Post-9/11 Terror Prosecution Update


In my short 9/11 aniversary article on fizzled "terror cell" arrests, I linked to the Syracuse University-based federal government information and watchdog group Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse's (TRAC) report on post-9/11 terror enforcement and busts from two years after 9/11; I missed their more current roundup and analysis.

The news isn't any better for those who insist America faces a real, serious, ongoing domestic terror threat and that empowered law enforcement post-9/11 is doing a great deal to curb it. Some results from TRAC's study: in the first eight months of FY 2006, federal prosecutors declined to pursue nine out of 10 referrals for international terror cases from federal investigative agencies (most likely indicating how lame and unlikely to succeed they thought such prosecutions would be, unless federal prosecutors are all Osama-loving America haters); and

five years after 9/11, looking at the 6,472 individuals….who were initially referred under the terrorist or anti-terrorist programs, only about one in five have been convicted…..

Despite the low success rate in obtaining convictions, the large absolute number of referrals coming from the agencies (nearly 6,500 of them) has resulted in a sizable number of convictions (1,329). For this group it is instructive to consider the penalties that were imposed:
* Only 14 (one percent) received a substantial sentence—20 years or more.

* Only 67 (5 percent) received sentences of five or more years.

* Of the 1,329 who were sentenced, 704 received no prison time and an additional 327 received sentences ranging from one day to less than a year.

A chart of results since 9/11 on federal criminal enforcement activity on all terrorism and anti-terrorism programs.

A similar chart on only "international terrorism" enforcement and arrests–showing 1,391 referrals for prosecution and 213 convictions, only 14 of which resulted in jail sentences of over five years. Remember 9/11–but don't forget some things we might learn from the five years since then, either.