News Releases

Murray Asks FBI Director to Increase FBI Presence in Washington State

Sep 17 2007

Murray highlights need to protect Washington state seaports, borders, and federal land in letter to FBI Director Mueller

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D – WA) wrote to Robert S. Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), calling for an increased FBI presence in Washington state. In her letter, Murray cited recent reporting that revealed a low per capita average of FBI agents in Washington state. Murray also discussed the many unique security challenges Washington state faces including border-related terrorism threats, busy seaports, and an abundance of federal land.

"Given the number and importance of potential targets, I am concerned that the small number of FBI agents in Washington State may have an adverse affect on the safety and security of our citizens," Senator Murray wrote. "I look forward to working with you to increase the number of FBI agents to address Washington State’s terrorism-prevention and crime-fighting needs."

The full text of Murray's letter to Director Mueller is below:

September 17, 2007

Robert S. Mueller, III
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, DC 20535

Dear Director Mueller:

I write to express my concern with the number of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in Washington state.  Despite Washington state’s vulnerabilities to terrorist attack and need for a strong federal law enforcement presence, I am troubled by recent news articles that report that Washington state ranks well below other states in terms of per capita FBI agents, and that this is having a negative effect on the safety and security of our citizens.  I would like to work with you to increase the number of FBI agents in Washington state.

FBI agents in the Seattle FBI office and across Washington state work hard every day to protect our citizens against an endless number of threats.  As we depend upon these agents to perform an increasing number of mission functions, however, they must have adequate resources and manpower.  According to recent articles in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the national FBI average is four agents for every 100,000 people, or three per 100,000 people excluding the large FBI presence in the District of Columbia, Virginia and New York.  Washington state, however, has only 2.1 agents per 100,000 people and is 35th among the states in per capita FBI agents.  For its population of 6 million and numerous potential terrorist targets, Washington state has only 133 agents, 53 lower than the 186 agents needed even to bring it up to the national average.  I understand that the FBI has a limited number of agents with which to address its counter-terrorism mission, as well as its traditional law enforcement mission.  I also understand that FBI staffing levels are not subject to an easy per capita distribution or analysis.  Given the terrorist threats and federal law enforcement needs in Washington state, however, the low level is troubling.

Washington State is home to over six million people, industry-leading companies, international seaports and important military facilities.  In addition, Washington State contains a significant amount of federal land, including federal trust land for our 29 federally-recognized Indian tribes.  And finally, Washington state shares an international border with Canada, where terrorist Ahmed Ressam was apprehended on his way to carry out an attack on American soil, and where thousands of people will travel to attend the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.  Given the number and importance of potential targets, I am concerned that the small number of FBI agents in Washington state may have an adverse affect on the safety and security of our citizens. 

The FBI’s low staffing level not only increases Washington state’s vulnerability to terrorism, it also affects the FBI’s crime fighting ability in Washington state.  I am very concerned about reports that the FBI may not have enough agents to adequately address the FBI’s traditional law enforcement activities, leaving our citizens more vulnerable to crimes.  Moreover, while the news articles focus on the staffing in the FBI office in Seattle, the lack of FBI agents makes it difficult to ensure an adequate FBI presence in Southwest Washington and other underserved areas of the state.

Thank you for your service to the safety and security of our nation and your attention to this important issue.  I look forward to working with you to increase the number of FBI agents to address Washington state’s terrorism-prevention and crime-fighting needs.  Please do not hesitate to contact my office on this issue.  

Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator