Government Reform

The Government Makes Stuff Up

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If you find this surprising , you haven't been paying attention:

Nearly all of the terrorism-related statistics reported by the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI from the September 11 attacks until early 2005 had some inaccuracies, the department's inspector general said on Tuesday.

[…]

The report found that only two out of 26 statistics were accurate after reviewing the number of terrorism convictions in the 2003 and 2004 financial years, the number of convictions or guilty pleas from September 11, 2001, through February 3, 2005, and the number of terrorist threats tracked by the FBI in 2003 and 2004.

"We found many cases involving offenses such as immigration violations, marriage fraud, or drug trafficking where department officials provided no evidence to link the subject of the case to terrorist activity," the report said.

Looks like it may be time to fire the inspector general.

NEXT: Free Kareem

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  1. Whaaaat?

    What’s next: are you going to tell me that there were no WMDs in Iraq!

  2. I mean “?”

  3. SKIES FILLED with kites, rooftop parties, bright yellow clothes, laughing children, family get-togethers, good food, and good times have been associated for several hundred years with a spring festival in Lahore, one of South Asia’s culture capitals.

    The roots of the festival, Basant, are shrouded in legend. According to Oxford historian Yaqoob Bangash, it is derived from a mesh of cultures. Tributes were paid to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning and the arts, on Basant Panchami, the first day of spring in the Hindu calendar. Under Sikh princes, who made their capital Lahore, the Hindu festival was embellished with Punjabi traditions to make it attractive to all faiths. Sufi Muslim saints endorsed the celebration. The cutting of the first crop, mustard, coincided with Basant Panchami and hence the yellows. Later on, flying imported Chinese kites formed an integral part of the spring celebrations. Basant and kite-flying are now synonymous. The Sikhs made Basant an indigenous, secular Punjabi tradition that helped create social harmony.

    Islamists in Pakistan call for an end to the Basant celebration , saying it is not “Islamic.” This argument succeeded in neighboring Afghanistan under the Taliban. President General Pervez Musharraf, however, is on a jihad to portray Pakistan as an “enlightened moderate” country that will not acquiesce to Islamist demands. At the Lahore marathon this January, Musharraf declared that extremists wouldn’t have their way and that marathons and Basant will continue.

    Basant’s kite flying may have promoted social harmony and moderate society in the past. Unfortunately it does just the opposite today.

    Over the past decade, Basant has been hijacked by kite-flying fanatics. Cut throat kite-flyers have been using metal twine. The aim: to cut opponents’ kite wires. The collateral damage: hundreds of slit throats.

    A beautiful cultural tradition has degenerated into a murderous sport. Reports say that hundreds have been killed or wounded when their throats were cut by razor-sharp kite twine. In light of the deaths and injuries caused — and the government’s constitutional obligation to protect lives — Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered a ban on kite flying in October 2005. The order has been lifted twice.

    Last February, the Supreme Court lifted its ban for a fortnight, just in time for the spring festival. (It is worth remembering Pakistan’s higher courts’ judges took oaths to serve in the judiciary while the constitution had been suspended during General Musharraf’s coup.)

    This year, the governor of Punjab province, an unelected retired general, waived the Supreme Court’s kite-flying ban for Feb. 24 and 25.

    Advocates of Basant and supporters of the provincial governor — corporate sponsors, anti-Islamists, and Lahori traditionalists — say keep the kites: regulate the manufacturers, sellers, and users. They simply can’t imagine Basant without kites.

    Their argument has little credibility. Last year’s Supreme Court order waiving the ban on flying kites came with stipulated conditions, including the regulation of manufacturers, sellers, and users. These went unheeded — nuanced law enforcement is not the Pakistan police’s forte — and surprise, surprise, people died. Essentially, advocates of kite flying are ready to take the risk of more loss of life for two days of satisfaction.

    A more absurd line of argument forwarded by car-using kite advocates is that motorcyclists, the most common victims of razor-sharp wire and usually lower-middle-class citizens who struggle to make ends meet, should be banned from the streets for the duration of the kite-flying festival!

    Some lawyers are petitioning that the Punjab governor be held in contempt of court and his ordinance, which they argue breaches the right to life, be held unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court allows Basant celebrations to include kite flying this year, Musharraf and his cronies will have won a symbolic battle against Islamists. Symbols aside, the rule of law will lose. So will human lives.

  4. “We found many cases involving offenses such as immigration violations, marriage fraud, or drug trafficking where department officials provided no evidence to link the subject of the case to terrorist activity,” the report said.

    Wow! I mean, who could’ve predicted that in the absence of real terrorist activity, mundane crimes would be labeled “terrorism”?

  5. from the article: “most of the statistics were significantly overstated or understated.”

    It doesn’t look like concerted lying to increase fear-mongering or justify budget increases. To me it looks like prosecutors were putting any old number down so they could get back to prosecuting.

  6. The report found that only two out of 26 statistics were accurate after reviewing the number of terrorism convictions in the 2003 and 2004 financial years, the number of convictions or guilty pleas from September 11, 2001, through February 3, 2005, and the number of terrorist threats tracked by the FBI in 2003 and 2004.

    Isn’t that Three statistics ?

  7. If I’d ever been divorced, I’d be tempted to make the cheap joke that anybody who thinks marriage fraud can’t be an act of terrorism has never met my ex.

  8. Chris on a Cracker: you better read it again. might be time to brush up on those comprehension skills.

  9. 2 out of 3 statistics are made up.

  10. Another big lie involving statistics that the government, in this case the National Cancer Institute, has been making up for years is that there is no link between induced abortion and increased breast cancer risk (see the legal briefs in Kjolsrud v. MKB Management, available on the North Dakota Supreme Court website, or the Wisconsin Law Review article posted at http://www.proinformation.net).

    What other mission does the NCI (and other government agencies in the information-dispensing business) have other than using its unjustified aura of authority to mislead the public? Funding (favored) medical research. And how compelling really is our national interest in discovering new ways to artificially extend individual human lives as long as possible? In fact, the more the government spends to discover such new techniques, the more the government will additionally have to spend providing such new techniques to patients through Medicare, etc., not to mention additional Social Security payments.

    I don’t mean to sound callous, because I am sensible of the fact that medicine obviously does improve people’s lives, but I think medical research is one of those areas that is most clearly not the government’s business. Research will certainly continue on in the private sector even without government intervention.

    And yeah, might as well start by defunding stem cell research and anything else that anyone on the right or the left finds objectionable.

  11. Who cares about statistics, or even objective truth? The Congress already “found” no medicinal value whatsoever in marijuana, and the courts “found” no “medical exception” for marijuana prohibition. Even government’s own studies or commission recommendations that contradict these “findings” are ignored.

    They’ve been making it up as they go along the whole time. The War on Drugs wasn’t the first such instance, and it won’t be the last. Why should anyone be (feign) surprise, when the War on Terror is no different?

    What stays the same, however, is the public’s capacity to tolerate inconsistent, hypocritical, arbitrary government. It doesn’t matter if you show that marijuana DOES have medical uses, and may be less dangerous than the legal drug, beer. It doesn’t matter if you demonstrate that people are safer from terrorists than from lightning strikes, or that the government is making up statistics so as to show “progress” in the War on Terror. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if the people rise up and “clean house,” as they thought they did in 2006, toward a goal such as ending the Iraq war, as long as they keep electing members of the “power parties.” Unless you go outside the established power structure for your representatives and leaders, you are very likely to see no change at all. The only “new blood” that will be committed to change, will be those who aren’t joined at the hip to the “old blood.”

  12. And they question our questioning of their new broad reaching powers as if we think they would use them for anything other than what they claim they were originally needed for.

    Can anyone point to any instance in which the government took it upon itself to be overlord where they have no business at all and restricted the said use of such practices to only those described without misusing them for something else when it suited them to do so?

    We all know as history has shown repeatedly that given exclusive powers unchecked the government agencies and politicians will misuse any/all laws for their own self preservation and well being no matter who suffers from the fallout.

    I think the number would be up there with naming successful government programs that are on/under budget and getting real results.

    Can everyone count to ZERO.

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