Justice Department missing 775 weapons, 400 laptops

Tuesday, August 6, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department has lost track of 775 weapons and 400 laptop computers, more than half of which may have contained national security or sensitive law enforcement information, an internal probe found.

Some of the weapons were used to commit crimes and the classification level of 218 of the missing laptops is unknown, said the audit report by the department's Office of Inspector General.

The bulk of the missing weapons belonged to the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The report noted that "it is possible that the missing laptop computers would have been used to process and store national security or sensitive law enforcement information."

Before last year, the FBI had not taken a complete inventory of laptops and weapons in almost a decade, despite an agency policy requiring such an inventory be taken every two years, said Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

"The FBI showed serious deficiencies in management in keeping track of weapons and laptops," Fine said. "Taking inventory is not a glamorous part of the job and the FBI had many other duties... It was not taken seriously."

The Justice Department has already revealed to Congress that 449 weapons and 184 computers were lost or stolen.

In the inspector general's audit, the INS and the FBI reported losses of 539 and 212 weapons, respectively.

None of the other three Justice Department components -- the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service -- reported more than 16 missing weapons.

The BOP, DEA, and USMS audits cover weapons and laptop computers that were reported lost, missing or stolen between October 1999 and August 2001. The FBI audit covers weapons and computers that were reported lost, missing, or stolen between October 1999 and January 2002.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: