FEBRUARY 13, 2007
The federal agency in charge of protecting the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats cannot even keep track of its own weapons and classified data.
Repeatedly under fire for negligent acts, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is again in trouble for losing more than 150 laptop computers containing sensitive or classified information and 160 weapons that could easily end up in the possession of terrorists.
FBI officials have admitted that they are not certain what type of classified information the lost laptops contained, but say some of it is from the bureau’s crucial counter-terrorism and counterintelligence division. Some of the stolen computers have the software used to create official identification badges and another, taken from the department’s security division, contains a system security plan for an electronic access control system.
The serious security lapses were discovered in a lengthy audit conducted by the Department of Justice Inspector General, which issued a 121-page report this week documenting the findings. The audit found that the FBI loses three to four laptop computers containing sensitive information each month and that the agency repeatedly violates procedure by failing to immediately report the loss of classified data to the Department of Justice.
Additionally, the investigation found that the FBI does a poor job of keeping an adequate written inventory of its weapons and computers and that it does not recover bureau equipment from employees before they leave the agency. Practically every field office is mentioned in the report, which includes color charts and graphs to break down the lengthy findings.
About five years ago, the Inspector General issued a similar report chastising the FBI for losing 354 weapons and 317 laptop computers containing classified information. It seems that the 31,000 FBI employees who protect the U.S. against terrorism and espionage need to work on their record-keeping skills.
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