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160 laptops go missing from FBI

Some had sensitive data. Audit also finds 160 weapons vanished.

February 13, 2007|Adam Schreck | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The FBI lost 160 laptops -- including at least 10 containing sensitive or classified data and one with names and addresses of agents -- sometime from February 2002 to September 2005, according to a report released Monday by the Justice Department.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine also reported that 160 weapons disappeared during the same period.

Fine's report grew out of an audit examining FBI efforts to keep tabs on its equipment. Progress has been made, he said, but more must be done.

"This is a significant deficiency," Fine wrote in the report. "Without knowing the content of these lost and stolen laptops, it is impossible for the FBI to determine the extent of the damage these losses might have had on its operations or on national security."

The bureau has an inventory of 26,166 laptops and 52,263 weapons, according to the report.

One of the missing laptops, stolen from a facility in Quantico, Va., held the "names, addresses and telephone numbers of FBI personnel," the report stated.

Another, stolen from the Boston field office, contained software to create identification badges, and one taken from the department's security division contained a "system security plan for an electronic access control system."

The bureau does not know what sensitive or classified information was on six other laptops, and is uncertain whether 51 other machines -- including seven missing from the bureau's counter-terrorism and counterintelligence divisions -- carried such high-value data.

The security measures on FBI laptops include encryption software and passwords, bureau spokesman Paul Bresson said.

In a statement, FBI Assistant Director of Public Affairs John Miller highlighted the bureau's progress in reducing the loss of equipment and disagreed with the report's conclusions about the number of missing weapons.

"Nonetheless, we acknowledge more needs to be done to ensure the proper handling of the loss and theft of weapons and laptops, and the information maintained on them," he said.

A 2002 inspector general's audit found that 317 laptops had disappeared, along with 212 working weapons and 142 inoperable ones, during a 28-month period.


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