Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

5 September 2006 @ 1pm

Scorecard for the War on Terrorism

Com­ing from Bruce Schneier and TRAC:

… time­ly data show that five years lat­er, in the lat­est avail­able peri­od, the total num­ber of these pros­e­cu­tions has returned to rough­ly what they were just before the attacks.

How is it that, dur­ing the War on Ter­ror­ism, our gov­ern­ment is doing such a piss-poor job of catch­ing ter­ror­ists that pros­e­cu­tions have dropped off that severe­ly? Could it be that they aren’t actu­al­ly putting it at the top of their priorities?

For inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism[,] the dec­li­na­tion rate has been high, … [i]n fact, time­ly data show[s] that in the first eight months of FY 2006 the assis­tant U.S. Attor­neys reject­ed slight­ly more than nine out of ten of the referrals.

Fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors are allowed to turn down refer­rals to pros­e­cute cas­es from oth­er depart­ments of the gov­ern­ment. They’ve turned down about 90% of refer­rals. What’s going on here?

Inter­na­tion­al Ter­ror­ism: Ulti­mate Out­come of Referrals/Criminal Prosecutions:
Date range: medi­an prison sentence
Oct. 1, 1999 — Sept. 10, 2001: 41 months
Sept. 11, 2001 — Sept. 30, 2003: 28 days
Oct. 1, 2003 — May 31, 2006: 20 days

What in the world? Sen­tences of the cas­es that pros­e­cu­tors did accept fell from 1247 days, to 28 days.

This excerpt from the report sums it up concisely:

Con­sid­er­ing the numer­ous warn­ing state­ments from Pres­i­dent Bush and oth­er fed­er­al offi­cials about the con­tin­u­ing nature of the ter­ror­ism threat, how­ev­er, the grad­ual decline in these cas­es since the FY 2002 high point and the high rate at which pros­e­cu­tors are declin­ing to pros­e­cute ter­ror­ism cas­es rais­es ques­tions.

Why, giv­en all the warn­ings and hand-wav­ing state­ments of, “You’re in dan­ger! We can’t say when or where, but be afraid,” has pros­e­cu­tion and pur­su­ing of ter­ror­ism fall­en so drastically?

We need to be ask­ing these ques­tions of the gov­ern­ment. We need to say, “Why have you tak­en so many of our lib­er­ties, and deliv­ered noth­ing tan­gi­ble in the way of actu­al results? Do you need to strip-search us in air­ports, tak­ing away our prop­er­ties to make us ‘safe’? Our phonecalls are tapped, our finan­cial records search­able, and you’ve made no progress in this ‘war’.”

It’s required data from the gov­ern­ment that made this report pos­si­ble. It allows us, the cit­i­zen­ry, to hold the gov­ern­ment account­able for their words and actions.

We need to hold them accountable.