Priorities, Priorities


From today's 9/11 commission staff report:

On May 10, 2001, the Department issued guidance for developing the fiscal year 2003 budget that made reducing the incidence of gun violence and reducing the trafficking of illegal drugs priority objectives. [Counterterrorism division chief Dale] Watson told us that he almost fell out of his chair when he saw the memo, because it made no mention of counterterrorism. The Department prepared a budget for fiscal year 2003 that did not increase counterterrorism funding over its pending proposal for fiscal year 2002. It did include an enhancement for the FBI's information technology program intended to support the collection, analysis, and rapid dissemination of information pertinent to FBI investigations. Acting FBI Director Thomas Pickard told us he made an appeal to Attorney General Ashcroft for further counterterrorism enhancements not included in this budget proposal. On September 10, the Attorney General rejected that appeal.

Ashcroft testifies before the commission this afternoon.