It was bad enough when the FBI lost track of thousands of documents that should have been turned over to lawyers for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Now comes the more embarrassing disclosure that over the last 11 years it has lost hundreds of weapons and laptop computers, some to theft, some to retired or fired employees who took equipment with them, some to sloppy inventory controls.
Significantly, the survey of lost equipment didn't originate with the FBI. It was requested by Congress and former FBI Director William Webster, who is heading an investigation into the bureau's security problems.
Without that prod, the missing 449 firearms and 184 computers might have remained a deep secret. This latest revelation of lax management supports the growing congressional consensus that the FBI, which has always cultivated an image of model efficiency while resisting outside scrutiny, can't be trusted to recognize and remedy its own failings.