Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Eight years later, do you feel safer?

Well, maybe--finally--a little:

The FBI has engaged in “triage,” taking agents off terror and other crimes to respond to a cascade of financial frauds such as the alleged Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the head of the bureau’s New York criminal division said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was forced to reallocate its manpower in New York to deal with recent frauds involving subprime mortgages, auction-rate securities and Madoff, who prosecutors said confessed this month to bilking investors out of $50 billion, FBI official David Cardona said in an interview.

“We have to work those cases which we think pose the greatest threat,” he said. “In this case, it’s a threat to the financial system and Wall Street.”

Special Agent Rachel Rojas, who once worked on tracing terrorist financing and al-Qaeda, now oversees 15 agents investigating mortgage fraud, said Cardona, a career agent with 23 years at the bureau. He declined to say how many other agents he has reassigned from anti-terror work to financial crimes.

Rojas heads one of two such mortgage-fraud squads that work with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and Manhattan and other federal agencies, Cardona said. The U.S. Justice Department has created more than 40 mortgage-fraud task forces around the country this year.

All that's missing is George Bush standing on the rubble of Lehman Brothers with a bullhorn. Don't look for it.

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