Terrorism

Data: Big Talkers

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Post-September 11, it seems strange that terrorist threats once needed to be hyped. But that's exactly what the Department of Justice did to help justify its $22 billion budget, according to a Miami Herald investigation. In its 2000 annual report, the DOJ not only cites the "FBI's efforts to thwart the terrorist efforts organized by Usama Bin Laden" as a success but also tallies up more than 10,000 terrorist investigations and 236 terrorist convictions.

The numbers seem impressive until one discovers that an angry man ringing a call button for more booze on an international flight, a tenant impersonating an FBI officer in a rental dispute, and Chinese sailors seeking work in the U.S. were all investigated as "terrorists." "Cases labeled as terrorism include erratic behavior by people with mental illnesses…and convicts rioting to get better prison food," reports the Herald in its December expos√©. "There was a Mexican who concocted a phony passport application, a former court employee who shoved a judge, the babbling man who walked into an FBI office and threatened to kill President Bill Clinton—though he didn't realize Clinton was no longer president."