Since 9/11, the number of criminal prosecutions initiated by the FBI has dropped by more than 30 percent. Among the steepest declines: white-collar crime, drug prosecutions, and organized crime, says the Christian Science Monitor. The data reflect a fundamental shift in the mission of the FBI, from primarily a law-enforcement agency dedicated to investigating crime to an intelligence and counterterrorism one. FBI-initiated prosecutions have dropped from 19,000 in 2001 to 12,700 last year, says the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. Terrorism prosecutions rose 26 percent, but they account for a small fraction of the FBI’s cases and have dropped in number since peaking in 2002.
Says Lee Hamilton, 9/11 commission vice chair: “There’s an awful lot of malfeasance in this country at high levels: You’ve got drug dealers, and ordinary criminals, and all the rest, and they need to be prosecuted. John Hall, a retired 32-year FBI veteran, recommends “an in-depth study of the kind of resources that are really needed. It may be a thousand, or it may be 2,000 agents, but if we expect to address effectively the sophisticated challenges that are out there now, [we need] more resources.”