Missing Weapons and Laptops at the FBI

You'd think that FBI agents, of all people, wouldn't lose track of weapons. Or laptops that hold classified documents.

The FBI reported 160 laptop computers as lost or stolen in less than four years, including at least 10 that contained highly sensitive classified information and one that held "personal identifying information on FBI personnel," according to a new report released today.

An undetermined number of the laptops -- between 10 and 51 -- contained classified information.

The bureau, which has struggled for years to get a handle on sloppy inventory procedures, also reported 160 missing weapons during the same time period, from February 2002 to September 2005, according to the report by the Justice Department inspector general's office.

Incompetence is the norm in the Bush administration, but tolerance of such widespread ineptitude in a federal agency is inexcusable.

It's remarkable that the agency doesn't have clear records designating the computers that were authorized to hold classified information.

"Without knowing the content of these lost and stolen laptops, it is impossible for the FBI to determine the extent of the damage these losses might have had on its operations or on national security," the inspector general's office said.

To the agency's credit, it hasn't been quite as reckless as in years past.

The 2002 report found nearly 1,000 missing firearms in Justice agencies, including at least 18 weapons later recovered by local police departments in connection with criminal investigations. Several were used in armed robberies and one was found in the pocket of a murder victim, according to the previous audit.
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    Yet these are the folks ... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Sailor on Mon Feb 12, 2007 at 09:40:36 PM EST
    ... who some commenters here think can be trusted with our DNA.

    perhaps they should ask the IRS for help, since (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 12:17:57 AM EST
    their own accountants don't seem up to the job. that's just plain embarrasing.

    just exactly how gd'd difficult could it be to establish a basic inventory method? it isn't like this is an entirely new concept or anything: every business in the world has been doing this since practically the dawn of time, there are bookshelf programs available, for exactly that purpose.

    someone's head should literally roll for this, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever.

    btw, i'm a cpa, i have some knowledge of the issue. this is pathetic.

    The IRS ... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Sailor on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 01:07:57 AM EST
    ... doesn't seem to have a better track record than the FBI in safeguarding our private info.

    it's got a far better track record of safeguarding (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 12:04:09 PM EST
    it's own physical operating assets.

    unfortunately, private financial data isn't subject to the same type of inventory controls as physical property is. with physical property, you either have it or you don't, not so with data. data can be skimmed from the files, but not be physically lost.

    it's the very nature of the difference between tangibles and intangibles.


    More data (none / 0) (#4)
    by roy on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 01:23:10 AM EST
    The 2002 report can be found here, and the 2006 follow-up here.  PDFs ahoy.

    I'm not sure what's up with the Bush administration dig.  The Clinton years were characterized by the FBI not even doing inventory so as to notice how much equipment was missing.  The Bush years have been characterized by (eventually) detecting and reducing the problem.

    Good news, though, no non-functional training weapons were stolen!  Lost, yes, but not stolen.  Whew.

    Could it be.... (none / 0) (#5)
    by kdog on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 08:15:56 AM EST
    too many sticky fingers at the FBI?

    They are in the same business as criminals, after all.

    And when your budget is pretty much limitless, you can loot the agency at your leisure.

    Lost my arse...somebody is taking home souveniers.

    The norm (none / 0) (#6)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 08:21:06 AM EST

    Incompetence is the norm in the Bush administration, but tolerance of such widespread ineptitude in a federal agency is inexcusable.

    For all we know, this is the norm at the rest of the agencies.  It might be above average or it might be below, but we don't really know or have a way to find out.  

    Say, why not make this outfit our single payer for health care?

    AAA (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 10:12:57 AM EST
    If you think the FBI is bad, just wait until you have to deal with Medicare...

    BTW - You can avoid the FBI. You can't Medicare.

    BTW - Having a screwed up health provider is a damn site better than having no health provider.


    see? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jen M on Tue Feb 13, 2007 at 09:30:28 AM EST
    This is one of the reasons why we federal workers laugh hysterically when we hear conspiracy theories involving the US Gvmt.

    "you think we're competent to do WHAT???"

    So, we'll be seeing indictments any minute, right? (none / 0) (#10)
    by kipling on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 09:20:43 AM EST
    In the UK, a national bank just got nailed for $750,000, for insufficient security procedures after an employee had his laptop stolen. I think it's time we saw some arrests and prosecutions here, too, no?