FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2004
Schumer: New Delays In Fbi Computer Upgrades Pose National Security Threat
Yesterday, FBI announced that its efforts to fix the computer problems that played a role in the intelligence failures leading to the 9/11 attacks would again be delayed
Senator gives Justice Dept 30 days to explain why these delays are occurring
Schumer: We won wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but we can't fix our computers, an effort that is just as important to national securi
US Senator Charles Schumer today asked the Justice Department to report within 30 days why its efforts to fix the computer problems that played a role in the intelligence failures leading to the 9/11 attacks continue to be delayed. Yesterday, FBI Director Robert Mueller said that the completion of the FBI’s Trilogy System, including the Virtual Case File System which will allow agents across the country to share information, is nearly two years behind schedule.
"Since 9/11, we've been able to topple Iraq and Afghanistan and dedicated billions of dollars to our efforts abroad but for some reason, we can't fix the computer glitches that played a major role in the intelligence failures that led to 9/11," Schumer said. "Fixing the FBI's computer problems is an essential component in our fight against Al Qaeda, so it's pretty frustrating that the White House and Justcie Department haven't made this more of a priority. The fact is that these problems continue threaten our national security."
Schumer said the continued delay threatens not only the FBI’s daily operations and counter-terrorism efforts but also hinders the efforts to integrate the terrorist watch lists. Nine federal agencies currently manage twelve separate terrorist watch lists. In September of last year, the Administration announced that the FBI would house the new Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) and part of its task would be to integrate the twelve lists into a unified list by December 1, 2003. The TSC failed to meet that deadline. Mueller reported yesterday that he hopes to have a unified database in place by this summer.
Schumer questioned whether the FBI's inability reform its own computer network raises questions about its ability to house the TSC and lead the immensely complicated task of incorporating twelve different computer databases that make up the terrorist watch lists. In a letter to Mueller and Attorney General Ashcroft, Schumer asked the Justice Department to respond to the following questions within 30 days:
• What is your new deadline for Trilogy, including the VCF system, to finally be fully operational?
• What measures have you taken to end these delays that continue to endanger the FBI’s ability to integrate its offices and personnel in a way that will effectively protect our security?
• How will the TSC rely on information from or utilize the FBI’s Trilogy system?
• What effect will the continued delay of Trilogy and the VCF have on the creation of the TSC’s unified database?
• When do you expect the TSC to fully integrate the 12 existing terrorist watch lists into a unified database?
A copy of Schumer's letter is attached.