- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft's $23.3 billion fiscal 2004 budget for the Justice Department calls for a 6.3 percent increase in spending for federal law enforcement in an effort to finance the war against terrorism.
"Following the attacks of September 11, 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," Mr. Ashcroft said.
"The president's budget recognizes that protecting our nation and our citizens must be our first priority," he said.
The new budget, which includes $19 billion for discretionary spending, compares with a fiscal asking of $30.2 billion in 2003, but takes into account the transfer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the Department of Homeland Security.
The FBI receives the largest increases, 10 percent over last year to $4.6 billion, including 1,900 new agents and support personnel, mainly to fight terrorism.
The new budget identifies eight "critical areas" for additional funding totaling $1.264 billion.
They include $598.2 million to fight terrorism; $24.5 million for corporate fraud; $19.1 million to fight crimes against children; $117.9 million for reducing drug use and fighting drug crime; $101.2 million for enhanced DNA programs; $326.1 million for the federal judicial system; $41.5 million for information technology management and security; and $35 million for other activities such as prosecuting the illegal transportation of hazardous materials.
In addition to terrorism, the department seeks to maintain a full-scale attack on corporate fraud.
"We will continue to investigate fully the reports of corporate fraud, and hold accountable to the fullest extent of the law those individuals and entities who violate the public trust, undermine our free-enterprise system and put at risk the retirement savings of American workers," said Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson, who heads the task force.
Combating illegal drug trafficking and the continued wave of violent crime associated with it also remain as top Justice priorities, and the cornerstone of the department's drug strategy is its Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which receives a $58 million increase in funding.
The request includes additional resources to expand drug financial investigations as well as to increase support for combating the top drug-trafficking organizations. The new budget consolidates drug task force funding for participating agencies within Justice, adding an additional $108 million.
This consolidation would include an expansion of investigative efforts against major drug targets and increased financial and money-laundering investigations. It also would include drug courts, international training, laboratory enhancements and transitional drug-treatment programs.
Proposed spending increase in the investigation of crimes against children would include Internet and gun-interdiction initiatives and the Amber Alert program.
"This budget supports efforts to combat child pornography, particularly online child pornography, prevent child abductions and reduce gun crime," Mr. Ashcroft said.
He said the new budget also provides "significant resources" to improve courtroom security, and includes additional funds to manage a 4 percent growth in the federal prison population.

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