Apr 15 2010

SHELBY STATEMENT ON FBI BUDGET REQUEST

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking Republican on the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today made the following statement during the Subcommittee’s hearing on the 2011 budget for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The full text of Shelby's statement is below.

Statement of Senator Richard C. Shelby
Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
April 15, 2010


“Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. 

“First, I want to recognize and extend my appreciation to the men and women of the FBI who protect this country from terrorism and crime each day. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

“In a few moments, Director Mueller will tell us how preventing terrorism is the FBI's top priority; however, the budget request does not reflect that. 

“While the White House points to a $25 million increase in the request for the FBI's counterterrorism efforts, the truth is that there are irresponsible and drastic cuts to the FBI’s terrorism fighting capabilities.  The cuts total nearly $162 million and were all made by presidential political appointees at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  For every new dollar proposed by the White House to fight terrorists, six counterterrorism dollars are cut.

“This request fails to support the FBI on several fronts -- to work in-theater with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan identifying insurgents and terrorists; to respond to overseas terrorist incidents; and to assist foreign law enforcement partners in defeating terrorists who target U.S. interests and persons.  The request cuts the FBI’s overseas response funding by $63 million, yet I see no decrease in the terrorist threat or in the FBI's overseas response mission. 
 

“The White House does not appear to believe the assessment of its own Department of Homeland Security that states that terrorists’ use of Improvised Explosive Devices - IEDs - remains one of the greatest threats to the United States.  The Administration ignores the Department of Defense’s analysis that IEDs are considered weapons of strategic influence and that the terrorists’ use of IEDs is an enduring global and transnational threat. 

“As evidenced by the recent bombings on the U.S.-Mexican border, as well as the attempted bombings in Detroit and New York, the threat to the U.S. homeland appears to be increasing. 

"Yet, this Administration cut the very funding that is necessary to ensure the FBI has the tools and facilities necessary to respond to this threat. 

“It is clear from the request that OMB is not relying on the right people when it is making decisions regarding the threat this country faces both domestically and abroad. 

“If OMB had consulted the experts, they would not have cancelled funding for the Terrorist Explosives Device Analytical Center (TEDAC).  TEDAC provides the FBI and the U.S. military with the forensic facilities needed to exploit IEDs and terrorist bomb-making materials’ evidence.  OMB’s decision to eliminate TEDAC was based on a proposal from Joint IED Defeat Organization personnel to perform forensics in-theater.  Since the release of the President’s budget, the Joint IED Defeat Organization has abandoned the OMB-proposed approach to set up a level 3 in-theater forensics capability. 

“Ironically, now the Joint IED Defeat Organization is seeking input from the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency to develop a practical near-term solution that meets the critical needs of the warfighter.  This Committee, with an understanding of the transnational and enduring nature of terrorism, provided funding for a facility to address this need that would be well on its way to construction if not for the Administration. 

“Today, the Quantico TEDAC is overwhelmed with the 56,000 boxes of IEDs and materials received since 2004, 37,000 are waiting processing.

“Meanwhile, the FBI receives a monthly average of 700 new submissions. The FBI estimates that 86% of the backlog contains critical information like biometric intelligence -- fingerprints and DNA -- that would assist the U.S. military, the intelligence community, and federal law enforcement in identifying terrorists.

“Director Mueller, I believe the record shows that the proposal by OMB to cancel the TEDAC funding is unwise and ill-timed.  The threat from terrorists’ use of explosives is significant, real, and enduring.  The U.S. needs to prepare for this threat. 

“We in Congress have tried to give the FBI the tools it needs to do so.  In the end, the proposed cancellation would leave this nation unprepared and unprotected - an unacceptable outcome.

“On Tuesday, I sent you a letter outlining concerns regarding the decision by the FBI to revisit procedures relating to the technical review of DNA data contained within the National DNA Index System (NDIS).  The Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis and Methods is the official working group that advises the FBI on DNA analysis methods.

“In 2008, the group sent letters to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees strongly opposing the loosening of the technical review standards and private DNA vendor lab’s having access to the Combined DNA Index System.The group’s initial position was requested by the FBI Lab director.  I find it hard to believe the strong sentiments expressed in these letters by your designee have since changed so drastically. 

“The State CODIS Administrators, the American Society of Crime Lab Directors, prosecutors, and police departments from around the country have issued positions opposing the FBI Lab’s proposal to loosen review standards.  In light of these strongly stated positions by these subject matter experts, the FBI laboratory mystifyingly ignored their concerns.

“As I said in my letter to you, I have serious reservations about how this announcement came about, and I am deeply concerned that it was possibly influenced by private DNA vendors exerting pressure on the FBI lab. 

“It is an abomination to victims, law enforcement, and the Constitution when Congress, the Department of Justice, and the White House blindly ignore the professional opinion of the most renowned DNA experts in the world and begin down the path of considering changing laws and regulations affecting the integrity of evidence. 

“This is an extremely complicated and technical issue, and while I am not necessarily against evaluating and improving the current policy, I do believe this decision was hastily made, without appropriate evaluation of the potential unintended consequences by the FBI Laboratory.

“This issue must be more carefully examined by the FBI and the leadership of all the state and local laboratories it directly affects.

“Director Mueller, I want to continue to work with you to ensure that the FBI is provided the necessary resources to carry out the mission of protecting the American people.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues and the FBI's budget request, and working with you on these and other important issues facing our nation.”