Audit: DOJ Isn't Spending All Its Anti-Terrorism Money On Anti-Terrorism

The Justice Department diverted funds that Congress designated for terrorism prosecutions to the prosecution of other crimes, according to an audit (pdf) by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine. From 2003 to 2007, Congress funded positions for 250 to 293 prosecutors to focus on terrorism. During that time, the Justice Department never assigned more than 204 prosecutors to terrorism cases. U.S. Attorneys used some of the funding to prosecute other crimes, including health care fraud and drug distribution. The audit also concluded that the U.S. Attorneys underutilized available resources.

While this AP story contends that the audit "raises questions about how prosecutors around the country allocate their time among top crime-fighting priorities," U.S. Attorneys aren't to blame for using their prosecutors where they're needed. No matter how much money Congress wants to allocate to terrorism prosecution, there just aren't many credible terrorist threats to prosecute. Prosecutors can convene grand jury investigations and prepare search warrant applications and otherwise assist federal agents with their investigations, but if those investigations go nowhere (as they so often have), the prosecutors are wasting their time and our money. U.S. Attorneys can assign prosecutors to chat with each other about the unproductive terrorism investigations they're leading, or they can assign those prosecutors to useful work.

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[The report] comes amid concerns that the FBI is too strapped by counterterrorism cases to fully investigate financial firms that may have contributed to the nation's economic crisis.

The Bush administration devoted enormous resources to anti-terrorism since 9/11 but unearthed few legitimate threats. What's the greater risk to our nation? Domestic terrorist attacks or the financial fraud that contributed to an economic crisis? As huge sums of money are funneled into the financial industry, wouldn't it be wise to use some of those investigators and prosecutors to provide bailout oversight? We shouldn't abandon investigation of legitimate threats, but we also shouldn't complain when public resources are allocated according to need.

Side note: for the wonkishly inclined, or for those who are curious about what their U.S. Attorneys Offices are up to, the audit is packed full of interesting facts, charts, maps, acronyms, and cool phrases like "burn rates." The report also frets that prosecutors don't keep close track of how they spend their time and recommends some user-friendly paperwork to solve the problem. Right. Good luck with that, Mr. Fine.

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    now you just know that can't (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 09:54:34 PM EST
    be correct TChris! there are literally millions of terrorists in the US, just begging to be prosecuted. i know this, because john mccain and sarah palin told me so. clearly, these people just aren't looking hard enough.

    as far as the bailout funds are concerned, no need to worry about oversight, those are fine, upstanding folks, they wouldn't use those funds for anything but the right reasons. just ask those good people at AIG.

    really, no need to look behind the curtain.

    After all (none / 0) (#2)
    by cal1942 on Tue Nov 11, 2008 at 10:18:45 PM EST
    the people running our financial industry are among those adults we were told about after the 2000 election.  No need to regulate or shadow those adults. Even Alan Greenspan said so and we all know Alan Greenspan is the adult de adult.

    Only a fool.... (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 12, 2008 at 08:46:24 AM EST
    didn't see this coming when Bush and Congress rapidly increased "anti-terror" spending.

    The fed is just too damn big, I've long since given up on any kind of fiscal accountability and/or responsibility.

    The only real option to the people is tax revolt, pissin' and moanin' will get us nowhere.  Pay the vig and get what we get or stop paying the vig...these are our options.