FBI lost 160 laptops, Justice report says

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

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine also reported that a similar number of weapons disappeared during the same period.


Fine's report grew out of an audit examining improved FBI efforts to keep tabs on its equipment. Progress has been made, he said, but more needs to 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 bureau'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 an additional 51 machines - including seven missing from the bureau's counterterrorism and counterintelligence divisions - carried such high-value data.

"Perhaps most troubling, the FBI could not determine in many cases whether the lost or stolen laptop computers contained sensitive or classified information," said the Justice Department IG's stated. "Such information may include case information, personal identifying information or classified information on FBI operations."

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

In a statement, FBI Assistant Director John Miller highlighted progress the bureau has made 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.


The new report found that 160 weapons were lost or stolen during the 44-month period studied.

"Making progress may seem like a win for the FBI, but it's unacceptable when you're talking about lost weapons and computers with sensitive information," said Sen. Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

Adam Schreck writes for the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press contributed to this article.