The Bush administration is rejecting FBI pleas for more agents to investigate crimes that helped trigger the global financial meltdown, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. “They are bogged down big-time or there would be some indictments by now,” said a retired bureau official who played a pivotal role in setting FBI policy after 9/ 11. Reinventing the FBI after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Justice Department shifted 2,400 agents from traditional crime-fighting squads to counterterrorism units. At least 1,700 of those agents haven’t been replaced. This has resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of crimes investigated by the FBI nationwide.
One FBI official said that the bureau needs at least 300 to 400 more agents investigating the financial crisis. Bush’s proposed budget calls for increasing FBI funding in 2009 by $451 million, to $7.1 billion. That includes funding 280 additional agents for national security programs, adding none for criminal programs. Nationwide, only 180 agents are investigating mortgage fraud in what has been called the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. About 100 additional agents are investigating corporate fraud, including the subprime loan debacle. Tony Adamski, the FBI’s former head of financial crime investigations, said he had more than 1,000 agents dedicated to financial crimes during the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s and early 1990s — a crisis that pales in comparison with today’s financial meltdown.