TRACking the War on Terrorism?

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From a Denver Post story:

In a speech before the FBI Academy in September, President Bush said that since the attacks, U.S. prosecutors have charged more than 260 suspected terrorists, of whom 140 have already been convicted.

But critics say the new data—compiled by researchers at Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, using Justice Department reports—provide a very different picture, one that suggests the government is inflating its success by categorizing minor prosecutions as related to terrorism.

TRAC data shows that convictions in cases the Justice Department says are related to international terrorism jumped 7 1/2 times compared with the two years before the attacks—from 24 to 184—but the number of individuals who received sentences of five or more years actually dropped, from six in the two years before the attacks to three in the two years that followed.

The story, which includes quotes from the supporters of the Justice Dept., is online here. TRAC's FBI site is here.

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  1. Great, so to make up for the lack of longterm sentencing Ashcroft will now impose mandatory 10year prison sentences for all offenses. Hoooooray!

  2. The Bush administration misrepresenting numbers in order to support its actions? Dissembling? Deceiving? Inflating the case? It can’t be.

    Drat you bleeding heart liberal traitors!

    (Although no less a Bushie than Donald Rumsfeld admitted that he “exaggerates for effect.” Maybe Bush will say the same thing soon.)

  3. To judge success based only on major convictions in the two years prior vs. two years after 9-11 seems a lot like fishing for a stat that matches an argument, especially with this sample size (6 vs. 3). First, it must be recognized that major crimes of all types in this country often take more than two years to lead to a conviction. Secondly, after 9-11, I expect a person who might find themselves in a position to be captrued and brought up on major charges, would probably be more likely to leave this country and less likely to be taken alive in another.
    The numbers are further incomplete as they don’t take into account anyone currently at Gitmo who might eventually be convicted of international terrorism. Yes, we can argue the tangent of whether they are there illegally, when they will ever get a trial, how many are innocent and so forth, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that a decent number of the 660 there will probably be convicted of terrorism charges eventually, and they are currently neutralized. That last detail which makes the conviction comparison not the same as comparing success is the number of dead terrorists. How many could have eventually been convicted of executing or plotting international terror? How many of similar standing were killed in the two years prior to 9-11, as compared to after? These make up the entire picture of success, not just selecting one data point.

  4. I am shocked! Shocked that a government entity would fudge data! 🙂

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