Thousands of white-collar criminals across the U.S. are no longer being prosecuted in federal court or at all — leaving frustrated victims and potentially billions of dollars in fraud and theft losses. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says it is the untold story of the Bush administration’s restructuring of the FBI after the terrorism attacks of 9/11. The administration has failed to replace at least 2,400 agents transferred to counterterrorism squads, leaving far fewer agents seeking identity thieves, con artists, and other criminals.
Two successive attorneys general have rejected FBI pleas for reinforcements. While there hasn’t been a terrorism strike on U.S. soil since the realignment, the hidden cost is a dramatic plunge in FBI investigations and case referrals in many of the crimes that the bureau has traditionally fought, including sophisticated fraud, embezzlement schemes, and civil rights violations. The Post-Intelligencer said that in 2005, the FBI brought 20,000 cases to federal prosecutors, compared with 31,000 in 2000 — a 34 percent drop. In 2005, the FBI sent prosecutors 3,500 white-collar-crime cases, a small fraction of the more than 10,000 cases in 2000. A retired FBI official said Bush is “starving the criminal program.”