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Justice Department budget emphasizes counter-terror

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | (UPI) -- The Justice Department announced a proposed budget Monday of $23.3 billion for fiscal 2004, up slightly from 2003.

The FBI and other federal law enforcement programs are slated for a 6.3 percent increase in spending.

The new proposed FBI budget is just over $4.75 billion, up from about $4.3 billion this year.

Budget increases for all counter-terrorism programs are just under $600 million.

In a prepared statement, Attorney General John Ashcroft said the increases reflect the department's priority. "Following the attacks of Sept. 11," Ashcroft said, "the Department of Justice mobilized the resources of our law enforcement and justice system to meet a single, overarching goal: to prevent future terrorist attacks on the United States and its citizens."

The increases also reflect the FBI's evolution from primarily a law enforcement agency to a domestic intelligence agency. Though law enforcement remains an FBI mission, it is being far less emphasized than counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence, the bureau's current No. 1 and 2 priorities.

The new funding proposals at the FBI include increases of $74.6 million and 892 positions -- 149 of them agents -- for counter-terrorism management, investigation and analysis.

Another $60.6 million in increases would go to the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force, a unit set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

The proposed budget includes increases of $40.1 million and 113 positions -- 53 of them FBI agents -- for the Computer Intrusion Program to fight cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism.

The proposed 2004 increases also include $24.5 million for combating corporate fraud.

In his own prepared statement, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson said: "We must restore confidence in the integrity of our markets." Those guilty of corporate fraud will be held "accountable to the fullest extent of the law," he said.

Thompson is chairman of the administration's Corporate Fraud Task Force.

The corporate fraud program includes increases of $16 million in funding and 118 positions -- 56 of them FBI agents -- for staff and resources to target major fraud cases; and $7.9 million and 88 positions -- 18 of them lawyers -- for U.S. attorneys offices.

Other budget proposal increases include $19.1 million towards preventing crimes against children; $117.9 million for reducing drug use and fighting drug crime; $101.2 million for DNA identification programs; $326.1 million for judicial system protection, as well as increases in federal detention capacity; and $41.5 million for financial and information technology management and security.

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