The FBI is “a shadow of its former crime-busting self,” submitting nearly 40 percent fewer criminal investigations to the main Justice Department for referral than it did two decades ago, reports the Associated Press. The decline is mostly the result of the bureau’s heavy focus on terrorism investigations. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks changed the FBI’s focus, but other agencies that are heavily engaged in white-collar criminal investigations are showing similar changes, a the study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a private group at Syracuse University.
FBI spokesman John Miller defended the resource shift, saying that “going 6 1/2 years without a successful attack by terrorists on U.S. soil [is] a win.” The flip side to the declines is the soaring number of immigration investigations, which now account for more than a quarter of all criminal referrals to the Justice Department, TRAC says. Last year, 41,600 immigration cases went to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, more than double the figure from 2001. The FBI accounts for fewer than one of every six case files referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. Twenty years ago, it was more than one out of every three. “We’re doing fewer low-end fraud and drug cases, the easy layups,” said the FBI’s Miller. “At the same time hundreds of agents worked on Enron, HealthSouth, Qwest. Another priority, complex public corruption cases, may take two years, but the result is an achievement that transcends arrest numbers.” Other agencies that are seeing dramatic declines in referrals include the Secret Service, Internal Revenue Service and Postal Inspection Service.