U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee (CJS), today made the following opening statement at the hearing of the Subcommittee to examine the proposed Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) budget for fiscal year 2008.
Senator Shelby’s opening statement, as prepared:
“Director Mueller, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ 2008 budget request.”
“One week after your arrival as the 6th director of the FBI, our nation suffered the worst terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon signified the transformation of a new FBI with greater focus on national security."
“Congress has tasked the FBI with more responsibility than any other federal law enforcement agency, resulting in more challenges and changes than ever before. The FBI is the Nation's premier law enforcement counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence agency that investigates criminal activity and includes terrorism, foreign intelligence operations, espionage, cyber-crime, public corruption, national criminal organizations, white-collar crime and significant violent crime.”
“The FBI request for 2008 is $6.4 billion. This is a $391 million increase over the 2007 Joint Resolution funding level.”
“It has come to my attention that the FBI has a $132 million shortfall in the 2008 budget request. Chairman Mikulski and I want to work with you to ensure that the FBI has sufficient resources to protect our nation.”
“Based on my review of your request, combined with the likely fiscal constraints of this Subcommittee, we will need your assistance as we face tough funding decisions regarding the allocation of resources in your budget. This Subcommittee and the Bureau share the difficult task of targeting these limited resources in a manner that safeguards taxpayer dollars while preserving public safety.”
“The Department of Justice’s Inspector General recently issued a report critical of the FBI’s use of National Security Letters. The IG’s review found that more than 60 percent of the files examined included violations of the FBI’s own policies and procedures.”
“The report also identified significant abuses in the use of exigent letters. The FBI regularly issued them when no emergency existed, often when there was not even a criminal case open. The lack of controls in the use of National Security Letters and exigent letters is very troubling, but as the former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I also know that they are critical in your mission of keeping America safe."
“Director Mueller, in our meeting last month, you committed to fixing the deficiencies identified in the IG report and implementing its 10 recommendations. The FBI must carefully balance the privacy protections and civil liberties of Americans against the need to provide its agents critical information that is pivotal to mission success. Chairman Mikulski and I have provided the FBI $10 million in the current War Supplemental to carry out the IG’s recommendations to fix these problems.”
“We are all extremely saddened by the tragedy that took place on the Virginia Tech campus last week. I understand that the FBI dispatched 20 agents, four victim assistance specialists, and one terrorism victim specialist. I look forward to hearing from the Director about the FBI’s role and what these men and women are doing to assist those affected by this horrific event.”
“While I wholeheartedly support bringing the FBI into the 21st century, and realize the importance of information technology (IT) to the FBI’s mission, I have a number of unanswered questions about Sentinel’s phase one implementation. As I stated last year, given your Trilogy failure, I will not support unlimited and unchecked resources and will not tolerate broken promises for results for IT projects that are not fulfilled or delivered.”
“I understand that things are on track and within budget, but I expect the questions of this Committee to be answered in a timely and complete manner. That has not occurred, but I am hopeful that with your commitment here today, we will be able to continue our support for this needed project.”
“The FBI’s Hazardous Devices School (HDS) at Redstone Arsenal is the crown jewel of the Federal Government’s effort to provide training to Federal, State, and local bomb technicians. In partnership with the Army, this facility has trained over 20,000 bomb technicians in the past 36 years. That is a proven record of success.”
“HDS is the only pre-blast explosives training school in the United States. With the continued construction of the National Center for Explosives Research, Redstone Arsenal will become the home of Federal law enforcement explosives training and research.”
“I am working collaboratively to expand the Federal government’s explosive infrastructure and expertise in Huntsville. I look forward to working with you, Director Mueller, to ensure that Redstone Arsenal is and will continue to be the law enforcement capital of explosives research and training.”
“There are many other issues I’d like to discuss, including the use of resources for the FBI’s priority missions. In addition, I would like to talk about the relationship of the FBI Director to the new Director of National Intelligence and the financial and manpower implications for the FBI.”
“I remain concerned that this new arrangement, while important, is placing additional personnel stresses on an over-burdened FBI. I fear that some of the FBI’s traditional law enforcement responsibilities will not be sufficiently supported by this budget request.”
“Director Mueller, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the FBI’s budget request, and I look forward to working with you on these and other important issues facing our Nation.”
“Now, I want to take this opportunity to thank the men and women who work at the Federal Bureau of Investigation for all they do to keep this country secure.”