Audit: Justice Department clueless on WMD attack
The FBI looks ready for a chemical, biological or radiological terrorist attack, but the rest of the Justice Department “is not prepared,” according to a blistering audit released Tuesday.
The report by Glenn Fine, DOJ’s Inspector General, singled out DOJ’s bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, or ATF, for particular scorn, suggesting it was only dimly aware that it had been designated the department’s “lead coordinator” for the department’s response to a WMD attack.
The rationale for giving ATF, a poor stepchild to the FBI in law enforcement matters, the lead role in the first place was not explained in the report.
But other DoJ components did not escape the OIG’s wrath, either.
“[W]e found that no Department law enforcement component, other than the FBI, has specific WMD operational response plans. ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) each have groups that manage all-hazards responses, but these groups do not include specific preparations for WMD incidents,” the OIG said.
Those agencies weren’t even curious about what the FBI was up to, the report said.
“When we asked if they were familiar with the FBI’s WMD response plan, officials from ATF, the DEA, and the USMS said they were not familiar with the plan and had not asked to see it,” the report said.
“Our review concluded that only the FBI has taken adequate steps to prepare to respond to a potential WMD attack” including in the Washington, D.C. area, it said.
The Justice Department took its medicine without complaint.
“We concur in all five recommendations and will implement (them),” Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker said in a written response to the OIG report.
The DEA, however, protested, saying it did participate in drills, citing one every year between 2005 and 2008. But auditors said they were not the same kind of exercises under discussion in their report.
The ATF and Marshals Service did not offer a formal defense of their bad grades.
UPDATE: I should have included a factor in the ATF’s lack of preparedness for a WMD attack -- money.
“When we asked why ATF had been unable to implement the ESF-13 Concept of Operations Plan,” the DOJ auditors said, “ATF officials stated that ATF lacked the funds to fulfill the Department’s ESF-13 responsibilities. We reviewed ATF budget documents and found the (Justice) Department’s budget request for FY 2011 was the first time that funding designated specifically for ESF-13 activities was included in the Department’s budget request to the President.”
| June 1, 2010; 12:30 PM ET
Categories: Intelligence, Justice/FBI
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