(WASHINGTON) — FBI Director Robert S. Mueller warned lawmakers Wednesday that a possible budget cut could delay his agency’s efforts to find terrorists and bombmakers.
The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) at Quantico was established in late 2003 to help counter the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) faced by U.S. soldiers in war zones.
FBI officials say they have analyzed over 80,000 IEDs at TEDAC, but Mueller, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday, said that the proposed budget cut could lead to a greater backlog in the analysis of devices, preventing timely fingerprint analysis of suspected and known terrorists.
“We have the process of evaluating IEDs that have been discovered in Iraq and now Afghanistan,” Mueller said, “and we take those IEDs and process them through our laboratory for fingerprints for DNA, for the designs. We have a backlog and that — our ability to get through that backlog — will be impacted by that rescission.”
The FBI’s budget request for 2013 includes a $162 million cut from the FBI’s Salaries & Expense account. FBI officials declined to say how large the backlog of IEDS waiting to be analyzed is.
“I’ve got monies allocated to address that backlog,” Mueller added. “If we’re cut, I can’t do that backlog and that enhances the risk that we will not have a fingerprint of an individual on an IED, and that individual may get into Europe or may get into the United States.”
“That is less important than making certain we follow every lead on every potential terrorist in the United States,” Mueller continued. “So I have to prioritize. But with the prioritization comes an enhanced risk.”
There have been an estimated 127,105 IED attacks in Iraq and 52,963 IED attacks in Afghanistan since 2004, according to military records.
The budget rebalancing could also cut $37 million from the FBI’s internal computer security system in an effort to centralize all FBI records.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Debra Goldschmidt, CNN