Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has told FBI Director Robert Mueller that her state has too few agents, putting the “safety and security of our citizens” at risk, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Murray told Mueller that the number of agents in the state must increase in order to address both terrorist threats and basic law enforcement needs. “The FBI’s low staffing level not only increases Washington state’s vulnerability to terrorism, it also affects the FBI’s crime-fighting ability in Washington state,” Murray wrote.
The letter cites stories by the Post-Intelligencer detailing how the bureau’s traditional law enforcement efforts, including investigations into white-collar crime and civil rights violations, have suffered as the result of a national counterterrorism emphasis since 9/11. The newspaper said that Western Washington would need 53 more agents, for a total of 186, to be on par with the national average. Washington has 2.1 FBI agents for every 100,000 residents — fewer agents per capita than 34 other states and Puerto Rico, a U.S. dependency without federal voting rights. Seattle police officials reiterated their call for more FBI agents to help fight traditional crime. Charlie Mandigo, former FBI agent in charge in Seattle, agreed with Murray’s assessment that Washington is full of potential criminal targets — such as Naval Submarine Base Bangor, which houses strategic nuclear weapons, and The Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp.