellectual property from our commerce.”
“And we as an organization need to continue to grow the capability of addressing that arena in the future,” he said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican and ranking member, both said they supported allowing Mr. Mueller to stay on as FBI Director for two more years.
“Changing the tenured term limit is a one-time situation that will not be routinely repeated,” said Mr. Grassley said, who has been critical of the FBI in the past.
Congress in 1968 passed a law limiting FBI directors to serving 10 years after J. Edgar Hoover’s 37-year term as the first director.
The committee is proposing a law that would permit a one-time extension of the 10-year limit.
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