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Monday, March 31, 2008

Brother, can you spare a nine?

The Department of Justice released a report last week following up on its 2002 audit of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to deal with the alarming number of laptop computers and weapons that have gone missing on its agents’ watch. While the report noted that agents are losing fewer laptops than they used to, a whopping 230 of them have gone missing in the last five years, and the DEA has no idea what was on them. As the report stated, “The DEA is unable to provide any assurance that the lost or stolen laptops did not contain sensitive information.”

The really bad news is that, despite supposed efforts at improvement, the pace with which weapons are flying out of the hands of the agents who fight the war against drugs is increasing. The count in the past five years is 82 handguns, 5 shotguns, 2 rifles and 2 submachine guns. Most of the guns were swiped right out of agents’ cars, despite a policy prohibiting agents from leaving weapons in their autos. At this rate, the DEA is losing guns faster than alleged arms dealers I’ve represented can supposedly sell them.

In a response to the DOJ’s report, the drug agency said that all laptops containing sensitive information were encrypted. Now that’s really comforting. Next we'll have the FBI computer crimes squad chasing the hackers who have the DEA laptops. The really good news? More business for us criminal defense lawyers! CR

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