FBI Director Robert Mueller testified Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He encouraged lawmakers to renew the Patriot Act, which he said has helped national security investigations.
U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) pressed Mueller for details about the FBI's decision last year to cut off contacts with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Kyl and other senators wrote to Mueller last month to praise the decision and clarify whether exceptions existed and whether the policy extended to field offices as well as FBI headquarters. Mueller has not yet responded, which prompted the following exchange:
MUELLER: I prefer not to discuss any particular organization within the Muslim community. I can tell you that where we have an issue with a particular organization, we'll take what steps are necessary to resolve that issue.
KYL: Well, whatever the policy is, which I gather you will describe, is that a bureau-wide policy? Does it apply to the regional offices, district offices and so on?
MUELLER: We try to adapt, when we have situations where we have an issue with one or more individuals, as opposed to institution, or an institution, large, to identify the specificity of those particular individuals or issues that need to be addressed.
We will generally have -- individuals may have some maybe leaders in the community who we have no reason to believe whatsoever are involved in terrorism, but may be affiliated, in some way, shape or form, with an institution about which there is some concern, and which we have to work out a separate arrangement.
We have to be sensitive to both the individuals, as well as the organization, and try to resolve the issues that may prevent us from working with a particular organization.
KYL: Even though you've said you prefer not to talk about specific organizations in this hearing, I guess the question still remains whether the information that we received that this particular organization was no longer one with which you were having a direct relationship -- is that information incorrect?
MUELLER: I think what I'd prefer to do, if I could, is provide that letter to you where I can be more precise in terms of...
KYL: All right, that's fair enough.
MUELLER: ... and have some opportunity to review exactly specifically what I say.
KYL: All right. I appreciate that. Let me maybe carry it a little bit further into an easier area for you.
The Holy Land case also dealt with the Muslim Brotherhood and I just wanted to quote from one government exhibit, Exhibit No. 3-85, from that trial, quote -- and this is the -- it's also known as Ikhwan. Quote, "The Ikhwan must understand that their role in America is a kind of grand jihad, in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious," end of quote.
Are members of the Muslim Brotherhood or the organization itself active at all in the United States?
MUELLER: I would say, generally, we have investigations that would address that issue, yes.
KYL: And do you have a policy about meeting with that organization or its members?
MUELLER: I would not say we have a written policy, but I can tell you that before we -- that in the course of our liaison activities, we certainly search our indices to make certain that when we meet with individuals, that they're not under investigation and that we can appropriately maintain liaison relationships with them.
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote his own letter to the FBI seeking similar information. Like Kyl, he's still waiting for a direct answer, too.