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WASHINGTON (AP) _ FBI Director Robert Mueller says the agency is making substantial progress in shifting its primary focus to counterterrorism efforts, although he acknowledged the transformation is not always smooth.

In a letter to the editor to The New York Times published Friday, Mueller said he is ``tremendously proud of the progress'' the FBI is making.

``We are a different FBI than we were a year ago; we continue to move toward where we need to be, and I am confident that we will get there,'' Mueller wrote.

His letter came in response to news stories this week about an e-mail sent to the 56 FBI field offices by Deputy Director Bruce Gebhardt urging the special agents in charge to continue focusing on the mission change. Mueller said that e-mail was sent not out of frustration and does not ``suggest any slippage in the pursuit of that mission.''

``I accept that this will continue to require regular communication throughout the FBI to address the inevitable bumps,'' Mueller added. ``I will continue to remind our employees and the public of our priorities.''

Mueller sent a message to all FBI employees last week reminding them of the shift in priorities.

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