Federal prosecutors have spent far less time pursuing terrorism suspects over the past five years than the American people paid for, says a new Justice Department audit quoted by the Associated Press. The study says the government has increased prosecutors’ time and other resources devoted to combating health care fraud and drug trafficking. The audit comes amid concerns that the FBI is too strapped by counterterrorism cases to investigate thoroughly financial firms that may have contributed to the nation’s economic crisis. The Justice Department official who oversees the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices nationwide says part of the reason they spent less time on counterterror cases is because investigators referred fewer national security cases for prosecution.
The audit was issued as Attorney General Michael Mukasey lauded recent Justice Department crackdowns on drug trafficking as an example of federal cases that have helped stem increases in violent crime. “Even though nationwide crime numbers are good, many communities still struggle with crime,” Mukasey told the International Association of Chiefs of Police, meeting in San Diego. “Too many people still live in neighborhoods where fear of crime is part of daily life.”