The Bush administration’s 2008 budget cuts deeply into the FBI’s criminal investigations, further crippling the bureau’s ability to tackle white-collar fraud, police abuse, civil rights violations, and many other crimes, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Some lawmakers are challenging to the FBI that could take effect as soon as Monday, the start of the federal fiscal year. The Democratic majority’s spending plan restores only a small fraction of the FBI agents needed to keep the criminal program at current levels.
President Bush is transferring hundreds more agents to counterterrorism operations — continuing a trend that started after 9/11. “This is gutting the criminal program. Incomprehensible. Just plain dumb,” said a recently retired top FBI official. “At a time when fraud is a huge undercurrent of the subprime mortgage crisis, this will completely wipe out the FBI’s white-collar program. Six years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the White House has failed to replace at least 2,400 agents transferred to counterterrorism squads. The result has been a dramatic overall drop in FBI investigations and case referrals. Since 2001 there has been a 34 percent drop in criminal cases referred to federal prosecutors, a 65 percent plunge in civil rights cases, and a 30 percent decline in white-collar crime convictions.