Saturday, May 2, 2009

FBI Deputy Director Thomas J. Pickard Announces his Retirement on October 31, 2001

Thomas J. Pickard (born January 6, 1950) was an acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 41 days in the summer of 2001 following the tenure of Director Louis Freeh. He was replaced just one week before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and The Pentagon.

On February 2, 1998, Pickard assumed the position of Assistant Director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters. On November 1, 1999, Pickard was appointed Deputy Director, the number two position at the FBI. On June 25, 2001, Pickard was appointed Acting Director of the FBI by Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Pickard is implicated in the destruction of FBI agent John P. O'Neill's career during the summer before the September 11, 2001 attacks. In the PBS Frontline documentary “The Man Who Knew.” O'Neill's significant other accuses Pickard of leaking information to the New York Times that effectively ended O'Neill's efforts against Al-Qaeda. O'Neill would die just months later in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Robert Swan Mueller III

After serving as a partner at the Boston law firm of Hill and Barlow, Mueller was again called to public service. In 1989, he served in the United States Department of Justice as an assistant to Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. The following year he took charge of its criminal division. During his tenure, he oversaw prosecutions that included Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, the Pan Am Flight 103 (Lockerbie bombing) case, and the Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. In 1991, he was elected a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

In 1993, Mueller became a partner at Boston's Hale and Dorr, specializing in complex white-collar crime litigation. He returned to public service in 1995 as senior litigator in the homicide section of the District of Columbia United States Attorney's Office. In 1998, Mueller was named U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California and held that position until 2001.

FBI appointment

Mueller was nominated for the position of FBI Director on July 5, 2001. He and two other candidates were up for the job at the time, but he was always considered the front runner. Washington lawyer George J. Terwilliger III and veteran Chicago prosecutor and white-collar defense lawyer Dan Webb were up for the job but both pulled out from consideration around mid-June. Confirmation hearings for Mueller, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were quickly set for July 30, only three days before his prostate cancer surgery. The vote on the Senate floor on August 2, 2001 passed unanimously, 98-0. He then served as Acting Deputy Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice for several months, before officially becoming the FBI Director on September 4, 2001, just one week before the September 11 attacks against the United States.

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