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FBI: We'll keep better track of our guns

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The FBI reacted strongly Monday to an inspector general's audit showing U.S. law enforcement agencies are missing hundreds of weapons and laptop computers, mostly from the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The FBI said it was tightening its inventory control.

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But one of the bureau's harshest congressional critics, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, blasted the FBI.

"It's no surprise that hundreds of computers and guns are missing from the Justice Department, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow," Grassley said in a statement released by his office.

"This problem has real consequences, in criminal acts and danger to national security."

Grassley said the audit shows "the problem of missing guns at the FBI, in particular, is a mess, and it's been that way for years. It stems from weak discipline, lax standards, tardy reporting and few, if any, consequences."

The audit, which was released Monday, was triggered by an FBI internal audit last summer that showed 265 weapons and 180 laptops were missing since 1990.

The inspector general's audit found nearly 775 weapons either missing or stolen from five U.S. law enforcement agencies within the Department of Justice, and about 400 missing laptops.

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The inspector general's report said the INS and the FBI reported the largest number of missing weapons, 539 and 212, respectively.

The FBI said had an additional 211 weapons reported missing outside the audit time period, exclusive of last summer's audit. None of the other three agencies -- the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service -- reported more than 16 missing weapons.

The bureau confirmed that one of the 180 weapons reported stolen from cars or homes of FBI agents was used in a homicide.

In a statement Monday, the FBI said it is "undertaking to tighten up inventory control" and security procedures "will be strictly enforced."

Beyond that, "the institutional response to the loss of an sensitive property, like a gun or laptop, will be prompt and robust," the FBI said, "both from a security standpoint and from an accountability standpoint."

The creation of the FBI's new Security Division will also improve the bureau's performance, the statement said.

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